UPDATED 06/09/11 8:11 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — More new CTA ‘L’ cars are beginning to arrive.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, the CTA took delivery of two more new cars last week and Newsradio 780 has learned that delivery of additional cars will start in the coming week, even though Chicago Transit Authority president Forrest Claypool says the cars have not been given final approval.

“I don’t think (final approval will be) too much longer,” he said. “A little bit more testing, we’re doing some testing, we’re checking out the elements, and so it’s just part of the process, but we’re getting close.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts Reports

The prototypes that have been tested extensively across the CTA rapid transit system will be shipped back to manufacturer Bombardier’s Plattsburgh, N.Y., production facility to get some tweaks and software upgrades to make them uniform with the rest of the 706-car order.

The two cars, delivered last week by over-the-road flatbed trucks to CTA Skokie Shops, were prototypes that had been held at the Bombardier factory since being built in 2009.

The delivery of the cars, numbered 5001 and 5002, allow the CTA to begin fielding two six-car trains of the new equipment, which have different propulsion systems from older cars and cannot run in the same train with them.

Claypool said CTA mechanical engineers assured him that most major problems have been addressed, and that mostly “minor issues” remained.

While the plan remains to replace the CTA’s two oldest series of ‘L’ cars, produced in 1969-70 and 1976-78, Claypool is not yet ready to say how many of the CTA’s 2600-series will remain when the deliveries are complete in about three years. He said more capacity is needed at peak periods, but said it is not as simple as assigning more cars to the Red, Blue and Brown Lines.

He said that slow zones prevent the CTA from scheduling at optimum capacity, especially on the Red Line. CTA is seeking federal funding to assist with Red and Purple Line reconstruction. Concrete bridges on the portions of the Purple Line and the Red Line’s Howard leg date from as early as 1910, many are crumbling and capital reconstruction money is being sought from the federal government.

“Everything is related to everything else,” he said.

Claypool said the need for years to take money from the CTA’s capital budget to pay operating expenses has not helped. The Sept. 1 limitations on free rides for seniors to those who are low-income are expected to generate only $7-10 million a year in additional revenues.

The CTA’s board also has approved names for three ‘L’ stations, two of which are new. The new infill station on the Skokie Swift at Oakton Street will bear the name Oakton-Skokie, while the existing terminal will become Dempster-Skokie, to differentiate it from the Dempster station on the Purple Line.
The Oakton-Skokie station is expected to open by year’s end.

The CTA also will add a stop at Morgan and Lake Streets on the Green Line. It will be named simply “Morgan.” It is expected to open in the spring of 2012.

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