April 11, 2008

Unveils Plans for Digital Information Network

Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Transit Authority officials and community members today officially dedicated the renovated Southport Brown Line station at 3411 N. Southport Ave.

The station had been closed for 12 months for renovation. Major improvements include longer platforms to accommodate eight-car trains, a rebuilt stationhouse and newly installed elevators that make the station accessible to customers with disabilities.

At the dedication ceremony, Daley, CTA Chairman Carole Brown, and CTA President Ron Huberman also previewed a new digital advertising communications initiative that will ultimately enable the CTA to provide next train arrival information and notify customers of service changes and is also expected to provide the CTA with more than $100 million in revenue.

"Every day, more than 1.6 million people from Chicago and across the region use public transportation to get to and from work each day and to live their lives. They need a system that provides on-time, safe and reliable service," Daley said. "That's why, as we look to the future, the CTA is maintaining its focus on improving the quality of service it provides to riders day by day."

Southport is the ninth station reconstructed and modernized as part of the Brown Line Capacity Expansion project. Accessibility features include new elevators, wheelchair accessible turnstile, TTY telephones, Braille signs, gap fillers and tactile edging.

"This new station represents a great enhancement of our transportation system and moves us closer to our goal of bringing accessible, reliable service to riders of the Brown Line and to riders of the CTA system everywhere in Chicago," Daley said.

Other improvements at Southport include a larger, newly rebuilt stationhouse, wider stairways, additional turnstiles, a new platform canopy, customer assistant call buttons, an information kiosk, heaters, benches, brighter lighting, windbreaks and improved station and directional signs.

"The Southport station first opened in May 1907, so 101 years later, a renovation was long overdue. We are proud to offer this newly renovated, accessible station to the Southport corridor," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "Major infrastructure improvements such as the renovation of this station and the platforms are crucial to operating reliable service for customers that can meet the growing demand for public transit."

To foster a sense of ownership and identity within each station and the surrounding community, the CTA has partnered with the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs to install public art at all 18 stations included in the Brown Line Capacity Expansion project. For Southport, Chicago-based artist Elizabeth Fraiberg created two ceramic tile murals that are located inside the stationhouse and depict layered, abstract photographs of the surrounding neighborhood.

Work has been completed at nine Brown Line stations: Kimball, Kedzie, Rockwell, Francisco, Western, Sedgwick, Montrose, Addison and Southport. A temporary station has opened at Diversey and work continues at all other stations.

Huberman said additional amenities are planned for Southport and all other CTA rail stations as a result of a new digital advertising communications network that will be installed over the next year. Yesterday, the Chicago Transit Board authorized a 10-year contract with Titan Outdoor to allow them to sell digital advertising. Over the life of the contract, the CTA expects to earn nearly $101 million.

Under the agreement, Titan will install digital screens at every CTA rail station and "urban panels" at the entrances to subway and elevated stations. In addition to being used for advertising, the CTA will be able to use the screens to provide next train arrival and customer information. The messages can be targeted to specific stations or communities and the CTA will be able to issue emergency override messages as needed. Digital ads will also be displayed on the curb side of 100 buses.

Titan will assume the cost of design and installation and will be responsible for the maintenance of the signs. At the end of the contract, CTA will assume ownership.

"The digital advertising agreement with Titan Outdoor is another example -- such as the partnership with Google we announced earlier this week -- of the kind of creative thinking and partnering with the private sector we must undertake to keep our transit system strong in to the future," Daley said.

"This agreement is a win-win for the CTA," said Huberman. "By introducing digital advertising, the CTA will earn a significant amount of revenue. And it will have the very valuable added benefit of providing a fast way to communicate information to our customers, especially during emergencies."

Titan currently has a contract with the CTA to sell advertising on trains, buses and at CTA locations. The ads generally consist of signs, poster, banners and wraps. The new contract adds digital advertising to the mix.

"This agreement demonstrates the CTA is building a system that provides quality services to its customers, using the latest innovations and technology," Daley said.

"At the end of the day, as the leaders of the CTA agree, what's important is that we use every available tool to have a system of public transportation that works for our people," the Mayor said.

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