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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has launched a comprehensive track repair and maintenance program aimed at speeding up travel time and improving reliability. Known as FastTracks, the $179 million program involves repairing and upgrading rail, ties and electrical power throughout the system. The effort is expected to reduce by six minutes a typical round-trip commute on the Red, Blue, Brown and Green lines.
The program will be funded through small increases in fees charged to app-based ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. The fee, proposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and approved by the City Council in November, is the first of its kind in the nation to directly support investment in public transit, CTA officials said in a press release.The ride-hailing fee is "especially important" because the state of Illinois has not passed a capital bill to support transportation and transit projects since 2009, said CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. "CTA still has a significant need for capital investment," he added. "FastTracks is a great start, but state support will be critical to continuing investment that’s critical to both maintaining and modernizing our system."The first phase of FastTracks includes track repairs in various locations on the Green Line south of 35th Street. Crews will replace worn ties to help make rides smoother. The improvements also will address numerous slow zones, where trains travel at lower than optimal speed due to track conditions.FastTracks work will be completed outside of weekday peak ridership to minimize the impact on riders.