In June, the Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) announced that they will need to close down the Red Line train line for 5 months to complete renovations necessary to improve transit times for Southside riders. The announcement was met with mixed reactions. Some applauded the action as others felt that Southsiders were getting a raw deal. Subsequently, it was announced that the City of Chicago had secured a grant to renovate the 95th Street station. The station which acts a transfer hub to the far southside, south suburbs and points out of state. Again, the announcement was met with mixed reactions as details started coming out that some private property would need to be purchased to complete the project.
Many southsiders ride the "Red Line" as a result of past renovations and station closings on the "Green Line" that serves the Southeast and Southwest sides. During past renovations some stations were renovated and other stops were closed and some were completed torn down. The rationale for eliminating these stations was low ridership and safety. Some riders got frustrated and never returned to the "Green Line" and have ridden the "Red Line" ever since.
Some on the far Southeast side avoid CTA as much as possible by riding the South Shore electric line which starts in Michigan City, indiana and ends in Downtown Chicago. For many, they do not use this option because they site cost and inconvenience. Now with less than six months until the start of the project, many riders are starting to seriously look at what their options are. Those communities near the "Green Line" east and west are looking at what stops will see increase in traffic. How will the traffic impact their communities? Will there be any economic benefit?
Recently, I was contacted about another option, the "Gray Line". What is the "Gray Line"? The "Gray Line" is the Metra Southeast electric line that serve the Southeast side of Chicago. The stops start east and end up in Blue Island which is a suburb that borders Chicago on the Southwest. The stops include the University of Chicago and Chicago State University. Currently, the Chicago State University stop is under going renovations and there are long term plans to expand the stop.
There are some good reasons to expand this line. It would reduce the number of riders reliant on buses traveling east and west to Red Line stops. While most of the stations are modern and well lit some of the smaller stations require entry/exit through viaducts and that worries some. Also, some of the stops do not provide the seamless train to bus connections that the Red Line stations currently provide.
Long-term the "Gray Line" appears to provide the greatest economic benefit as it expands through a number of communities and travels further south than the "Green Line". Per, the website the line would cost approximately $200.0 million and create 8-10,000 jobs. These facts have not been verified but appear to be worth looking into.
Would this be a viable option long term? A powerpoint presentation is available at https://www.box.com/shared/2iuoc4khdl