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CTA changes would improve service
This is in response to Mr. Zenny Sadlon’s letter “CTA neglecting everyday commuters” which appeared in this newspaper on January 24, 2006.

As part of a package of proposed bus and rail service improvements for the West Side and West Suburbs presented to the CTA Board in November, 2005, CTA is proposing to provide a 180 day experiment of increased rail service to customers using both the Forest Park and 54th/Cermak Branches of the Blue Line. As noted by Mr. Sadlon, the number of trains serving the Forest Park Branch would approximately double at all times; however, his statement that the proposed changes would inconvenience 54th/Cermak Branch customers destined for downtown is incorrect.

The proposed plan calls for service on the 54th/Cermak Branch to be approximately doubled resulting in shorter wait times for our customers. CTA’s proposed rerouting also means a substantially faster commute for the majority of the 54th/Cermak Branch customers (up to ten minutes faster to Clark & Lake -our busiest downtown station). Furthermore, it creates more connections to CTA rail lines and Metra stations downtown to enhance reverse commute opportunities. From a customer’s perspective the result will be shorter waits on both Blue Line branches as well as faster trips on the 54th/Cermak Branch.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sadlon’s suggestion of doubling service on the 54th/Cermak Branch while rerouting every other train would deny improvements in service frequency to the more than 26,000 customers who currently board at Forest Park Branch stations “and many others who would be attracted to the increased service.

Ridership data indicates implementing the proposed changes will improve service for the vast majority of affected customers on both these branches of the Blue Line enhancing speed and access to both West Side and West Suburban communities. Of the 46,400 daily customers who will be affected by the change, only 3 percent (1,300 customers) may have less direct service. To accommodate these customers, the CTA will continue to provide rush hour service along the current route.

In addition, planned service enhancements on 14 West Side bus routes will also provide them with increased transit options and improved service.

This comes as part of an ongoing process that has included nine community workshops, a tri-lingual origin-destination survey, analysis of nearly 2 million individual rail farecard transactions, outreach to various stakeholders including elected officials and three community open houses. As with other successful service improvements (such as those along the North and South Lakeshore Corridor) there will be opportunity to adjust service levels and routings during the experimental periods.

Michael J. Shiffer, PhDVice President, Planning & DevelopmentChicago Transit Authority