RIVER NORTH — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday hopped the newest CTA bus — decked out to celebrate the Chicago Cubs' trip to the World Series — before promising to continue his push to make the transit system "quiet, reliable, efficient and safe."
Speaking at the City Club of Chicago, Emanuel promised every CTA bus or train car will be new — or fully rehabbed — by the end of 2019 as part of his effort to make the transit agency "a 21st century transportation system that serves all parts of the city."
CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. said that push was behind the "unprecedented capital investment" to extend the Red Line south to 130th Street while rebuilding it north of Belmont Avenue along with the Purple Line through Evanston.
While the CTA's plans to rebuild the 109-year-old Belmont Flyover have met with fierce opposition from some Lakeview residents, Carter said the project was critical to ending chronic overcrowding that forces passengers to wait for extended periods until space opens on Red and and Brown line trains.
Once complete, the 7,200 more passengers will be able to move through the intersection of the Red, Brown and Purple lines at the Belmont station, Carter said.
Plans are also in the works to allow CTA passengers to pay their fares using their smart phones, Carter said.
Carter acknowledged that getting the app to work has been "a little bit of a challenge" but said the agency was in discussions with several technology firms.
The bus Emanuel and Carter rode Monday is the last of a 425-bus order to roll off the assembly line and hit the streets of Chicago, officials said.
The 40-foot buses feature 10 security cameras, and feature the latest pollution-reduction technology and feature an all-electric ramp to help those in wheelchairs board the buses.
In addition, a successful test earlier this year means between 20 and 30 electric buses will be added to the CTA fleet, Carter said.
A new series of rail cars will hit the tracks by 2020, making the CTA fleet among the youngest in its history, with an average age of 13 years.
Every day, passengers take 1.6 million rides a day, about half by bus and half by rail, Carter said.
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