Here's the final installment in our look at CTA news in 2011, finishing with the last three months of this year.
October: The CTA begins installation of Bus Tracker arrival info signs at bus shelters. The CTA appeared to be setting the stage - and the tone - for upcoming union negotiations in its announcement of 200 jobs cut and reduction of some some vacation and sick pay benefits. More cash was dedicated to a new elevator and rehab at the Wilson Red Line station. Mayor Emanuel released his plan to charge a "congestion" tax on downtown parking that would fund CTA improvements. We learned that the new 5000 Series rail cars would start revenue service on the Pink Line. President Forrest Claypool release a surprise budget with no fare hike or service cuts - if the union cooperates with $80 million in givebacks. We had a good lesson on how an iPhone theft victim got the thugs arrested. We ended October with a fun photo caption contest - Rahm zombie!
November: The CTA entered the social media world with a bang on Nov. 1. Gov. Quinn came up with about $650 million for rehab of the Red Line Dan Ryan branch and two station overhauls. Talk about wilding. A teen-ager punched out a homeless guy on CTA Red Line platform while a friend helpfully filmed the action. The video went viral. The CTA board OKed a construction agreement on the agency's first bus rapid transit (BRT) project. It will begin in spring of 2012 along Jeffery
Boulevard between 67th and 103rd streets. The board also approved an agreement to implement a new fare-collection systems featuring the use of contactless cards riders can tap against rail turnstiles and bus fareboxes. The CTA touted the early completion of its effort to install surveillance cameras at all 144 rail stations.
December: A shooting near the Wilson Red Line station shut down service for about five hours during the height of the evening rush in early December. About a dozen CTA Tattler fans joined us for a very crowded but festive ride on the CTA's Holiday Train. The CTa got a federal grant to repair slow zones on 3.6 miles of Blue Line track between Damen and Belmont. A flaw in the quality of a casting used to create wheel bearing housings forced the CTA to pull the new Series 5000 rail cars from service on the Pink Line.