The CTA is “bleeding riders because of rail slow zones,” President Forrest Claypool lamented in a CTA Tattler interview. And finding the money to repair them is “one of the most important jobs I have,” he added.
“What we’re doing is throwing good money after bad … because of the patchwork nature” of slow zone repairs, Claypool acknowledged in our talk in early July. He also noted finding the resources to make long-needed repairs to the rail system is a huge challenge. “The Red Line alone needs $5 billion to bring it into a state of good repair. The first priority is the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line. That’s a $400 million project.
“I have not identified a source yet to fund project,” Claypool added, “but I work every single day to find those dollars. I’m working feverishly to find those dollars because we don’t have a choice. Of course it affect our riders on North Side too because we can’t send as many trains going north as we would like.”
Claypool has one small victory recently in finding $10 million in state funds for slow zone repairs on the Purple Line. The CTA will use the money to fix three crumbling viaducts.
Turning to passenger communication, Claypool said, “I couldn’t agree with you more” about the problems I’ve recounted here, and revealed he has called asked for a comprehensive review of CTA communication systems.
“We need to know how good are they,” he said “I want to test them so I know there is clear, direct communication from central command center. In the rail cars themselves I’ve asked to find out the right level of quality for passenger to hear – it’s got to be loud and clear.
I noted the key complaint about riders getting to train stations during service outages, and not getting any information from CTA personnel. Claypool promised more training all around.
“Operations personnel have to be trained on what information to tell riders and what is happening if there truly is something that passengers need to know. I understand the frustration of not knowing what’s going on and what’s going to happen next.”