CTA commuters warned about coming delays

March 31, 2008 2:11:20 PM PDT
Big changes are on the way for CTA riders on the Red, Purple and Brown lines.Beginning Sunday, the CTA will switch to a three-track operation.

A Brown Line expansion project promises to improve service, safety, and security for CTA riders. There is also a project that will add elevators for the physically challenged. And all of this progress takes time, which means riders will have to allow extra time, as well.

CTA riders have braved the elements year-round to get to their destinations, and they braved plenty of delays. Now, they must prepare for even more of them.

"The reason that we are asking our customers, relative to this Brown Line operation, to leave early, leave late, or alternate is that there will be reduced capacity along the tracks," said CTA President Ron Huberman.

Huberman announced construction to expand service that will affect riders on the Brown, Purple, and Red lines until next summer. From Belmont to Armitage, there are two southbound tracks. But, in order to work on the second track, the three lines will share one track, squeezing even fewer trains during rush hour.

"Operating trains on one less track allows the CTA to keep both stations open and maintain rail service during construction," Huberman said.

Some riders already are fed up with current CTA service.

"Particularly with the Brown Line, even though I have been giving myself extra time to get there, there have been some major stops where we stop like every 10 feet for a good 10 minutes each time," said CTA customer Josh Keiner.

"I'd rather walk to places if I have to. This is like, you know, ridiculous, delays and all that. People have to get to somewhere," said Hector Torres, also a CTA rider.

Other riders are just looking forward to the promised improvement in service.

"I'm going to keep riding it and keep supporting the train and hopefully it gets better sooner rather than later," Jarrett Harris told ABC7 Chicago.

"They are spending a lot of money on capital improvements. I hope there is some kind of a positive benefit. I hope it helps out. You never know. We'll see," said rider Ed Donley.

Two stations will be closing as part of the latest project. Wellington and Paulina will close beginning Sunday.

There is good news. Also starting Sunday, two stations are reopening, the Southport and Diversey stations.

Just in case you think it is a good time to bypass the city and move to the suburbs, suburban commuters are dealing with some headaches of their own in the form of roadway projects.

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