WBEZ | Red Line http://www.wbez.org/tags/red-line Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Meet the CTA's super-friendly conductor http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false; show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The podcast episode available above includes two stories. The first looks at why Chicago is a transit hub for the Amish. The profile of CTA conductor Michael Powell begins at 7 minutes, 36 seconds.</em></p><p>The idea for Caroline Eichler&rsquo;s Curious City question first came to her in 2011, shortly after she had finished college and first arrived in Chicago. She didn&rsquo;t know anyone except her roommates and co-workers. &ldquo;And this is the first city I&rsquo;ve ever lived in, too,&rdquo; she says. It&rsquo;s little wonder that she felt &mdash; by her own admission &mdash; &ldquo;pretty terrified and overwhelmed.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>One of the first people Caroline came to recognize in the city was the voice of a certain chatty train conductor during her commute on the CTA&rsquo;s Red Line from Rogers Park to the Jackson stop downtown. She remembers the conductor reminding passengers to grab their umbrellas if it was raining, or he&rsquo;d jokingly advise passengers to take their children with them when they left the train. &ldquo;One time he said &lsquo;May the force be with you.&rsquo; That really cracked me up,&rdquo; she says. Since Caroline only knew a handful of people in the city, even the more reserved announcements such as &ldquo;I hope you&rsquo;re having a great day!&rdquo; were really nice, she says.</p><p>All of this interest in a comforting voice led Caroline to send us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Who is the super-friendly train conductor on the Red Line?</em></p><p>While tracking down an answer, we learned that the man behind the kind words used the daily commute to comfort himself, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;I just started talking&rsquo;</span></p><p>The conductor is Michael Powell, who began working for the CTA in 1978. Getting a job with the CTA was &ldquo;like a dream come true,&rdquo; Powell says. He&rsquo;s always loved trains, and he even had toy trains when he was growing up.</p><p>Talking over the train&rsquo;s PA system came naturally to Powell. &ldquo;I just started talking,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s spur of the moment, I really don&rsquo;t rehearse them. If it feels like I can say something silly or something half-serious, I&rsquo;ll say it.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell is not shy about sharing difficulties he had early in life. The oldest of four children, Powell says his mother &ldquo;had a rough time raising four children, not having a college degree or any education formally.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I could never make her happy,&rdquo; Powell remembers. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t like myself because I didn&rsquo;t get any compliments.&rdquo; Eventually Powell went to counseling. &ldquo;I just had to get over my fear or rejection, I think that&rsquo;s everybody&rsquo;s problem,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;When I started getting attention from the train it was like: Hey, I&rsquo;m getting the love or the attention that I didn&rsquo;t have growing up.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell&rsquo;s philosophy about relating to the passengers is straightforward. &ldquo;I just try to make everybody feel good,&rdquo; he says. Knowing people aren&rsquo;t always happy to be on their way to work, he would sometimes give a morning pep talk. &ldquo;Some people feel like they&rsquo;re down in the dumps. They&rsquo;re like &lsquo;Wow-wee, I had to come to work today.&rsquo; And I sometimes say, Yeah, you know, it would be nice to stay home today, but we have to work. What&rsquo;s for dinner tonight? Make sure you have everything with you! Just, you know, look on the bright side of life,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelPowell%20for%20WEB.jpg" title="Michael Powell, a CTA conductor for 36 years, was known by commuters for his cheerful quips. (Photo courtesy Katie Klocksin)" /></p><p>Over the years Powell has made an impact on his passengers, and he&rsquo;s been written about many times. When I first introduce him to Caroline, he presents a large binder full of his press clippings, print-outs of mostly-positive comment threads on articles featuring him, cards passengers had sent him, and comments people sent to the CTA. Caroline says she&rsquo;s impressed with how much Michael&rsquo;s comments resonated with people &mdash; enough that many people actually wrote to the CTA with positive feedback.</p><p>&ldquo;He brings out a good side of Chicago,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">End of an era</span></p><p>Fans of Powell and his conversational style as a train conductor may be disappointed to learn that he retired at the end of 2013. He still spends time with a group of friends he calls &ldquo;train club.