To help customers prepare for the upcoming Red Line South project, which will completely rebuild the tracks and improve stations on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, the Chicago Transit Authority today launched an online trip planner allowing customers to explore travel options now—before the May 19 project start date.
Visitors can access the online trip planner at www.redlinesouth.com to explore the CTA service options available during the Red Line South project. Using their desktop or any internet-connected device, users will enter a starting point and destination, choose weekday or weekend travel, and indicate a time of travel. The trip planner uses Google Maps to provide information on multiple transit-route options, including travel-time estimates.
The CTA is also distributing project-information fliers with travel tips and information on alternative bus and rail service with specific suggestions for defined geographic areas to help customers get around during the five-month project. The CTA created 12 versions of the fliers, each targeted to various communities in the project area, with travel options for riders who would normally use the Red Line.
"These informational materials are part of our continuing efforts to make sure CTA customers are well-prepared for the start of the Red Line South reconstruction project next month," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. "We want to make sure CTA passengers have the tools they need for a smooth commute."
Also starting next week, CTA will deploy "Red Line South Ambassadors" to south Red Line stations to answer customer questions and provide project and travel information.
The Red Line South Ambassadors, wearing bright red shirts, will be stationed at the nine affected Red Line stations during the afternoon rush hours, on a rotating basis. They will provide information and answer questions from customers.
In early May, CTA will begin distributing informational door hangers to homes and businesses near the Red Line. Like the fliers, the door hangers will provide alternative transit service suggestions for neighborhoods throughout the project footprint.
The project will completely rebuild the tracks and improve stations on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street. The project will provide faster commutes—up to 20 minutes off the round-trip commute from 95th Street to downtown --as well as smoother rides and better reliability.
To complete the work in the fastest, most cost-effective manner, the line will close from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street through October 2013, affecting nine stations. Red Line service will be rerouted south of Roosevelt onto the elevated Green Line tracks to Ashland/63rd.
Since announcing the $425 million project in June 2012, the CTA has worked closely with residents, community leaders, business organizations, elected officials and other groups who will be impacted by the project. CTA has attended dozens of meetings in communities throughout the South Side to discuss construction plans and the extensive alternative bus and rail service the CTA will offer, as well as additional service being offered by Metra and Pace during the project.
"Recognizing that this project will affect thousands of customers each day, CTA has worked to provide multiple, convenient options for people to get around during the construction," said CTA President Forrest Claypool. "We want our customers to be well-informed about the myriad travel options we're offering, so that they can get where they need to go."
Last year the CTA announced the multiple alternative travel options and discounts the agency will provide, including:
• FREE shuttle buses from Red Line stations south of 63rd Street to connect customers with the Garfield Green Line rail station
• FREE entry at Garfield Green Line station for bus shuttle passengers
• Red Line train service running on Green Line tracks from Roosevelt to Ashland/63rd
• Expanded bus service on numerous nearby bus routes
• 50-cent discount on bus rides south of 63rd Street
Built in 1969, the South Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, between 30-40 percent of the branch includes slow zones in which trains must travel well below the designed speed limit. In some cases, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph are instead running at 15 mph.
The reconstruction, one of the biggest construction projects in CTA history, will shave up to 20 minutes off the round-trip between 95th Street and Roosevelt, while providing a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance.
The project is part of Mayor Emanuel's Building a New Chicago infrastructure renewal program. Funding for the work is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funding announced in late 2011 by Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Emanuel for the Red and Purple lines. The Governor's Illinois Jobs Now! capital program is providing more than $700 million of the total investment.