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Red Line Construction: Smooth Sailing So Far for Most CTA Commuters

By Wendell Hutson | June 27, 2013 8:23am
 CTA riders say they have experienced few if any delays during the Red Line South construction project.
CTA Riders
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CHICAGO — A little more than a month into the $425 million Red Line South Reconstruction project, many CTA riders said they approved of the job the transit agency was doing thus far.

DNAinfo.com Chicago traveled with riders on the Green Line and several shuttle buses Wednesday to find out how their commutes have gone since the May 19 Red Line South shutdown.

"It's a smooth ride for me," said Ericka Miles, 24, who lives in south suburban Riverdale. "Actually, it takes me less time to get to work [Downtown] now than it did when the Red Line was running. It used to take an hour and a half to get from my place to Downtown, but now it takes about an hour."

Rashan Easter, who lives in Roseland and works in Chatham, said his commute to work is faster, too.

"It takes me about 20 minutes, versus 30 minutes when I was taking the train," said the 34-year-old eye technician. "Everything seems more organized now that the train is not running. There are plenty of shuttle buses, and they run express to the Green Line. And the buses are not crowded either."

Jennifer Dabney, 48, travels twice a week from her home in the South Loop to visit friends in Chatham.

"Not a bad ride, if I have to say so myself. Once I get on the bus [at the Garfield station], I am there [in Chatham] in no time," said Dabney.

Ron McEwen said his commute from his Roseland home to work had been shortened by 15 minutes.

"I certainly don't have a problem with a fast bus ride," he said. "I went from one hour to 45 minutes. I hope this quick service continues once the CTA is done fixing the Red Line."

Customer feedback has been mostly positive since the Red Line closed for the five-month project last month, CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry said.

"In fact, after the first week of alternative service, CTA heard from several customers that said it was actually faster to take a shuttle from 95th Street to Garfield Green [about 12-14 minutes] than to take the old Red Line between 95th and Garfield Red [about 16-18 minutes]," he said.

A week after the $425 million project began, the CTA had to add more buses along four routes, including two that run through Chatham.

The CTA "added capacity on the No. 3 King Drive, No. 4 Cottage Grove, No. 14 Jeffery and No. 29 State Street to meet rider demand," Mayberry said, adding the agency "heavily staffed shuttle stops and the Garfield station with Red Line ambassadors, customer assistants and managers at closed Red Line stations to help passengers with their commuting questions."

The No. 3 and No. 29 buses run through Chatham, the No. 4 runs though Grand Crossing, and the No. 14 runs through South Shore.

Mayberry said the project was on track to be completed by October, and the CTA hired 400 [permanent] part-time bus drivers to staff the shuttle buses.  The Office of Emergency Management and Communications hired 100 traffic control aides to direct traffic.

The additional buses and employees could be why many CTA riders said they approved of the job the transit agency was doing so far.

But at least one rider said she had seen her commute time increase.

"When the Red Line was running, I could get Downtown [from 95th Street] in 20 minutes. But now that I have to take a shuttle bus to the Green Line and then the Green Line Downtown, it takes close to an hour," said Briana McCoy, 20, who lives in south suburban Calumet City.