&rdquo; They get together once a week for breakfast, and they also run model trains and watch train movies together. Michael also became a grandfather this May. He misses seeing his passengers every day, &ldquo;yet it&rsquo;s nice to be a grandfather. It&rsquo;s nice to spend more time at home,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Caroline asked Powell if he had a fantasy train he&rsquo;d like to drive. &nbsp;&ldquo;Not really,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I feel like I&rsquo;ve done enough driving in my life. Let someone else do the driving.&rdquo;</p><p>As their time together ends, Caroline tells him: &ldquo;The Red Line community of train riders will miss you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll miss them too,&rdquo; he replies. &ldquo;I had fun.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Caroline%20Re-Touch%20for%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 242px; width: 200px;" title="Caroline Eichler, who asked about the super-friendly Red Line conductor. (Photo courtesy Caroline Eichler)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Caroline Eichler</span></p><p>Caroline Eichler moved to Chicago in 2011, after graduating from Kenyon College. She quickly noticed Michael Powell&rsquo;s distinctive style on the Red Line&rsquo;s train announcements.</p><p>&ldquo;He was one of the first people in city I&rsquo;d recognize,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t even see him, I would just would know he was there from his voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Powell was a topic of conversation among her roommates as well. They would text each other when they caught Powell&rsquo;s train on their morning or evening commutes. &ldquo;I think I&rsquo;m the most excited about it, but we&rsquo;re all in on it together,&rdquo; Caroline says.</p><p>After three years, Caroline is more settled in the city; she&rsquo;s involved in several musical endeavors, including working as the Music Librarian for the <a href="http://cso.org/Institute/CivicOrchestra/Default.aspx" target="_blank">Civic Orchestra of Chicago</a>. She&rsquo;s also a violinist, and she sings with the vocal ensemble <a href="http://www.lacaccina.com/" target="_blank">La Caccina</a>.</p><p><em>A <a href="http://chirpradio.org/podcasts/person-of-interest-michael-powell" target="_blank">version of this story </a>originally aired on ChirpRadio.org. Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/meet-ctas-super-friendly-conductor-110466 CTA wants local artist Theaster Gates to create work at a Red Line station http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/cta-wants-local-artist-theaster-gates-create-work-red-line-station-108046 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.33.22 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority wants a well-known local artist to create two pieces for a Red Line station.</p><p>Theaster Gates is an award-winning artist who has a show at the city&rsquo;s Museum of Contemporary Art now. He&rsquo;s known for exploring the intersection of art and urban planning, such as his <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Ftheastergates.com%2Fsection%2F117693_Dorchester_Projects.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHJBPUMGolava_MSEMpGT1tjlVzEw">Dorchester Projects</a>.</p><p>Gates doesn&rsquo;t know what the CTA art would look like yet: He says he&rsquo;d base his design on input from residents.</p><p>Local colleges and community groups would help him with the installations, and so would high school students in an apprenticeship program.</p><p>&ldquo;I want them to see that process and understand that architect and builders and developers and planners help shape that work along with artists,&rdquo; Gates said.</p><p>The proposed artwork is part of a larger renovation to the aging CTA Red Line terminal at 95th Street. The CTA board is expected to vote on the project Monday.</p><p>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89</p></p> Sun, 14 Jul 2013 11:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/cta-wants-local-artist-theaster-gates-create-work-red-line-station-108046 Minorities, women get $82.5 million in CTA Red Line contracts http://www.wbez.org/news/minorities-women-get-825-million-cta-red-line-contracts-107754 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/red line_130618_nm.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority says the massive Red Line reconstruction on the South Side isn&rsquo;t just improving ridership for African Americans who live there &ndash; it&rsquo;s also giving them jobs.</p><p>Amid pressure to be inclusive with millions of contracting dollars at stake, CTA has awarded 32 percent of Red Line contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women &ndash; totaling $82.5 million.</p><p>African-American groups have long complained about being shut out of city contracts. They were particularly sensitive to the Red Line renovations because the stations under construction are in predominantly black neighborhoods.</p><p>The five-month CTA project is between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th/Dan Ryan. The contract portion of the renovations is $259.4 million with two prime, or main, companies. Kiewit Infrastructure Company, an international firm, is completing the track work to the tune of $215.6 million and F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen and Associates is in charge of station work for $43.8 million.