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City Will Pull Buses From Lakefront During Blizzard

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Cars are buried in snow on Lake Shore Drive after the Blizzard of 2011. (Credit: "Rock"/User Photo)

Cars are buried in snow on Lake Shore Drive after the Blizzard of 2011. (Credit: “Rock”/User Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA and the city of Chicago are taking steps to make sure that if another blizzard socks the city, buses won’t be stranded on Lake Shore Drive.

CTA President Forrest Claypool said, during taping of WBBM’s “At Issue” program, that the next time a blizzard threatens, buses will be diverted from the lakefront.

“We now have different protocols for when buses go on Lake Shore Drive, and in the types of conditions we saw [in February] there will be protocols triggered that will not allow them to go on the drive, so that will be one big change,” he said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts Reports

CTA faced a torrent of criticism for continuing to route buses onto Lake Shore Drive as traffic bogged down Feb. 1, and the stranded buses were among the most difficult vehicles to clear in the days following. Claypool said that the city’s Emergency Command Center will make the call.

In addition, Claypool said that the universal fare card technology expected to be unveiled on the CTA, Metra and Pace sometime in 2013 will be capable of triggering a hidden surprise–a zoned fare system on ‘L’ trains and buses.

CTA currently charges a flat $2.25 fare that allows a rider to take the ‘L’ from Wilmette to the southernmost point on the ‘L’ system, 95th Street and any station in between.

“That is something that could be looked at, in the context of changes, if you were trying to make changes that would have the least impact but would affect the finances and could be looked at,” he said. “But that’s not something we have made any decisions on.”

There is no legal impediment to setting up a zoned system, which is used on Metra and in a number of other cities.

CTA imposed a surcharge as recently as 1997 on Purple Line Express trains, and back in the 1960s rapid transit fares to and from Evanston and Skokie were higher than those for trips in the city.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts Reports

In the suburbs, some privately owned bus lines had zoned fares before their takeover by the RTA, and eventually Pace.

The complete Claypool interview can be heard at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday on WBBM.

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