Updated 09/19/11 – 6:16 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — CTA ‘SWAT teams’ will embark on a consolidated effort over the next 12 months to spruce up 100 CTA rail stations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Tuesday.
Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced the $25 million program to spruce up CTA subway and ‘L’ stations, starting with the Logan Square station on the Blue Line.
The repairs will vary, depending on individual needs.
The work – done by combining different trade workers into ‘Renew Crews’ – will include painting, new lighting, general repairs, power washing walls and ceilings, replacing signs and landscaping.
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The CTA’s so-called ‘SWAT Team’ started at the Logan Square station, which opened in 1970, was cleaned, new lighting was added, walls and stairs were repaired and escalators were improved.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine rode the ‘L’ with Emanuel on Tuesday for a first-hand look at what was being done.
Emanuel is a regular on the CTA, often taking the Brown Line to work in the morning. He also took the Blue Line back to City Hall from Logan Square after showing off the first cleanup job, so Levine and a CBS 2 camera crew paid their fare and jumped on board with the mayor.
The work was already done at the Logan Square station when the mayor showed up – fresh paint, bright lights, new flat screen monitors, and state of the art security cameras.
That will be the model for similar efforts at other stations, Emanuel said after boarding the Blue Line and greeting commuters, who by and large believe the facelift was long overdue for stations that have been neglected for years.
“They’re terrible, they’re dingy, they’re dirty,” said one man at the Blue Line subway station near City Hall.
“They should’ve started a long time ago, I mean what are we paying for?” one woman asked.
“The people that pay for this don’t pay for a bureaucracy. They pay for a platform that’s well lit, good service and safe and secure – and that’s what we’re investing in,” Emanuel said.
Cuts in that bureaucracy will be footing at least part of the 25 million dollar bill for the joint CTA private contractor makeover.
“When they come to a station they come as a SWAT team,” Emanuel said.
Later Tuesday, that SWAT team was on display several blocks south of the Logan Square station at the California stop, where an army of tradesmen was literally attacking the California station by stripping peeling paint, chipping away at crumbling concrete and improving lighting.
Tradesmen from throughout the system were brought together for a station-by-station assault of 100 CTA stops.
“By consolidating disparate trades that used to operate independently – on different schedules and at different locations, the station renewal program will integrate supplemental specialized private trade contractors,” said Claypool. “This is sort of SWAT team approach to comprehensively address all the outstanding issues at a station at once – cleaning, repairing and improving rather than the piecemeal approach used previously.”
The Mayor called the money well spent, pointing to the 20% increase in traffic at the so-called “Apple stop” at North and Clybourn, anchored by the Apple Store which footed the bill for the makeover.
“We will get this $25 million investment back many many times over, because we’ll improve ridership, improve the city’s economic competitiveness,” Emanuel said.
The mayor also said that improving the city’s mass transit system would give Chicago an advantage over other cities when companies are looking to expand.
The CTA has added a link on its web site where customers can learn which station is receiving a renewal in addition to the next stations scheduled each month. The website also will allow customers to provide feedback on the work completed.
Claypool said the CTA is paying for the $25 million project by cutting in other areas—mostly through cutbacks in CTA management, which he said saved about $18 million.