</p><p>According to the CTA, Kiewit&rsquo;s minority/women contract amount is $65 million and Paschen&rsquo;s is $17.5 million. CTA officials told WBEZ they don&rsquo;t have final numbers regarding the racial breakdown of on-site workers, but they set a mandatory goal for prime contractors: 15 percent of all man-hours must go to the economically disadvantaged.</p><p>The federal program in which these subcontractors qualify is called the <a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/ofinterest/bus/mwdbe.html" target="_blank">Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)</a>. It must be 51 percent owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. The CTA is actually governed by the federal designation, not the city of Chicago. However, there is overlap with DBE companies and city-certified minority/women businesses. Chicago&rsquo;s contract program for minority and women businesses has, in the past, been marred by fraud, abuse and mismanagement. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We believe that things have gone very well thus far. The companies that signed on as subcontractors, in particular the DBEs, are working well with the prime (contractors). We&rsquo;re encouraged as we move into the completion of the first full month of construction that things will continue to go well until the Red Line reopens in October,&rdquo; said Stephen Mayberry, a CTA spokesman.</p><p>One of the African-American subcontractors that works for another subcontractor is LiveWire Electrical Systems. The Oak Forest, Ill.-based company is receiving $1 million to retrofit lighting at Red Line stations.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s difficult to get the prime contracts because bonding requirements are very high,&rdquo; said LiveWire&rsquo;s president Shon Harris. &ldquo;It makes it difficult for smaller subcontractors. Right now you just have to cut your deal with the prime and demand that you get a proper share of the work and make sure you perform,&rdquo; Harris said.</p><p>In the past, Harris said one of the biggest difficulties was getting the buy-in of prime contractors. The skepticism can often be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/race-and-construction-who-gets-jobs-101415" target="_blank">cloaked in race</a>, Harris said, pointing to trade unions that are dominated by whites.</p><p>&ldquo;To be quite honest, a lot of times they feel you don&rsquo;t have the wherewithal to do the work,&rdquo; Harris said. But Harris said this time around the CTA has stuck to its commitment of making sure African Americans are represented.</p><p>Months before the Red Line tracks were ripped up, the Chicago Urban League organized meet-and-greets for minority contractors to sit down with major construction firms. The League also compiled a database of 2,000 skilled black construction workers. City contracts and construction jobs can be a boon, especially in areas starved for employment opportunities. Last year a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib337-black-metropolitan-unemployment/" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;found that African-American unemployment in Chicago was 19 percent, the third highest in the country.</p><p>&ldquo;We created real, meaningful opportunities for a range of African American businesses. We created opportunities and access for jobs for skilled workers to get onto the project. It&rsquo;s not just token representation,&rdquo; said Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League.</p><p>Critics of city contracts have long said the process is a playground for the politically connected. Zopp said many small subcontractors don&rsquo;t have access like the bigger players in town. The League also offers a 10-week contractor development program. Six of the businesses that graduated are currently CTA subcontractors &ndash; including LiveWire.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to be involved because so far on many major building projects or construction projects run by the government, African Americans aren&rsquo;t represented,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>One example that many often cite is the recent Metra Englewood Flyover rail project. Last year U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush loudly protested the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/12299737-418/metra-to-delay-englewood-flyover-project.html" target="_blank">paltry number of minority contractors involved</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;We are sick and tired of construction contracts in our communities that bring us all the dust, all the dirt, all the delay but none of the dough,&rdquo; Rush told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em>.</p><p>The affirmative action program for city contracts started under Mayor Harold Washington&rsquo;s administration in 1985. In 2010, the city inspector released a report critical of the program. The inspector&rsquo;s investigation uncovered the use of front companies &ndash; businesses pretending to be minority firms to secure city contracts.</p><p>Bob Israel, president of Save Our Community Coalition, is on alert for front companies cashing in on the Red Line renovation.</p><p>&ldquo;It ain&rsquo;t the CTA &ndash; it&rsquo;s the contractors I have my eyes on. Just because they&rsquo;re certified doesn&rsquo;t mean they&rsquo;re legit,&rdquo; Israel said.