The new year holds much promise for CTA riders expecting their journeys to be faster, safer and more comfortable.
It also promises to cost the majority of regular commuters a little bit more, as the price for various passes is set to increase on Jan. 14.
Here's what to look for in 2013 from the CTA.
System improvements - finishing the job
The CTA this year should finish up a number of rail system improvement projects that they started in 2012:
- The Red Line Interim Station Improvement Project. Beginning in May 2012, seven stations and platforms at the north end of the Red Line underwent extensive renovation ($86 million worth) to extend their usefulness - hopefully till the Red Purple Modernization Project gets funding to the tune of $2-to-$4 billion.
- About $15 million in slow zone repairs on the north Red Line. The CTA extended the scope of the Red north project to include track and viaduct repairs in the same area.
- Bus modernization. The CTA is buying up to 100 new articulated (60-foot) buses by piggybacking on a contract belonging to King County Metro, Seattle’s public transit agency. Delivery of the 100 New Flyer articulated buses – a combination of 33 hybrid diesel-electric and 67 clean-diesel buses – has begun and will continue through 2013. Read more at Chicagobus.org.
- Continued delivery of new 5000 Series rail cars. The new cars are already in service on the Pink, Green and Red lines. New cars will come throughout the year. Word is the next lines set for the new cars are the Brown, Orange, Yellow and Purple - probably in that order.
- Replacement of the Purple Line viaducts.
- Decrowding project. This started on Dec. 16, but we won't know whether it truly works until we get a few months of ridership data this year.
- The $34 million Loop Track Renewal project should finish up early this year. It wil replace two miles of rail and track components on the downtown "L."
- Loyola Red Line improvements. A rehabbed station house, viaducts, tracks and new plaza should all be ready for use in the summer of this year.
New improvements, initiatives for 2013
The CTA last year announced a number of new improvement projects and other initiatives set to begin in 2012:
- The Red Line South Track Renewal Project. No doubt, this is the biggest 2013 project, funded at $425 million. The Red Line from Cermak/Chinatown to 95th will be closed for five months beginning in May. Everything in the track bed will be replaced.
- Wilson station reconstruction. This $203 million station rebuilding project will begin mid-2013. It's scheduled to take almost three years to complete, with the station remaining open the entire time.
- New fare payment system to debut. Both the CTA and Pace will begin using the new contactless payment card called Ventra in summer of this year. Many customers will be able to use bank cards they already have or use the Ventra cards. Ultimately, the CTA should be totally out of the fare card business by 2014.
- Higher fares for pass users. And you'll be able to use those Ventra cards as passes, and pay more in 2013. Of course, you'll pay more on Jan. 14, about six months before Ventra debuts