More security required for CTA park-and-ride lots

Transit officials seek improvements with new contract

The Chicago Transit Authority will require more frequent security patrols at its parking facilities in a move to help commuters feel safer, as well as demand quicker turnarounds to fix burned-out lighting and make upgrades, under a contract that is open for re-bidding, transit officials say.

The CTA's current five-year contract with Chicago-based Standard Parking expires at the end of the year. Standard Parking operates more than 5,600 parking spaces at 14 CTA park-and-ride lots and garages and 43 small lots underneath "L" tracks.

The parking revenue amounts to more than $5 million a year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, a professional services consultant hired by the CTA to manage the transit agency's real estate portfolio. Of that total, the CTA received about $2.1 million last year and a total of $7.3 million over the previous four years, a transit agency spokeswoman said.

It's a small amount compared with the $574 million in fare box revenue the CTA collected in 2013, but the transit agency is attempting to generate more money from collateral sources to help stave off the next fare increase, officials have said. The CTA has paid Jones Lang LaSalle $5.8 million since 2008 to help increase revenue from non-fare box sources.

The CTA is seeking either a five-year or 10-year parking contract starting in 2015, officials said. During the course of the current contract, Standard Parking bought Central Parking System, which operated most of the CTA park-and-ride facilities.

The next parking contract will significantly increase the required level of security patrols that the parking operator will provide, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. She said Standard Parking is free to compete against other companies in the bidding.

"We're asking for daily patrols by a uniformed security guard, which we did not previously state as a requirement, although the (current) vendor provides daily patrols with its own staff, not uniformed security guards," Chase said.

The CTA would not elaborate on the details of "daily patrols." The daily staff patrols are a reflection of the current contract, Chase said. The next contract will require more frequent patrols in response to any reports of crimes or related problems, Chase said.

Crime statistics maintained by the CTA and Chicago Police Department do not break down incidents at CTA public parking facilities, but commuters walking between their cars and rail stations, especially during non-rush periods when fewer people are around, have expressed concerns about personal security and vandalism to vehicles.

The next parking contract also will require the operator to invest in parking facility improvements at the request of the CTA and then recover the funds using parking revenue, officials said.

"This gives us more flexibility in making repairs or improvements to the park-and-rides," Chase said.

She said one upgrade the CTA will require under the next contract involves replacing the pay-and-display ticket system at the Rosemont park-and-ride lot on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line with a pay-upon-exit system, similar to the Cumberland commuter parking garage, which, with more than 1,600 spaces, is the largest park-and-ride facility in the CTA system. Rosemont, with almost 800 spaces, ranks second.

The CTA controls parking rates at its facilities, and no rate changes are planned as part of the new contract, Chase said. The last parking price adjustment was in April 2012, when rates were increased at four park-and-ride facilities and decreased at four others, she said.

Information about CTA park-and-ride facilities, including rates, can be found at

In addition to the more than 5,600 parking spaces under CTA control, about 770 additional spaces are operated by the village of Wilmette at the Linden Purple Line station and by Skokie at the Yellow Line/Skokie Swift station, under intergovernmental agreements with the CTA. The Howard Red Line station parking garage, with almost 600 spaces, is privately owned and operated. Forest Park also operates a municipal-owned lot next to a CTA-owned lot.

Meanwhile, the CTA's beverage vending contract expires this summer, and Jones Lang LaSalle is soliciting bids.

Coca-Cola is the current concessionaire, operating more than 275 vending machines that have generated more than $1 million for the CTA over the first four years of a five-year contract, officials said. The CTA is seeking either a three-year or six-year contract.

Leasing empty retail concessions spaces at rail stations represents another area of revenue generation that the CTA is working to enhance.

The CTA has 92 rentable retail spaces at 145 rail stations. Currently, 72 of those spaces are occupied, according to the transit agency. The CTA has received a total of $8.24 million in concession space revenue since 2008, the agency said.

The addition of 38 new concessions leases since 2011 has led to the presence of some local businesses, and at least one of them isn't a doughnut shop.

The retail tenants include Lunderman Produce at the Green Line Ashland/63rd Street terminal. A Starbucks operates at the Red Line North/Clybourn stop. A Glazed and Infused gourmet doughnuts shop is underneath the Brown Line Armitage station and DAT Donut is at the Red Line 95th Street/Dan Ryan rail terminal.

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