</p><p>His coalition is an advocate for African-American contractors and tradesmen and so far, he said, one Red Line subcontractor has caught his eye &ndash; Sandi Llano, a white female, received $250,000 to be a community liaison and outreach consultant.</p><p>&ldquo;A Caucasian female?&rdquo; Israel asked incredulously, referring to the fact that mostly black riders are affected by the shutdown along the southern portion of the Red Line. The CTA said it cannot dictate which firms the prime contractors hire.</p><p>Last fall, Israel <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/black-chicagoans-rally-demand-construction-jobs-102776" target="_blank">marched with Ed Gardner</a> and 1,000 others at 92nd and Western in the suburb of Evergreen Park to protest a lack of black construction jobs where a shopping center was being built. Gardner, a millionaire and founder of the iconic Soft Sheen hair care company, said he has met with CTA officials and wants proof of black workers.</p><p>&ldquo;At least let us see what they&rsquo;re doing and when they&rsquo;re doing it,&rdquo; Gardner said. &ldquo;We should have a chance to see a result of their works. I don&rsquo;t know when they [blacks] are supposed to earn these dollars.&rdquo;</p><p>Zopp said the Chicago Urban League efforts show that minority hiring and contracting is feasible &ndash; even when it&rsquo;s not a government project like the Red Line. And though they&rsquo;re not always tied to city rules, she wants private developers to take note.</p><p>&ldquo;If the private developers are truly committed to diversity, this shows that it&rsquo;s doable. Many of those private developers have public support and tax incentives,&rdquo; Zopp said. &ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve proven here is there&rsquo;s no excuse. If private developers won&rsquo;t support the community, we shouldn&rsquo;t support their businesses.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><h2><strong>Kiewit Construction Dan Ryan South Team</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dEc1Y28wclhzOWJIZTM2UnV2alFDWlE&transpose=0&headers=0&range=A2%3AE30&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","animation":{"duration":500},"annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":600,"height":512},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":2},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":3},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":4}]},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>F.H. Paschen Construction Dan Ryan South Construction Team</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dEc1Y28wclhzOWJIZTM2UnV2alFDWlE&transpose=0&headers=0&range=A34%3AE48&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":600,"height":320},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":2},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":3},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":4}]},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p><em>Source: Chicago Transit Authority</em></p><p>Key:&nbsp;</p><ul><li>AA - African American</li><li>H - Hispanic</li><li>AI - American Indian</li><li>C - Caucasian</li><li>AP - Asian/Pacific Islander</li></ul></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/minorities-women-get-825-million-cta-red-line-contracts-107754 Loss of Red Line service brings changes to Chinatown http://www.wbez.org/news/loss-red-line-service-brings-changes-chinatown-107365 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chinatown.jpg" title="Near the CTA Red Line stop at Cermak-Chinatown. Workers were out on the tracks Friday getting started on a massive reconstruction project. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F93713993&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Some business owners are worried about a slow summer near the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop, but expanded water taxi service may pick up some of the slack. Nine south side stations are closed until October for reconstruction.</p><p>Just down the street from the Chinatown Red Line, Michelle Zhang was ringing up a steady stream of newspapers and lottery tickets in her gift shop. But she said she&rsquo;s concerned about the Red Line.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s no good for the business,&rdquo; she said. The street was hopping with locals getting groceries, tea and pastries -- it&rsquo;s tourist shoppers that may be more of a concern. In another gift shop, Yat Wong agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it will affect me a lot since the station is closed for more than 5 months, I guess, but nothing I can do,&rdquo; he said. And he says his daughter&rsquo;s been rerouted to school, as have other kids he knows. &ldquo;Almost affect everyone in Chinatown, I guess. Every family.&rdquo;</p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F94308827"></iframe><p>Starting Tuesday, commuters looking for an alternate to the Red Line have a new way to travel between Chinatown and downtown: a water taxi. The Chinatown taxi has operated on weekends since 2009, and this year they&rsquo;ve added a new black and yellow boat to the fleet that will be used to provide weekday service.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a great alternative if for no reason other than it&rsquo;s more fun and scenic,&rdquo; said Andrew Sargis, Chief of Operations of the Chicago Water Taxi, which is a private subsidiary of Wendella Sightseeing.