Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced today that ridership on the Chicago Transit Authority continued its upward trend in the first six months of 2012—with June marking the 16th consecutive month of ridership increases.
The announcement was made at the introduction of the newly rehabilitated Morse Red Line station – one of seven stations included in the $86 million Red North Interim Improvement project and a component of Mayor Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program, which is updating infrastructure that’s critical to the city.
Combined bus and rail ridership is up four percent for the first half of 2012 with nearly 10.5 million more rides than the same time period in 2011. The increase follows a similar ridership jump in 2011, when CTA reached the highest ridership total in 20 years—more than 532 million.
“These numbers demonstrate that a firm commitment to improving our infrastructure will help improve quality of life for all Chicagoans,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our residents are taking the CTA now more than ever and as we improve the stations and the infrastructure of the system as a whole, these trends will continue, creating jobs throughout Chicago and improving the prospects of Chicagoans from every neighborhood.”
Ridership has seen some if its sharpest increases during the tenure of Mayor Emanuel. From June 2011-June 2012, ridership rose 4.3 percent, about 22 million rides, compared to the same time period in 2010-2011.
Impressively, the number of recorded rides on the rail system has seen 51 months of consecutive growth. For the first half of 2012, there were nearly 114 million rides taken on CTA trains—an increase of 6.2 percent.
From January-June 2012, bus ridership is 2.6 percent higher than the same period last year, and increase of 3.9 million rides.
“While we cannot attribute one particular factor to changes we’re seeing in ridership trends, it is clear that the investments we’ve made to improve both the bus and rail system over the past year have contributed to our continued growth in ridership,” said Claypool.
Since summer 2011, CTA has undertaken and announced several large capital investment projects and system upgrades all aimed at improving the safety and experience for customers, employees and surrounding communities, including:
Station Renewal—Renew Crews making improvements at 100 rail stations
Red North 7 station renewal program
Loop Track renewal project
Completion of Security Camera Installations
Introduction of 5000-series rail cars to the Pink and Green Lines
Track work and slow-zone improvements
The Morse station is part of the North Red Interim Station Improvement project and provides much-needed capital maintenance work at seven rail stations on the North Branch of the Red Line. These stations are some of the oldest on the system, with most being built in the early 1900s and in need of being rebuilt from the ground up.
The continued ridership growth, Claypool added, emphasizes the need for continued capital investment in both bus and rail infrastructure. CTA recently announced a number of projects designed to modernize the system and improve service, including the reconstruction of the South Red Line, the purchase of 425 new buses and complete overhaul of 1,000 others, and a new Red Line terminal at 95th Street.
“This is the biggest investment and most comprehensive work performed along the North Red Line branch since they were constructed in the early 1900s,” said Claypool. “We understand the value that each of these stations offers – they attract businesses and residents and serve as the gateway to the surrounding community – which is why we are making these life-extending repairs that will last for many years until a more comprehensive reconstruction plan is approved and fully funded.”
The Morse station was temporarily closed for six weeks to allow crews to perform approximately $11 million in repairs to the station house, adjacent retail spaces and surrounding infrastructure. Specific enhancements to the station include:
Concrete repairs, painting and sealing/coating of the viaduct
New waterproofing and drainage system on the viaduct
Upgraded lighting under the viaduct
New trackbed, ties and rails on the viaduct and through the station area
Masonry repairs and new tuck pointing on the station house exterior
New windows, doors and exterior lighting on the station house
New station house interior finishes (i.e. walls, flooring, ceiling), lighting and signage
Improved station house interior layout/circulation
Sidewalk repairs and new bike racks outside of the station house
New platform foundations, decking, fixtures and furnishings
Refurbished canopy structure
The Morse station is the second of seven stations to undergo rehabilitation and re-open as part of the Red North Interim Improvement project. Work requiring the temporary closure of the remaining five stations – Thorndale, Argyle, Berwyn, Lawrence and Jarvis – is expected to be complete by the end of 2012, with all remaining station and track work to be completed by early-2013.
Also, in an effort to reduce future expenses and avoid additional impacts to rail service, the Chicago Transit Board recently approved an amendment – with a maximum value of $15 million – to extend the scope of work to address additional slow zones, viaduct repairs and other station structure repairs. As a result of this amendment, customers will experience fewer service disruptions and a reduction of 2-3 minutes in travel times following the removal of approximately 7,000 feet of slow zones.