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CTA unveils plans for southern Red Line shutdown in May

By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz

RedEye

11:55 AM CST, February 21, 2013

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Red Line trains will run on Green Line tracks, and CTA riders will be able to ride for free at the Garfield Green Line station, according to the plans the CTA unveiled Thursday for its spring Red Line south shutdown--one of its biggest reconstruction projects ever.

As the CTA overhauls track, it will close nine Red Line stations from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street from May 19 through Oct. 19. The agency said it will run free shuttle buses to the Garfield Green Line stop from the 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th Street Red Line stations.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele called the shuttles "load and go." He said the CTA is testing how long it will take to ferry riders from these shuttered stations to the Garfield Green Line stop.

South of Roosevelt, the Red Line will be rerouted to elevated Green Line tracks and run to the Ashland/63rd Street Green Line station in West Englewood.

There will be regular Green Line service along Green Line tracks to the Cottage Grove station in Woodlawn though Green Line frequency will increase during off-peak hours. 

"When [the project] is complete, our customers will enjoy the benefits of a brand new railroad," said Claypool, who called the temporary shutdown an inconvenience.

During the project, riders can enter the CTA for free at the Garfield Green Line, which will see its daily ridership grow from 1,300 riders to 13,000 riders, the CTA said. Extra entrances and turnstiles are being added to the station to improve the flow of traffic.

The agency is also offering a 50-cent discount on bus rides along routes south of 63rd Street.

The CTA said it expects to lose $7 million in fare revenue for the $425 million project, which is being paid for through an Illinois Department of Transportation grant.

Commutes on the Red Line, which is suffering from slow zones, will be cut by 20 minutes when the project is complete, the CTA said.

Metra and Pace are also changing service to accommodate Red Line riders. Metra will change flag stops to regular stops at the 63rd, 75th, 79th, 87th and 95th Street stations for two inbound trains during morning rush hour and two outbound trains during evening rush hour.

In addition, the agencies are offering a combined Metra-CTA farecard.

Metra Zone B riders can pay $52 for a Metra 10-ride ticket that comes with a five-day CTA unlimited pass, which is a new type of CTA fare card. The CTA only offers three- and seven-day unlimited passes.

The combo Metra-CTA fare card will cost $64.50 for Zone C riders. Zone D riders can pay $74.50 for a combo Metra-CTA-Pace card.
   
The cards can only be used May 19 to Oct. 19 during the shutdown.

Meanwhile, Pace is creating two express bus service routes to the Roosevelt station in the South Loop. Express buses will pick riders up from the Pace Blue Island park-and-ride lot and the Harvey Transportation Center.

The CTA created a Twitter account, @redlinesouth, to answer rider questions and provide updates to the project.

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