Did You Know?

Only 11 percent of Chicagoland residents ride transit to work.

Latest on the Red/Purple Modernization Project

This week, CTA held open houses to update the public on the progress of the Red and Purple Modernization Project. Riders for Better Transit staff attended one of the meetings, and talked to CTA staff about some of the details. 

What changes can riders expect?

/Well, nothing too dramatic right away, but it’s clear that changes are on their way for these critical routes that provided nearly 20 million trips in 2011.

CTA received over 1,500 comments during the last round of public meetings in January 2011. They heard support for the modernizing four track alternative that does involve station consolidation, but offers benefits such as additional transfers, ADA accessibility and speeding up the route. Many riders also expressed serious concerns about the effects of consolidating stations–like extra walking time and new walking routes.

As a result of last year’s public comments, CTA eliminated two unpopular alternatives and added an alternative to the study that explores modernizing the line without any consolidation of stations.

This leaves four alternatives to be studied in this year’s environmental impact study: No action, basic rehabilitation, modernization with station consolidation and modernization without consolidation.

The CTA will now work to complete the draft Environmental Impact Study on these alternatives by the end of 2012, and riders and community members will have a chance to express their opinion on the findings of the study during the public comment period in early 2013. The revised alternatives, as well as the open house exhibit boards, can be found on the CTA website

The big trade off

When it comes to consolidating stations, no transit rider wants to see his or her station being closed. But most riders also would like to see the trains move faster. Consolidating stations would mean fewer stops and reduced travel time.

Under the consolidation scenarios, new entrances would be added to the stations to shorten walking distances from multiple directions. Some riders would therefore get a station entrance closer than the one they currently have.

But even a few blocks can be a dramatic change to a transit rider’s life. An extra 1/8 of a mile can add time to a commute, and it can be an even greater inconvenience for the elderly, disabled, and those with small children and strollers.

At the very least, overall station accessibility will be improved under any of the alternatives since it is a federal requirement that any major reconstruction must also include ADA compliance.

Ultimately, these are tradeoffs the transit-riding public and the neighborhood residents along the Red and Purple lines will need to decide.

Riders for Better Transit will be following the issue closely. Sign up to stay involved!