Monday, June 11, 2012

Transit agency says drastic closure plan is only a first draft

There may be some tweaks to the alternate service plan for the closing of the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line by May 2013. Transportation columnist Jon Hilkevitch says that the plans drawn up by CTA is inadequate and perhaps some service alternatives need to be covered with Metra!
After the $425 million Red Line track replacement project was unveiled last week, Getting Around asked the CTA and Metra how they are working together to enhance access and CTA connections to the nearby Metra Electric and Rock Island lines.

Metra has excess capacity, particularly on "the Rock," where more service could be added and CTA buses serving Western Avenue and Halsted Street would in many instances travel shorter distances to Metra stations than the miles they would log from the Red Line to the Green Line.

We also strongly advised the transit agencies and the Regional Transportation Authority that adopting a commuter-friendly integrated fare policy will be vital during the Red Line disruptions.

Metra and CTA have separate fare structures and distinct fare-collection procedures. The best path would be keeping it simple, such as allowing commuters who have Metra monthly passes to use them on CTA and Pace, and for CTA and Pace fare cards to be honored on Metra.

The RTA and the transit agencies could work among themselves to divvy up the fares collected.
It will be important to allow riders to transfer seamlessly between the CTA and Metra without being hassled about the different fares — a solution that has eluded (or been avoided by) the Chicago area's mass transit network for decades.

The RTA faces a Jan. 1 deadline to submit a fare-integration plan to the transit agencies for input, approval and implementation. The Illinois Legislature has set a 2015 deadline for the RTA system to implement common fare media, also known as a universal fare card, to be accepted by all three transit agencies.

To their credit last week, CTA officials quickly realized it will take time to get it all right, which is why they pushed for an initial meeting with Metra operations officials for this week, said CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan.
Would anyone utilize either the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines to get downtown when the Red Line is closed next May?

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