</p><p>A boat will depart from Ping Tom Memorial Park every twenty minutes from 10am to 9pm, and tickets are $4 one way. The ride to near Union Station is about 12 to 15 minutes, and a transfer can get you further north or east along the Chicago River.</p><p>But total travel time depends on traffic.</p><p>&ldquo;We can get barge traffic, we can get kayakers, we can get other commercial boat traffic,&rdquo; said Sargis, adding that on the weekends, sailboats can also be trouble.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left: -36pt;margin-right: -36pt;"><em><b id="docs-internal-guid-23161088-d872-17fe-5060-74fbae141146" style="font-weight:normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lew</span></b>is Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><br /></p> Sat, 25 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/loss-red-line-service-brings-changes-chinatown-107365 Major CTA rebuilding will affect Chicago commute http://www.wbez.org/news/major-cta-rebuilding-will-affect-chicago-commute-107267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_JeraSue_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Transit officials say the first rush hour of Chicago Transit Authority&#39;s Red Line construction project is going smoothly.</p><p>Monday is the first weekday of the $425 million project to rebuild the line on the city&#39;s South Side and that means no trains are running along the 10.2-mile stretch between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street.</p><p>CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase says there&#39;s plenty of room on the free shuttle buses running the route. She says there have been no major disruptions.</p><p>Some Red Line service will be running in some areas, but it will be rerouted onto Green Line tracks. White Sox fans can use Metra or the Green Line, which has a station a few blocks from U.S. Cellular Field.</p><p><em>The CTA encourages customers to follow <a href="http://twitter.com/RedLineSouth" target="_blank">@RedLineSouth</a> on Twitter for updates.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 09:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/major-cta-rebuilding-will-affect-chicago-commute-107267 Morning Shift: TIFs and Red Line reconstruction http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-20/morning-shift-tifs-and-red-line-reconstruction-107264 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_JeraSue.jpg" alt="" /><p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-tif-n-ride-on-the-cta.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-tif-n-ride-on-the-cta" target="_blank">View the story "The Morning Shift: TIFs and South Siders lose their rides on the CTA" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 07:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-20/morning-shift-tifs-and-red-line-reconstruction-107264 South Red Line closures just around the corner http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2721141923_d30f49ae31_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The South branch of the Red Line closes Sunday for five months while it undergoes renovation. Chicago Transit Authority officials say nine stops, also known as the Dan Ryan branch, are in desperate need of repair. The CTA will provide a few backup solutions for the more than 80,000 people who ride each weekday. Other groups like PACE, Metra - even the White Sox franchise - are also lending a hand.</p><p dir="ltr">Starting Sunday, service will be shut down between 95th/Dan Ryan and Cermak-Chinatown. According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, construction crews will rip everything up -- like ties, rails and ballasts - and rebuild the tracks and all but one of the train stations. Steele says the 95th/Dan Ryan stop is scheduled to receive a separate facelift beginning in the first half of 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Remember that the Red Line South opened in September of 1969, just two months after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon,&rdquo; Steele said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s seen, literally, millions of train trips in that time, and has really served the CTA well.</p><p dir="ltr">Steele says the Red Line has been patched and fixed over the years, but it&rsquo;s to the point where the only way to ensure effective operation of the line is to completely rebuild it.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s going to take some time - five months, to be exact. Steele says they looked at other options, like closing down only on the weekends, for example, but he says the five-month plan was the most efficient and cost-effective way to complete the project. Steele says once completed, the trackwork will provide faster and more reliable service.</p><p dir="ltr">To ease riders&rsquo; headaches, the CTA will provide a number of backup options. The CTA website has been upgraded with a <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/news_initiatives/projects/redsouth/tripplanner.aspx">trip planner</a> that calculates rerouted directions for commuters. CTA is also offering express buses from four of the closed Red Line stations (95th/Dan Ryan, 87th, 79th and 69th) that will go directly to the Green Line Garfield station. Steele said Green Line service and local bus routes will also provide additional service during peak times.