Details on added CTA rail service; 2 electric buses added to fleet

As part of its 2015 budget announcement, the CTA noted it was adding trains to rush hour service on some lines. Here are the details.

Some extra service already has been added in the last month. On September 29, additional rush-period service was added on the Red, Brown and Purple Lines:

  • Red Line: 2 AM and 2 PM weekday rush-period trips
  • Purple Line: 1 additional PM weekday rush-period trip
  • Brown Line: 1 additional AM weekday rush-period trip

Additional service will be implemented on November 2 on the Brown and Orange Lines:

Brown Line

    • 5 weekday evening trips
    • Earlier and later service from Kimball to downtown on Sundays. Brown Line shuttles currently operating between Kimball and Belmont between the hours of 5:00 AM and 6:30 AM and 11:50 PM and 12:30 AM will be extended to downtown instead of turning at Belmont and forcing customers traveling to and from downtown to transfer between the Brown and Red Lines. Service will also be extended later into the evening.
    • Sunday early AM:
    • Service from Kimball to Loop begins at 5 AM instead of 6:30 AM
    • Service from the Loop to Kimball begins at 5:35 AM instead of 7:03 AM (time from Washington/Wells)
    • Sunday late night:
      • Service from Kimball to Loop extended from 11:50 PM to 1 AM
      • Service from Loop to Kimball extended from 12:23 AM to 1:35 AM (time from Washington/Wells)

Orange Line: 12 trips on Saturday between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Additional service to be added in 2015 includes:

Blue Line: 2 additional rush-period trips
Orange Line: 2 additional rush-period trips

Two electric-powered buses added to fleet. The CTA today unveiled the first two all-electric buses. They are part on an effort to replace 14-year-old buses. The buses feature a quieter ride and lower emissions.


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  • On the electric bus one, you got suckered by the CTA press release.

    The only reason those two buses are here is that there was an ARRA grant for them. I'm surprised Durbin didn't make a photo op out of it.

    A poster on pointed out that the numbers in the press release don't add up. If you look at the 5 year capital plan, there is only enough money for about 350 of the 450 Nova Buses promised, at $488,000/bus. No money for buses at $1.2 million a bus.

    Besides that, one should read the portions of the Tribune article on the fuel cell buses (the hulks of which are still sitting in the 77th yard after being put out of service about 2 years after they were put into service in 1996) and the thread on 900s OOS, noting that those hybrids are being auctioned for junk after 7 years.

    In short, someone in PR was on heavy acid when they wrote that press release.

  • In reply to jack:

    It will be interesting if the CTA finds there are decreased fuel and maintenance costs after a year of testing. As they could use that savings over the life cycle of the bus to fund the cost difference up front. The CTA article references the $55,000 yearly respiratory impact of diesel buses, so a grant from a health organization could also be used to fill that funding gap based on the healthcare savings down the line.

    I'm hoping we get into funding more improvements to our fleets through realizing the inherent costs of operating a belching diesel fleet. We need to make the environmental costs of dirty technology part of the up front costs, otherwise their low costs are only due to shoving the costs of mitigation onto health agencies.

  • In reply to ArchiJake:

    Check out the link below on that the numbers don't add up. Even the numbers CTA gave in the press release were short $400,000/bus.

    No different than trying to say that one will save on gas burned by a hybrid Camry by buying a Tesla. No way the initial cost is recouped.

  • 900s OOS link.

  • Try again the link for the numbers don't add up reference.

  • Do the electric buses feature some even more wrongheaded seating configurations than we have seen on CTA buses so far? Wouldn't surprise me.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    It is indicated that it is the usual cross seats. Some pictures here

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, there are enough forward-facing seats to satisfy me. I actually prefer the ones in the back if I can get to them. They usually don't have their seats too high off the floor for someone who's not above average height. And you can see what's going on in the rest of the bus including at the back door, and work out your exit strategy.

    The only thing that makes me "cross" about this configuration is that when getting to the back from the front, or back to the front to alight (if I fear that the step to the ground from the back door will be too big) there's not a lot to grab on to as the bus lurches unpredictably. I suppose if some day I am seriously injured as a result then I will be entitled to call myself disabled and therefore have a right to complain about how I got that way.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    One thing noted by others about the NF Xcelsior bus is that the first step is at an angle, which may make what you describe a bit trickier.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    BusHunter just pointed out that there are actually fewer longitudinal seats in the back of the bus (only one on each side over the hump).

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I saw #700, the green one on the 124 this morning.
    Yep, the usual rotten sideways seats in the front.
    I don't care what anyone says, I'm convinced that CTA management hates the passengers!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    If you are referring to the flip up seats for the wheelchair position, every bus has those. There appear to be two more on the left side, but certainly not an arrangement like in the 4150s.

    But maybe you hate complying with the ADA.

  • In reply to jack:

    The problem is that the CTA insists on putting the flip up seats all on one side lately, instead of putting them opposite of each other at the front, thus making it possible to have two rows of front facing seats on each side.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Nothing new about that, as, for instance, the 4400s were like that (but the 2 positions were on the left). There may be an effect of 1 or 2 more, but this bus seems to have the max of front facing seats. As I said, this certainly isn't a 4150.

    I guess you never rode a Pace 6000-6161. Because of the undercar equipment on the right side, the right seats are longitudinal, while there are 2 wheelchair positions on the left. Only cross seats are in the back.

  • For us mere mortals uninitiated in the art of El operation, how does the outbound Brown Line service start at Washington/Wells at 5:35 am when the first inbound train leaves Kimball at 5:00 am? That first train is going to take longer than 35 minutes to reach the Loop. Do they pre-stage trains during overnight period?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I believe that's a train known as a "Brownage".
    It starts at Midway, but becomes a Brown at Washington/Wells, but this train is on the Inner Loop track, instead of normal operation on the Outer Loop.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    But according to the schedule linked below, the first one isn't until 6:31 a.m. The morning ones are marked on the schedule with a K.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I don't know where you get your numbers. The timetable posted on the CTA site effective May 18, 2014 (I guess it changes Sunday) shows on the first weekday line Lv Kimball 4 a.m., Ar. Adams/Wabash 4:37 a.m., Lv Adams/Wabash 4:37 a.m., Ar. Kimball 5:15 a.m. Since there isn't a dashed out line before Lv Adams/Wabash, it is the same train. And, unless the timetable is totally fraudulent (and I doubt that) it takes 37 minutes. The stated time at Mdse Mart is 4:32, so 4:35 at Washington Wells is somewhere between there and Adams/Wabash.

  • In reply to jack:

    I got the 5 am from the top of this thread. Is that incorrect?

    I see the early morning trains have a shorter travel time (37 minutes). I assume this is due to fewer riders, and therefore quicker unloading/loading times. I can't imagine a rush hour train making it downtown in 40 minutes, as the schedule notes. 5 minutes from Merchandise Mart to Adams/Wabash? Sure, when the planets align. It frequently takes me 10 minutes from Chicago to LaSalle/Van Buren due to congestion.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    It appears to refer to Sunday. All of this refers to running trains to the Loop instead of a shuttle to Belmont, as is the case now as reflected in the May 18 schedule. See Customer Alert.

    Definitely, travel time Sunday is not going to be like 8 a.m. Monday.

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