January 12, 2005

With the restoration of weekend service on the newly renovated 54th/Cermak branch of the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line, the Chicago Transit Board today voted to eliminate duplicate service provided by the #X21 Cermak Express bus route effective January 30, 2005.

The #X21 route currently operates between North Riverside Park Mall and McCormick Place on weekends and holidays. CTA created the limited stop route in December 1998 to provide weekend transit service in lieu of Blue Line rail service. Weekend rail service on the branch was added January 1, however, and operates every 15 minutes on Saturday from 4 a.m. until 1 a.m., and every 20 minutes on Sunday from 4 a.m. until 1 a.m. Weekday service hours are 4 a.m. until 1 a.m.

"We continually strive for ways to better serve our customers," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "With the completion of major construction on this branch of the Blue Line as scheduled, we are pleased to add weekend service and therefore eliminate the need for the extra bus route."

"Prior to new weekend service on the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, the #X21 Cermak provided a key service for residents of North Lawndale, Pilsen, Little Village and Cicero," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "With a newly rebuilt, state of the art, accessible rail line available on weekends, the #X21 route is no longer needed."

The board also approved a 180-day experiment on the #21 Cermak bus route which will incorporate trips to North Riverside Mall - one of the most popular aspects of the former #X21 Cermak route. Under the experiment, the #21 Cermak bus will extend its run and terminate at the North Riverside Park Mall instead of the rail terminal at 54th/Cermak. Starting January 30, 2005, #21 buses will operate to the mall approximately every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. Eastbound trips on the #21 route will continue to terminate at McCormick Place.

The CTA began work to rehabilitate the 105-year-old 54th/Cermak branch in the summer of 2001. The structure and track conditions had deteriorated and ridership had fallen 50 percent in just 22 years.

With completion this month, CTA renovated eight stations - 54th/Cermak, Kostner, Pulaski, Central Park, Kedzie, California, Western and Damen - replaced five miles of track, rail ties, foot walks and the support structure, and installed a new signal communications system.

Rehabilitation work completely eliminated slow zones, improving travel times for customers. The trip from 54th/Cermak to the Loop now takes 25 minutes or less instead of the 45 minutes it took prior to reconstruction.

The 54th/Cermak branch runs along 6.6 miles of track parallel to Cermak Road from the terminal at 54th/Cermak, east to Paulina, where it turns north and meets the Forest Park (Congress) branch of the Blue Line at Harrison Street.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 40 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, nearly two million customers use some combination of CTA, Pace and Metra to get to and from destinations throughout the six-county region.

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