By Jon Hilkevitch
11:49 AM CDT, July 17, 2012
The CTA will spend $205 million to upgrade bus and rail maintenance facilities over the next three years with the goal of fostering major improvements in transit service, officials said Tuesday.
The modernization project includes replacing bus wash racks and bus repair hoists that are so deteriorated that a bus recently fell off a lift, CTA president Forrest Claypool said at a news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the CTA Kedzie Avenue garage.
The current state of disrepair "prevents our abilities to get buses on the street," Claypool said. He promised "no more patchwork repairs."
The facility upgrades will take place next year through 2015, Claypool said.
The project will create about 500 new jobs at the CTA, Emanuel said.
The CTA announced in June that it will buy 425 new buses and rebuild more than 1,000 older buses in the next two years in a nearly half-billion-dollar modernization investment.
The goal is to get a longer life out of its younger buses and retire the oldest and least fuel-efficient vehicles, officials said. Claypool said the agency will reduce maintenance costs by millions of dollar annually.
Under the plan, the CTA will buy 325 40-foot buses and 100 60-foot articulated or accordion-style buses, using the CTA's bond funds backed by sales taxes.
The bus orders will be for a combination of diesel-electric hybrids and lower-emission all-diesel vehicles, officials said. The estimated cost of the purchases is $330 million.
As part of the fleet-improvement project, 1,030 older buses that still have about six years of service life left will be completely overhauled, at an estimated cost of $165 million, officials said.
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