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Red Line Construction: Some Riders Say Commute Times So Far Have Been OK

By Wendell Hutson | May 21, 2013 6:40am
 Red Line riders talk about how their commutes to work and school have been affected by the Red Line reconstruction project that began Sunday.
Red Line Commuters
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CHICAGO — The 40 minutes it normally takes Julius Olalusi to commute from his West Pullman home to Urban Prep Academy for Young Men High School in Englewood remained unchanged Monday despite the Red Line reconstruction project.

"I left my home Friday morning at my normal time at 7:20 and got to school at 8 o'clock," said Olalusi, a 17-year-old senior. "And  [Monday] I left at 7:17 and arrived at 8:01."

Fellow classmate Kendall Pruitt, an 18-year-old junior at Urban Prep, also arrived at school Monday without delays. He left his home in the North Lawndale community on the West Side at 6:58 a.m. and arrived to school at his regular time of 8:05 a.m.

"I would have thought that it would take me a little longer, but actually the train was on time," Pruitt said. "I took the Green Line to 63rd and King Drive, and then took the 63rd Street bus a few blocks over to my school."

Pruitt said he did experience a longer ride going home Monday.

"I got out of school at 4:30 and took the 63rd Street bus to the Green Line at 63rd and King Drive,"  Pruitt said. "The train took a little longer going home and I did not make it back west until 5:48 p.m. Normally I am home by 5:30 p.m."

Paul Harris, 30, works at a Downtown bank and lives in south suburban Calumet City.

"Last week, it took me 30 minutes to get to work from the Red Line at 95th to my stop Downtown at Jackson," Harris said. "Believe it or not, once I got to 95th, it took me 15 minutes to get Downtown. I arrived at 95th at 7:30 and then rode the shuttle bus to the Green Line [55th and Garfield Boulevard]. That took about seven minutes and I rode the Green Line Downtown, another seven or eight minutes."

Steve Mayberry, a CTA spokesman, said the agency recently invested $20 million in upgrading the Green Line tracks, which allows trains to move faster than those on the Red Line tracks.

"There are no 'slow zones' on the Green Line, so the ride goes much faster. But once we complete the Red Line reconstruction, train riders will experience a faster ride on the Red Line as well."

Construction worker Sylvester Wilcox, 51, lives in south suburban Harvey but works Downtown.

He said his workday begins at 8 a.m., so he normally arrives to the Red Line station at 95th and State streets at 7:15 a.m. Coming home he normally takes the Red Line from the State/Lake station Downtown around 4:10 p.m. and arrives at the 95th Street station 30 minutes later.

"The ride was not bad. It took five extra minutes for me to get to work today [Monday] but that's fine," Wilcox said. "Before they tore up the Red Line it would take me 30 minutes to get Downtown [from the Red Line station at 95th] but today [Monday] it took 35 minutes. As long as I get to work on time, I am OK with the reconstruction."