</p><p dir="ltr">For riders who think Metra or Pace might be the best option, the three transit agencies are offering a joint fare pass. Riders can buy the cards at stores like CVS or Walgreens. They provide five days of unlimited rides on CTA/Pace and 10 rides on the Metra. The cost of the pass depends on which Metra zone the rider travels to and from.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Metra spokesman Michael Gillis, the agency isn&rsquo;t expecting an influx of riders during the Red Line closures, but says there will certainly be a &ldquo;settling-in period&rdquo; as riders figure out which new route works best.</p><p dir="ltr">Even the <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/cws/ticketing/groups/gsg/gsg.jsp?loc=soxcta">White Sox</a> are chipping in to help potentially disgruntled commuters, as the Sox/35th stop is one of the stops getting a makeover. The team is offering fans discounts on some tickets to the May 20th, 21st and 22nd games against the Boston Red Sox.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 ‘L’ train rides were up in 2012, but some stations’ traffic drops http://www.wbez.org/news/%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99-train-rides-were-2012-some-stations%E2%80%99-traffic-drops-105229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chart_2.png" alt="" /><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AsCcVlINIfzAdC1sVFQ0T0I3X09hTGRlQjN2dWpSZFE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=B1%3AH2&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"","minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"series":{"0":{"color":"#ff9900"},"1":{"color":"#0000ff"},"2":{"color":"#9900ff"},"3":{"color":"#f4cccc"},"4":{"color":"#b45f06"},"5":{"color":"#ff0000"},"6":{"color":"#38761d"}},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Percentage increase by rail lines","animation":{"duration":0},"backgroundColor":{"fill":"#efefef"},"domainAxis":{"direction":1},"legend":"in","theme":"maximized","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"","minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"width":524,"height":343},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[{"calc":"emptyString","type":"string","sourceColumn":0},0,1,2,3,4,5,6]},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority announced Wednesday that the number of rides on its &lsquo;L&rsquo; trains hit a fifty-year high in 2012, going up 4.2 percent from 2011. Across the bus and train system, the CTA saw a modest 2.4 percent increase for a total of 545.6 million rides.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77258937" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Every train line increased its ridership, with the Yellow Line spiking 18 percent due to a new station opening. The Orange, Pink, and Blue Lines also went up. The Red Line, which experienced multiple station closures and construction projects throughout the year, only had 1.8 percent more riders in 2012 than 2011.</p><p>But some rail lines&rsquo; stations haven&rsquo;t fared so well. At the<a href="#redline"> 95th Street stop on the Red Line</a>, 37,000 less people came through in 2012 compared to the previous year. It&rsquo;s a marginal drop&nbsp; &mdash; the station sees nearly 4 million visitors per year &mdash; but it&rsquo;s notable, given that almost all stations in the CTA system increased rides last year. Some saw gains in traffic as high as 7 percent between 2011 and 2012. But all the Red Line stations from Garfield south lost riders.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the worst station in the city,&rdquo; said Wayne Johnson, who commutes from the city&rsquo;s Roseland neighborhood to commutes to Evanston. &ldquo;The Purple Line station, you go on Davis Street downtown. It&rsquo;s clean. Always somebody sweeping and cleaning up ... Out here, it&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Johnson says racism is behind what he considers to be mediocre service on the South Side. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Other people asked by WBEZ suggested that violence is behind the 95th street station&rsquo;s drop in popularity. Another reason: the Red Line&rsquo;s slow pace. Currently the line&rsquo;s south branch is marked by a series of <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/rail_slow_zone_maps/slzm_01_15_13.pdf">slow zones</a> caused by aging tracks.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s ridiculously slow and we&rsquo;re very well aware of that,&rdquo; said a CTA spokesperson.</p><p>The agency plans to close all nine South Side Red Line stops from Cermak to 95th for five months, beginning in May. CTA says it will remodel stations and eliminate slow zones by rebuilding the tracks.</p><p><em>Charts by Elliott Ramos.