CTA modernizing half its fleet of buses in $185M overhaul

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The CTA is spending $185 million to overhaul its fleet of buses - a move that will help keep them on the street, especially in extremely cold weather.

After thousands of starts and stops in high heat and miserable cold and a quarter million city miles on the odometer, they do need some love.

And a new engine, transmission, radiator and a few other things.

As part of the CTA's bus modernization program, over half the fleet - 1,000 buses - are going through a mid-life overhaul.

"We're doing 60-70 buses at a time, and so basically doing this overhaul on 55 percent of the bus fleet while still maintaining service, so it is an unprecedented achievement," said CTA Vice President George Cavelle.

Bus #1811 has had six years on the streets, driving 273,000 miles - and is in need of a makeover.

The effort is meant to get maximum life from a bus like #1811 - which is typically 12 years. And with so many in a sort of mid-life crisis, this is a massive fix-up on a fast track.

"Coordinating all the events and the flow of when buses come in and out, they're all here at different stages, so we have to coordinate that," said Cummins NPower General Manager Eric Eldridge.

It takes about two-and-a-half days to rebuild a bus, and then it's good for another five years or so on the road.

When the work on #1811 is done, it'll have a new engine, transmission, LED lighting and other newer tech parts, which will improve mileage with its new life.

Apart from the rebuilds at Cummins Npower, the CTA says it has improved its preventative maintenance program, meaning that defects are caught earlier before they get bigger.

And during this cold weather, the air lines on buses are cleared every night so there's no moisture build up. Lessons learned.

Three-hundred more buses to go and the overhaul is done. And #1811 will be feeling much better when it goes back out into the cold.
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