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Chicago mayor outlines service improvement plan for CTA

Now that the Illinois general assembly has dedicated operating funds for Chicago-area transit agencies, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) needs to shift its focus to improving service, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said last week.

Daley outlined several steps for the authority, such as detailing system improvement plans; better managing and further cutting spending; finding creative ways to finance improvements, such as public-private partnerships; installing GPS technology throughout the system; providing more and better delay information to riders; training employees to deal with the public; installing more security cameras on trains and at stations; and improving maintenance practices.

The authority also should build stations with improved amenities, provide retail services at key stations and install more express ticket vending machines, the mayor said.

However, CTA and other Chicago-area transit agencies still are waiting for the state to approve a capital funding bill. CTA has identified $6.3 billion in capital needs to  bring the system to a state of good repair.

For now, CTA will begin chipping away at repair needs. Next month, the authority will launch a $200 million program to reduce slow zones by more than 68 percent. Scheduled to be complete in first-quarter 2009, the project will enable trains to travel at least 65 mph on key portions of the system — a speed many trains haven’t reached since 1963, CTA said. The slow zone program will be funded with federal dollars.

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More News from 2/20/2008