October 3, 2001

The Chicago Transit Board at its monthly meeting today approved service improvements to six bus routes and two rail lines. The improvements are designed to provide more efficient service to CTA customers.

The affected bus routes are #30 South Chicago, #35 35th, #48 South Damen, #75 74th/75th, #136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express and the #151 Sheridan. The affected rail lines are the Orange Line and Purple Line Express.

Following is a brief description of the changes that will be implemented on each route:

#30 South ChicagoBuses will be rerouted via Avenue O to Brainard to Baltimore to better serve the new Senior Suites Residence and the South Shore/Metra Hegwisch Station. The service change was requested by the local community. This change will be effective as soon as the necessary operating arrangements are in place.

#35 35th Buses will be rerouted westbound via California, 36th Place and Kedzie between California Boulevard and Kedzie Avenue, making permanent a reroute put in place when 36th Street became a one-way street eastbound.

#48 South Damen Buses will be rerouted from Pershing Road remaining on Western Boulevard and continuing directly to 35th/Archer Orange Line Station, providing more direct and quicker service. This change will be effective as soon as the necessary operating arrangements are in place.

#75 74th/75thBuses will be routed from 75th Street, south on Lafayette, east on 79th Street and north on State Street, back to 75th Street. This routing will serve the accessible Red Line Station at 79th Street. The reroute will be done on a 180-day trial basis to gauge customer satisfaction with this change. This change would be effective December 9, 2001.

#136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express and #151 SheridanNorthbound buses will stay on Sheridan Road up to Devon. This change will better serve Loyola University's Lakeshore Campus. This routing will eliminate two left turns in congested areas, improving safety and speed of trips. Additionally, #151 night owl (overnight) trips will extend north from Lawrence to the Berwyn Red Line Station, avoiding late night traffic and parking congestion along Lawrence. These changes will take effect as soon as necessary operating arrangements are in place.

Purple Line ExpressHours of weekday express trains will be expanded by one hour earlier (5:24 a.m.) in the morning and one hour later in the evening, leaving Linden at 6:28 p.m. This will help customers travel directly from the Loop to Downtown Evanston without having to transfer at Howard. It would also provide more convenient service for ?reverse? commuters. The last Purple Line Express would leave Downtown Chicago at 7:21p.m. Ridership on the Purple Line was 2,959,272 in 2000. This change will be implemented for a 180-day trial period beginning December 16, 2001.

Orange LineService would begin one-half hour earlier at 3:55 a.m. on weekdays and three hours earlier at 3:55 a.m. on Sundays. Trains will run later in the evening until 12:51 a.m. seven days a week with the last train leaving the Loop at 1:30 a.m. The expanded hours of operation would better serve Midway Airport and airport personnel who are ?reverse? commuters. Last year, ridership on the Orange Line was 8,080,569. This change will also be implemented for a 180-day trial period sometime this winter.

The expanded service hours on the Purple and Orange Lines were made in response to requests from commuters who rely on the trains to get them to and from their jobs. The CTA received requests from customers who live in Chicago, particularly in the southern areas, but who work in Evanston and other northern suburbs. They cited the length of time it takes to get to Howard using local Red Line service as the need for expanded Purple Line Express service.

Similar requests were made by Orange Line customers, including several employees at Midway Airport. The CTA is trying to match Orange Line service improvements to major shift changes at Midway Airport and to better meet airline schedules.

These bus service changes will be implemented at no cost to the CTA and should result in gains in ridership and revenue. The changes on the Orange and Purple Lines will cost approximately $500,000 each annually and will be paid for with Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) funding. The JARC program is administered by the Federal Transit Administration, and provides funding grants that allow the CTA to make service adjustments that enable customers who are ?reverse? commuters to use the CTA for getting to and from their jobs, particularly during early mornings or late evenings.

Past CTA improvements that have used JARC grants include establishing the #169 69th Route which serves the UPS facility in Hodgkins, extending the #54B South Cicero and #79 79th Routes to serve the Sweetheart Cup Company east of the Ford City Shopping Center, extending service on the #36 Broadway to serve the Central Post Office during late evening hours and #34 South Michigan to serve a disposal facility on the South Side.

?We are constantly reevaluating our service in response to customer demand. As a result, we are pleased to offer these service improvements to our customers today," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?These changes will benefit our current customers, and will encourage new customers to try the CTA. We think they will recognize the CTA as a reliable, affordable and convenient travel option."

?These improvements demonstrate the CTA's ongoing commitment to providing service that is on time, clean, safe and friendly," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Thanks to past and present service improvements, the CTA has experienced a 7.5% increase in ridership since 1997 and initiatives such as these help us to continue that trend as we link people, jobs and communities."

The improvements approved by the Chicago Transit Board today are just the latest service enhancements made by the CTA. Since 1998, the CTA has established eight new bus routes, extended four bus routes to help customers travel to their jobs and extended the hours or frequency of service to 70 routes. With the arrival of new low-floored Nova buses, 90% of the CTA's bus fleet is now accessible to people with disabilities and 80% of its bus routes are accessible.

Six of the CTA's seven rail lines have had service improvements, including Brown Line service that now runs downtown until midnight seven nights a week and on holidays. Earlier this year, a new station opened on the Green Line at Conservatory-Central Park Drive and 25 other stations have been or are being upgraded. Some of the stations will be made accessible to customers with disabilities. More than a dozen 'L' stations or station entrances in the downtown area that were only opened part-time, are now open during all hours trains are in operation.

In September, the CTA launched one of its most ambitious projects with the $482.6 million renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line. The project will take four years to complete and includes five miles of new track and eight new station houses.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 38 suburbs. Each weekday, the CTA provides 1.5 million rides through a network of seven rail lines and 139 bus routes.

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