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Grand stop sees double-digit growth

You could say the ridership growth at the Grand Blue Line station has been, well, grand.

This year through April, the West Town stop has seen a 12 percent jump in ridership, the highest percent increase for any CTA stop, according to data released this week by the CTA. Weekday ridership in April jumped 15.4 percent from 2,126 to 2,455 riders compared to April 2012.

John Bosca, president emeritus of the Neighors of River West community group, said nearby housing developments have helped spur this increase.

This spring, K2 Tower opened its doors at 365 N. Halsted St. The luxury apartment building, which boasts about 500 units, is the fifth and final K Station residential tower in the Fulton River District.

In the last seven years, the Left Bank, Alta and Echelon towers at K Station have opened, offering hundreds of residential units near the Grand stop.

Kingsbury Plaza apartments, at 520 N. Kingsbury St., opened a few years ago. Meanwhile, Hubbard Place apartments, a 43-story tower at 360 W. Hubbard St., is expected to begin accepting occupants in October.

"All those units have really driven the ridership at that stop," said Bosca, a former real estate agent.

It's difficult to believe the Grand station was closed much of the 1990s to save money. The stop was reopened in 1999 after a $1.3 million renovation because of population growth in the area.

Last year, the CTA put in a train tracker outside the Grand stop to display arrival times of the Blue Line, No. 56 Milwaukee, No. 8 Halsted and No. 65 Grand buses.

Still, the station could use a renovation to make it accessible for riders with disabilities, Bosca said. Though there are no set plans for that type of makeover, the Blue Line will see slow zone easing soon, Mayor Emanuel announced last month.

About 12 percent of Blue Line tracks last month were under slow zones, where trains travel 35 miles per hour or slower.

Nevertheless, Blue Line ridership continues to grow. The O'Hare branch of the Blue Line, from O'Hare to Grand, has seen a 2.5 percent ridership increase this year versus last year. CTA rail ridership this year is down 1.4 percent.

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