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redeyechicago.com

Red Line project kicks off with new signs

By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz

RedEye

12:44 PM CDT, May 20, 2013

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A good sign: The CTA learned its lesson from past projects and updated much of the signage for the southern Red Line reconstruction project, making it easier for riders to commute on Monday, the first weekday of the five-month initiative.

The CTA replaced maps in its train cars to reflect the nine South Side stations not in service during the track overhaul project, which formally launched Sunday, and the corresponding shuttle bus pickups. Train tracker and trains themselves were properly labeled with their destination.

Signs at Green Line stations also now reflect that they temporarily are Red Line stations.

In addition to the extra visuals, some train operators used their speakers to announce the project while some announcements were made at the stations.

There were some conflicting signs, though. The CTA didn't update the digital maps on the new rail cars with the aisle-facing seats (too expensive) that run on the Green and Red lines. Going Public noticed some bus shelters and stations with old maps.

GP also didn't see mention of the project on the electronic displays on the Belmont Red Line station platform or on the electronic signs on the inside of the new rail cars.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the agency will make some tweaks to signs, including adding one to the shuttle bus hub at the Garfield Green Line station, to tell riders the location of the escalator and elevator. He said the agency is calculating how much it spent on signage.

The CTA learned its lessons after some sign failures from this spring's Wells Street Bridge project and last year's decrowding initiative.

Some trains weren't properly labeled with their destinations on the first day of the Wells Street bridge project, which caused Brown Line reroutes for two weeks.

Last winter, it took weeks for the signs at some bus shelters to see updates after the December decrowding initiative, which changed the hours and/or routes of more than a dozen bus lines.

Riders who don't use the Green Line or the South Side Red Line may also have seen some modifications to their commute Monday. The CTA updated timetables of at least a dozen bus routes and every train line except for the Yellow Line.

Riders should also watch for congestion in the Red Line subway from the extra Green Line traffic. The CTA didn't report any overcrowding during the Monday morning rush hour, as it did for a few days during the Wells Street bridge project, but yesterday was only day 2 of reconstruction.

Just 152 more days to go.

Life according to BRT

On May 29, Going Public will host a panel of Chicago transit experts discussing bus rapid transit, express bus service coming to Ashland Avenue. The event will be 5:30-8 p.m., at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. Go to goodchicagobrt.eventbrite.com for more information.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Austin Green Line

For those keeping track at this station on the line between Austin and Oak Park, Green Line trains were running on a single track between the Austin and Cicero stops for part of last week. The CTA said it was performing routine maintenance work that realigns the horizontal and vertical positions of track. "With the heavy use, things shift over time," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. "We use a tamper machine (track maintenance machine) to straighten everything out to keep the track in good working order."

Next up: Addison Brown Line

tswartz@tribune.com