CTA giving 100 of its stations facelifts

September 21, 2011 4:38:23 AM PDT
Big improvements are coming for CTA rail stations. The transit agency says it will give 100 of its 144 stations a facelift over the next year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is promising the stations will be cleaner, brighter and more functional for riders.

But some are wondering how the budget-strapped CTA is paying for the improvements that are already under way?

The CTA's new president decided to spend less of his agency's money on bureaucracy and more of it in places where customers can see a difference.

Commuters could barely make their way to the platform at the California Blue Line stop on the Northwest Side Tuesday, as over three dozen CTA workers converged there to repair, clean, repaint and polish the 115-year-old station.

"These types of improvements are coming soon to a station near you," said CTA President Forrest Claypool.

It was Claypool's idea to form what he calls "renew crews" to rehab 100 transit stations during the next year.

"We take a SWAT team approach, come in and hammer out every repair," said Claypool. "Deep clean, make every improvement and amenity that needs to be done in the station all at once."

Tuesday, Mayor Emanuel joined Claypool touring the underground Logan Square stop, the first station cleaned up under the program.

"Making this experience different will improve ridership, increase traffic, make our lives--all of us who use public transportation--better," said Emanuel.

After the mayor and CTA president left Logan Square, ABC7 asked everyday riders if they had noticed a difference.

"You can even tell from right when you get in. The floors are all shiny, marbled...The walls are clean," said Christian Carvajal.

"It's a little bit brighter, seems like they cleaned it up a little bit," said CTA rider Alyssa Montague.

"The TV's over there, brand new TVs, they give you news, updates and how long the train is gonna take," said rider Tatiana Matos.

Claypool says most of the $25 million he will use to rehab stations was made available after cuts in the cash-strapped CTA's central office.

"We've removed about 60 senior management positions, which were not necessary," Claypool said. "We've also cut padded supply budgets and other things where there was traditionally padding."

"He cut middle management, cut also different types of funding and put them to where people actually experience the CTA," said Emanuel.

The mayor and Claypool say the station rehabs are funded only for the next 12 months.

Claypool would not comment when asked about the possibility of a CTA fare increase in 2012.

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