Change was a hot topic of the CTA this year—and not just because a new debit-credit fare system could reduce coin transactions in the next few years.
Other changes announced this year: Longtime politico Forrest Claypool was named CTA president in April, and workers have been sprucing up train stations for the last few months. Meanwhile, some CTA shelters now have Bus Tracker displays, while security cameras have been installed in each CTA station.
Elsewhere, Red Line tracks on the South Side are being rehabbed, more Redbox kiosks are being installed at some CTA stops, and the Oakton Street Yellow Line stop is being built.
Here's what to look forward to in the upcoming months.
>> January: Negotiations between CTA management and the unions is slated to begin. The CTA is asking for $80 million in work rule changes to close a $277 million budget hole. If there is no deal, there may be service cuts and/or fare hikes next year.
>> Summer 2012: The Morgan Street "L" stop on the Green and Pink Lines should be complete. The station, located at Morgan and Lake Streets on the Near West Side, will feature elevators and covered platforms.
>> Fall 2012: The first bus rapid transit pilot will begin on Jeffery Boulevard. The project is set to feature bus-only lanes between 67th and 83rd Streets during rush hour. Meanwhile, traffic signals between 73rd Street and 84th Street will provide an early or extended green light so the bus can travel through the intersection faster.
>> Winter 2012: The CTA said the Blue Line trains with the accordion doors that are not accessible for riders with disabilities should be phased out in the next year. As the CTA replaces older cars on the Green and Pink lines with the new rail cars with the aisle-facing seats, the older cars move to the Blue Line and the cars with the accordion doors are pulled from service.
Tracking the trucks
One CTA trend that will likely grow in the new year is food trucks setting up shop near "L" stops. Getta Polpetta, a meatball truck, is the latest to take advantage of the convenience of the CTA.
Chef Anna Caterinicchia, whose truck debuts Tuesday, said she is hoping CTA riders will direct her to the best stops to sell her food. "Someone's recommendations would be a lot of fun," said Caterinicchia, 43, of the West Loop. "Might give the riders something to do."
Caterinicchia isn't alone in using the CTA. On Monday, a few food trucks parked near "L" stops including 5411 Empanadas, which serves Argentine empanadas, outside the Merchandise Mart (Brown and Purple lines) and La Adelita, which offers Mexican tortas, outside Clinton and Lake Streets (Green and Pink lines), according to their Twitter pages.
Roll credits on the holiday train
This is the final week of the CTA holiday train, which will travel Tuesday on the Red Line, Wednesday on the Purple Line and Thursday on the Yellow Line. Go to redeyechicago.com/holidaytrain to upload your holiday train snaps.
My pledge to ride every CTA bus line continues. I rode the No. 54A-North Cicero/Skokie Blvd this week and boiled my review down to a tweet.
@tracyswartz 53 min from Irving Park Blue Line to Skokie courthouse. Shorter bus fills quick. Rush hr only. See new Oakton Yellow Line stop being built.
138 routes down, 1 to go!
Next up: No. 85A-North Central.