News pickup: "L" Loop project slow; more wood platforms being replaced on Brown Line

After five days at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, I'm getting caught up on some CTA news. Special thanks to Patrick Barry for covering the announcement of the Loop bus rapid transit project.

Loop track project off to slow start. Following a two-week break after its first weekend Loop "L" track replacement, the CTA will resume the $39 million project this weekend. But it will take another weekend off next week due to the NATO summit meetings. The Tribune reported the contractor replaced just 300 feet of track that first weekend, though the CTA had first expected 1,000 feet to be repaired. But the CTA now tells the Trib it's happy with the progress. We'll keep an eye on this.

Brown Line platform problems grow. We've reported in the past that the CTA has had to replace new wood platforms at Brown Line stations because the wood was not weather-resistant. Now it turns out the problem is more prevalent. The Tribune reports wood will be replaced on three more Brown Line platforms: at the Armitage, Sedgwick and Kedzie stations.

New rail cars back on Pink Line. After about five months of wheel housing replacements, the new Series 5000 rail cars are back on track on the Pink Line. The CTA plans to put all 54 cars in the first delivery in service on the Pink Line. And yes, the aisle-facing seats are still in place, despite many rider complaints, including this text message from my daughter Sunday: "I'm currently wedged between two butts on the new rail cars ... HATE!" A CTA Tattler poll last year showed that 50% prefered bench seating, and 29% wanted to dump the longitudinal seating entirely.

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  • You also missed last night's Chicagoland Breaking News that the NABIs are heading to the junkyard.

    I estimate that this leaves CTA with a claim on which it is seeking judgment of about $50 million, but Hilkevitch's article indicates some doubt whether that judgment, if finally entered, will be collectible.

    So, we have two legacies of the Kruesi administration right here (throw in $500 million spent on the Brown Line, where we already have a bill for replacing the wooden platforms), but apparently some of your readers still think that CTA management is competent, if not godlike. At least though, unlike Kruesi, someone put the stop order on Bombardier until those parts were replaced.

  • In reply to jack:

    I wonder how much you get for scrapping an entire accordion bus...

    Yeah, sure would be nice if the CTA could recover some of this money spent on these buses, or even come out ahead by suing the parent company.

    Are these buses currently needed with the service cuts? I have to imagine they'll need some sooner or later with the rising ridership.

  • In reply to chris:

    Since CTA bids scrap equipment out based on plus or minus the scrap metal index per ton at the scale at the scrap yard, I'm sure there is a way of figuring it out.

    As far as "are these buses needed," Rodriguez about admitted that Huberman was engaged in deception when Ron said buses 4000-4149 were to be used to replace 6000s 3 for 4, when in fact they were used to replace the NABIs. So, the NABIs won't be replaced directly, because they already were. Also, the service cuts were given as the reason why the 6000s were retired in 2010, so they won't be replaced either. The CTA budget only speaks about replacements for the Novas (and the first batch of those will have lasted the mandated 12 years), but except for grants that were announced but apparently not implemented for 40 buses, CTA says it doesn't have the money.

    The only way there will be any relief to crowding is if a 40 foot Nova is replaced with a 60 foot bus on a 1-1 basis.One thing I bet is that the 60 foot bus will not be a NABI, so it looks like either New Flyer or Nova--if any replacements appear. Ask Durbin where the buses he promised are.

  • In reply to jack:

    Is it mandatory for the purchaser to actually scrap the NABIs?
    Based on the published reports of what's cracked or worn out, my guess is that they can be repaired & sold & the buyer will make money.
    They would make interesting motor homes for the rich & wouldn't suffer the intense use the CTA gives them.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    This comes down to the application of Article 2, Part 6, Breach, of the Uniform Commercial Code. When you get down to it, a bus is still a "good."

    Basically CTA is dealing with section 2-603, under which the buyer is to comply with the seller's instructions and may sell the goods on the seller's account. There may be technicalities on whether CTA is a merchant buyer and went through the steps to reject the goods, but the theory of that section seems applicable.

    The article says that "But an agreement between NABI and the CTA enables the agency to sell 10 buses a week for scrap starting June 14." So it was an agreement (with regard to any relevance to whether CTA was forced to scrap the buses).

    However, NABI entering into such agreement indicates that its press release of April 23, 2009 (link in a reply to this post) that it would "recall the buses and make repairs," if ever true, and I doubt that, certainly isn't controlling NABI's thought process now.

    If NABI, after several years of litigation, including the right to inspect the buses pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 214, has come to the conclusion that the buses may be scrapped, any idea of NABI taking them back and then selling them to some third-world country, for instance, must be out the window.

    Similarly, CTA has, at least since Rich Rodriguez, taken the position that the buses are unsafe, it, of course, would agree to taking them off the property and recouping the scrap value, but is gambling on that it is going to get a judgment. Given the stage to which the litigation has progressed, that probably is a good bet. Personally, I don't think this is going to a jury trial, but I am not any of the parties' attorney.

    In any event, under UCC sec. 2-714, the measure of damages is the difference in value between the goods as warranted and as delivered, so however CTA disposes of the goods only is in mitigation of what NABI would owe under that standard.

  • In reply to jack:

    Link to NABI press release. Separate post, since Chicago Now's software accepts only one link.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    If your reference is to the purchaser, CTA RFPs for scrap buses, such as for 120 6000 series buses, is as I represented, per ton at the scrap yard, and contain references to salvage titles and indemnity in case anyone else gets their hands on the buses. So, CTA has CYA pretty well in that situation. It isn't like Pace, where the RFPs are basically that you haul it off the property and provide proof of registration of a new title, whether by salvage or otherwise.

    If you have ever been by 77th, CTA paints "scrap" and "defueled" on its scrap, and reportedly rips out the hoses and the like.

    Sorry if my first reply was not directly responsive.

  • CTA made a really big deal of announcing the work on the Loop Track Renewal project last month - giving the dates of the weekends that work would be happening and when riders would be severely inconvenienced.
    So, when they decided not to do the work on two of the previously-announced weekends (the last two weekends), did they inform customers that this work was cancelled? Or did they just wait until after the two weekends had passed and then said - "hey, by the way, we didn't do any Loop 'L' closures for the last two weekends, so you could have ridden the elevated routes with no inconvenience. Ooops, did we forget to tell you?" What gives with that?

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