Reporting Bob Roberts
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CHICAGO (WBBM) – Relief is just up the track for CTA riders who are unable to squeeze aboard their trains.
CTA currently has a fleet of 1,190 ‘L’ cars. But the agency’s new president, Forrest Claypool, says when its 700 new ‘L’ cars are delivered, CTA will retire only about 500.
The problem is worst during the morning rush period weekdays at close-in stations on the Blue and Red Lines. CTA has turned around some rush-hour Blue Line trains each weekday at Jefferson Park and at the UIC/Halsted stop to try to create extra capacity, but crowding has persisted.
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Despite that, Claypool said, during taping of the WBBM “At Issue” program, that more ‘L’ cars alone are not the answer to overcrowding.
He said all of those additional trains require the infrastructure to help them move.
“If we can’t provide the new power needed in some places, if we can’t fix the slow zones on throughout the system, which requires hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, that will affect our ability to truly add capacity,” he said. “So it’s a multi-dimensional game here.”
He said slow zones and crumbling viaducts make it difficult for trains to run at the speeds necessary to eliminate overcrowding.
Claypool said the new ‘L’ cars soon will be arriving at the rate of one a day from manufacturer Bombardier. Delivery of the full order is expected to take three years.
Even with the expanded fleet, the new cars will allow CTA to retire its two oldest series of ‘L’ cars. The 2200 series cars have been in service since 1969-70. The 2400 series cars were delivered 1976-78.
Hear the Claypool interview, in its entirety, on WBBM’s “At Issue,” which airs at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday on Newsradio 780.