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em><a name="redline"></a></p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AsCcVlINIfzAdGNlU0VYejJQRGhpWmdxcWZINTZJZ2c&transpose=1&headers=1&range=A1%3AG3&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"title":"Number of riders","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null}],"title":"Red Line South Branch Ridership 2011 vs. 2012","booleanRole":"certainty","animation":{"duration":500},"backgroundColor":{"fill":"#efefef"},"legend":"in","theme":"maximized","hAxis":{"title":"Station Name","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"width":491,"height":284},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p> Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99-train-rides-were-2012-some-stations%E2%80%99-traffic-drops-105229 Nostalgia trip: 1970s video shows one L of a ride down the Dan Ryan http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-01/nostalgia-trip-1970s-video-shows-one-l-ride-down-dan-ryan-104812 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 10.25.37 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/NmHmRBPI1rs" width="420"></iframe></p><p>If you are of a certain age--and, boy, I am--the early 1970s video of a Dan Ryan Line el train making a 95th Street-to-downtown run is a real trip...back in time.</p><p>Completed in 1969, the line was only a few years old when this video was made; the sleeker new trains glided down the median of the still new Dan Ryan Expressway, stopping at modernist stations designed by Myron Goldsmith of Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill. Back then, the old Lake/Dan Ryan Line went north, passed through downtown, connected to older Lake Street el and traveled west to Oak Park. Today, the Ryan trains compose the south end of the Red Line, while the firner west leg is now part of the Green Line.</p><p>As the train travels north in the video, some long-gone landmarks and structures can be seen, such as the lip-shaped Magikist carpet cleaners sign kissing the sky near 85th. As the train pulls into the 47th Street station at 6:45, the now-demolished massive Robert Taylor Homes are visible on the right. At 35th, the camera pans to the left and gets a good view of old Comiskey Park.</p><p>Placing a high capacity rail line in an expressway median was revolutionary in the 1950s and 1960s. It lessened the cost of land clearance for mass transit and created a train system that didn&#39;t darken roadways, as do the city&#39;s overhead lines. It was efficient people-moving, but bad urban planning. The platforms are isolated, surrounded by expressway concrete and speeding cars rather than vibrant street life. The station entrances sit in the middle of blocks-wide deadzones for pedestrians, due to the width of the expressway. A planned redo of the 95th Street terminal could rectify some issues at the station--retail and food vendors could be added. That&#39;s just one spot along the line. But it&#39;s better than none.</p><p>The video above comes courtesy of YouTube, posted by a rail fan who goes by the name &quot;msibnsf,&quot; who has loads of other vintage and contemporary <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/msibnsf?feature=watch">CTA and train footage.</a></p></p> Thu, 10 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-01/nostalgia-trip-1970s-video-shows-one-l-ride-down-dan-ryan-104812 CTA awards contract for Red Line South reconstruction http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-awards-contract-red-line-south-reconstruction-103850 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3410123981_56a6294935_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Nov. 15, 9:40 a.m.</em></p><p>The Chicago Transit Board awarded the contract for its biggest reconstruction project on Wednesday.</p><p>F. H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen and Associates, LLC will rebuild the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street. With an estimated budget of $425 million, plans include improving stations, tracks and ties, drainage systems and more.</p><p>&ldquo;We are looking forward to providing our south Red Line customers with improved stations that are cleaner, brighter and better than they have been in years,&rdquo; Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool said in a press release. &ldquo;From cosmetic improvements and repairs to more substantial upgrades, like three new elevators at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th street stations, we are committed to giving our customers a new south Red Line experience.&rdquo;</p><p>More than $1 billion in federal, state and local funds are being invested in these improvements, according to the CTA.<br /><br />Paschen&mdash;the general contracting firm awarded the CTA contract&mdash;not only put in the lowest bid, it participates in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. Forty percent of its subcontractors qualify as a disadvantaged business, a goal CTA wanted to meet.<br /><br />A little more than $17.5 million&mdash;or about 40 percent&mdash;of the total contract goes to the subcontractors for their work, according to the CTA&rsquo;s press release. Furthermore, of that 40 percent, 92.2 percent of the money will go to African-American firms, 7.8 percent to Hispanic firms and 6 percent to women-owned firms.</p><p>The CTA also announced its streamlined system for bus parts and plan to rehab 60 percent of its bus fleet.</p><p><em>Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of the CTA contract that goes to the subcontractors.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 15:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-awards-contract-red-line-south-reconstruction-103850