The CTA Brown Line is the slowest it has been in nearly two years, with nearly a quarter of track under slow zone, according to a CTA report posted online this week.
Twenty-three percent of Brown Line track is under slow zone, which requires trains to travel 35 miles per hour or slower because of conditions, like weathered track or construction, according to a CTA June slow zone map. CTA trains can reach 55 miles per hour systemwide.
The last time the Brown Line had that high of a slow zone percentage was October 2012, when 23.1 percent of track was under slow zone.
The CTA said it fixed 4,263 feet of Brown Line track between May and June and placed 5,085 feet of track under slow zone, including 1,325 feet of track between the Addison and Paulina stops for maintenance and repair to the elevated structure.
In September, the CTA began a $71.2 million project to rid the Brown Line of slow zones between the Armitage and Merchandise Mart stops. The project includes replacement and repair of structural and track components.
This year, as part of Brown Line work, the CTA has run trains on single track on some weekends. The agency plans to announce more Brown Line work but the timetable is still being finalized, CTA spokewsoman Tammy Chase said.
The Brown Line was the second slowest CTA line last month, behind the Purple Line, which had 27.6 percent of track under slow zone, according to the CTA map. The Blue Line had 22 percent of track under slow zone.
The Brown Line saw about 108,000 entries on an average weekday last year, behind the Red and Blue lines, respectively. The Brown Line number includes two 10-day projects when southbound trains did not enter the Loop after Merchandise Mart because of city bridge work.
Doug Ruhl, a Brown Line rider of seven years, said it typically takes him 30 minutes to commute on the Brown Line from the Paulina stop in Lakeview to the Merchandise Mart stop in current conditions when there aren't additional delays.
He said he drives more often to his advertising job now because the Brown Line has "gotten so slow and so unpredictable." His commute used to involve a transfer to the Red Line, which he found to be faster, but now the Brown Line is his most direct route to work.
"Now that I have to ride the Brown Line all the way in, it's just painful," said Ruhl, of Lakeview.