In case you missed the big story, last week CTA announced its plans for the long-overdue project of rebuilding of the South Side Red Line. The tracks are over 40 years old and need full replacement, which anyone who rides south of the Cermak/Chinatown stop can tell you because the slow zones mean the train is creeping along.
CTA announced that to do this work quickly and efficiently, it plans to close the Red Line south of Cermak/Chinatown for 5 months in spring of 2013 until the work is complete. While this part of the Red Line is closed, CTA will be providing alternative transit routes.
Slow zones must be addressed
The work that’s being done is absolutely essential to improve public transit in Chicago. According to CTA, up to 40 percent of the Dan Ryan Red Line is operating as a slow zone.
This is higher than any part of our rail system and much higher than the North Side of the Red Line (CTA’s May 2012 slow zone map shows the North Side Red Line with only 16.6 percent slow zones).
The South Side Red Line also has the highest amount of severe slow zones where trains meant to run 40-50 mph are instead running at 15 mph.
We believe in equitable transportation
Unaddressed, these slow zones are creating a real disparity in our transit network between the North Side of the city and the South. Right now, riders on the North Side are experiencing better and faster public transportation than those on the South Side of the city. We believe in equitable transportation and to do that, transit needs to be fast and accessible everywhere…especially on the Red Line.
Several community organizations and local aldermen have spoken in favor of the plan for the 5 month closure, since it means getting the tracks fixed quickly as opposed to four years of weekend service changes. It also means bringing jobs to South Side communities and a less costly rehab process.
Closures should create minimal disruption
In the process of bringing the South Red Line up to speed, Riders for Better Transit feels that the CTA must work hard to provide as close to the same level of service as possible for South Side riders. We want to make sure that the CTA is listening to riders about the best way to provide alternate service while the Red Line is closed.
CTA, for example, might use express buses and temporary bus lanes to move riders more quickly than typical bus service during the closure. Also, Active Trans has urged the Chicago Department of Transportation to complete new South Side protected bike lanes, and thereby encourage biking as an alternative to taking the Red Line.
Share your thoughts
The CTA wants to hear from you about the best way to do this! They will be holding meetings this summer to talk about the re-routes and Riders for Better Transit will keep you informed. Riders for Better Transit is planning to speak to passengers at stations along the Red Line to hear what you have to say.
Do you like the way they have planned the re-route? Let us know! Join Riders for Better Transit to tell us more about how this project will affect you.