CTA notes good progress made on accessibility; still more work to do

The CTA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act this week by noting the strides it has made in making public transit accessible. But there is more work to do.

The act was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, ensuring the civil rights of people with disabilities. The legislation has expanded opportunities for people with disabilities including the mandate of accessible public transportation services that help to eliminate barriers and enable full participation in community life.

CTA bus wheelchair ramp

The CTA notes it has made a number of achievements that have helped to make its bus and rail service more accessible. From the press release:

  • Buses: Since 2004, all CTA buses have been accessible to riders and feature ramps, priority seating areas that include wheelchair securement devices, Braille signage, automated voice announcements – interior and exterior -- for all stops and also LED signage.
  • Trains: All rail cars in the fleet are wheelchair accessible and feature designated priority seating and wheelchair securement areas, Braille signage and automated announcements. More than 700 of the new 5000-series rail cars are in use along the Red, Green Pink, Purple and Yellow lines, which feature two wheelchair positions per car, visual indicators and destination signs and improved LED displays that complement recorded announcements to assist individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
  • Rail Stations: Nearly 70 percent (100 of 145) stations are currently accessible via elevators or ramps. Work is currently either planned or underway at seven stations to enhance or make the facilities compliant with ADA guidelines. Rail station accessibility features include either elevators or ramps; entry gates; tactile edging along the platform to assist in navigation; Braille signage, audio announcements and gap fillers to bridge the space between the platform and rail cars.
  • Service Information: Currently, 350 bus shelters are equipped with Bus Tracker displays that feature an audio component, which emits a low-tone beep so it can be easily located. This feature provides customers who are blind or visually impaired with audible estimated bus arrival information. In addition, CTA’s web site, transitchicago.com, meets modern web standards, as well as federal and state guidelines for accessibility; and
  • Travel Information: Instructional materials are available that familiarize riders with accessible features of the system and how to contact CTA personnel for assistance when riding or what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Employee Training: Every two years operations personnel are recertified on employing proper procedures when assisting customers with disabilities. Additionally, the CTA employs a Manager of ADA Compliance Programs, a position that interacts within all levels of the organization to ensure compliance within the law, as well as to promote best practices in terms of accommodating customers and staff who have disabilities.
  • Elevators: status information is available online, via e-mail, phone or TTY, and on the Elevator Status Boards located in all rail stations.
  • ADA Advisory Committee: Established by the Chicago Transit Board, this committee serves in an advisory capacity to the CTA and has up to 12 members appointed to two-year terms. This committee is responsible for providing recommendations on the CTA’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), facilitating a dialogue between the CTA and the disability community, and increasing the use of the CTA’s services by people with disabilities. ADA Advisory Committee meetings are held quarterly at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street.

The CTA in the last four years also has added accessibility to five rail stations, with seven more stations slated for upgrades. It also opened three new, fully accessible rail stations.

There are still many rail stations that are inaccessible. Interestingly, all South Side rail stations south of Roosevelt are accessible now, since the 2013 rehab of the Red Line South.

On the North Side, the Brown Line is fully accessible after a half-billion dollar rehab project; and so are the three Yellow Line stations. But on the Red, Blue and Purple lines north of the Loop, more than 50 percent of the rail stations are not accessible - 24 of 43 stations are not equipped with elevators.

So, there's work to be done, and many billions of dollars to be secured to do it.


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  • As noted on chitransit.org, there is a certain amount of puffery to outright inaccuracies in that press release, such as that over 700 cars are not "in use" if 40 are stuck at Skokie Shops. But I also suppose that Scooter would have said that what was accomplished was legally unnecessary.

  • In reply to jack:

    $100+ million rehabs to 70 year old subway stations just to put in an elevator is insane!
    A far better solution to the incredibly expensive rehabs of Chicago/State & Grand/State would have been to move the entire damned tunnel to Michigan Ave. where the people are.
    Yeah, I'm saying spend billions instead of millions, but the result would've been improved transportation for everyone, including the handicapped!
    Then there is the problem is that absolutely no one in this city is willing to admit that even those in the best of shape have trouble getting around for three months a year due to the lack of snow removal on sidewalks & the piling up of snow in crosswalks & at bus stops, by the city's plows.
    I await the flaming from the delusional types!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Aside from the billions and billions question, your post raises the valid point that State St. is no longer the destination it once was (certainly not for shopping), and either the long dead downtown distributor subway proposal (via Monroe with legs to Streeterville and McCormick Place) and the Clinton St, subway proposal (run the Red Line straight from North and Clybourn to Chinatown) might better serve demand.

    But speaking of delusional, go to Berkowitz's blog, where he claimed that his buddy Claypool "didn't tinker at the margins, but took on the establishment and changed the nature of park and transit services." When I asked for examples, that cheerleader had none.

  • In reply to jack:

    One other advantage to abandoning the State Street tubes from Division to just north of the river would be the CTA would then have over two miles of underground tracks to store trains in blizzards out of the snow, just like NYC fills up their express subway tracks until the blizzards are over & they can easily clear the snow from the yards without trains or having the power on.
    North Michigan is so overloaded with traffic & maybe two dozen bus routes, nothing moves during rush hours & barely moves the rest of the day.

  • On Wednesday, July 22, as mentioned by Jack...." to outright inaccuracies in that press release, such as that over 700 cars are not "in use" if 40 are stuck at Skokie Shops"......the CTA today demonstrated that it can now deliver the remaining brand new Bombardier 5000 series cars to active rails in their system and avoid the suspension of the Yellow line. Car #5675 was successfully delivered by highway trailer to the new receiving siding in the CTA's 63rd St. lower yard next to the Green line. As soon as its mate can be delivered and be coupled, the cars can be dispatched to Midway shops where they can be prepared for revenue service. With the today's successful delivering of these new cars, look for a date for conclusion of this project.

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