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Rail News: Passenger Rail

CTA posts highest annual ridership gain in two decades

In 2011, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recorded its highest ridership jump in 20 years, posting nearly 532 million train and bus boardings — a 3 percent increase compared with 2010.

Rail ridership rose 5.2 percent, with all eight lines posting gains. The biggest jumps were on the Blue Line, where ridership increased 8 percent, and on the Brown Line, where passenger counts rose 7 percent.

While higher gas prices contributed to the gains, a number of investments — particularly on the rail side — have helped make CTA a more convenient and attractive transportation option, agency officials said in a press release.

Last year, CTA launched a handful of projects and programs designed to improve the cleanliness and appearance of trains, buses and facilities. The agency also improved safety and security.

For example, CTA last summer announced a 12-month program to renew 100 rail stations. The agency also implemented a Train Tracker tool to provide passengers real-time arrival information for trains via smartphones, text messages, the website and email alerts. In addition, CTA added nearly 1,800 security cameras at 78 rail stations and plans to add 50 full-time police officers.

The agency has a number of other system-improvement projects in the works, as well. CTA plans to soon begin upgrading seven stations along the Howard branch of the Red Line. In 2013, CTA is scheduled to reconstruct tracks along the Dan Ryan Branch, build a new transfer station at Wilson Avenue and repair Blue Line slow zones.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/14/2012