CTA's Renew Crew better get scrubbing

  • CTA President Forrest Claypool
CTA President Forrest Claypool (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago…)
September 03, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

The CTA is cleaning up its act—just not fast enough.

A year ago this month, CTA President Forrest Claypool and Mayor Emanuel announced an initiative to spruce up 100 of the CTA's 145 stations within a year. These so-called Renew Crews have been traveling station to station to repair lighting, paint walls, update signs and scrub floors.

The CTA has completed work at 57 stations (some of them were cleaned twice) with six stations on deck for renewal, according to the CTA website.

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said the CTA is on target for the $25 million program to wrap up in late 2012.

The riders who have most benefited from this program are Blue and Yellow line passengers. About two-thirds of the Blue Line stations have been scrubbed, according to a Going Public analysis, while two out of three stations that serve the Yellow Line have been beautified. (The third station, Oakton-Skokie, opened in April.)

Meanwhile, things are not as tidy on the Brown Line, where Renew Crews have been to about 10 percent of the stations.

But the Brown Line has seen some improvements—the CTA has been replacing wood on some station platforms because the wood installed during the lengthy Brown Line station overhaul four years ago was not properly weatherproofed.

Chase said Renew Crew projects are scheduled based on priority, nature of the job and the location of the work. Scheduling factors include any other projects that may be going on at the station, effect on riders and weather.

The anniversary of the Renew Crew announcement comes at a time when equality in transit projects has been called into question. The CTA is hosting a hearing Tuesday night at its headquarters to get feedback on its proposal to ease crowding in the system by adding more train service—at the expense of more than two dozen bus routes that face partial or full route elimination.

Meanwhile, South Side Red Line riders have been complaining for months that their stations will be closed for five months for repairs next year while some North Side Red Line stations have been closed for only six weeks this summer for construction. (The CTA says the South Side stations require longer closure because the agency is overhauling the track and making all those stations accessible for riders with disabilities.)

Plus, the CTA said last week every rail line except the Brown and Blue lines would get the controversial new rail cars with the aisle-facing seats—good and bad news to some CTA riders.

Though each rail line has different needs, cleanliness should be afforded to all.

End of the line: Now what?

The CTA is hosting public meetings next week about improving the 95th Street station, the last stop on the Red Line. The meetings will be held 5-7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Harlan High School, 9652 S. Michigan Ave.; and 6-8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Palmer Park, 201 E. 111th St.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Clinton stop on the Green and Pink lines

This stop on the Near West Side is just half a block away from CTA headquarters—not that riders would know that at the station. There are no noticeable signs at the stop directing riders to headquarters, where they can buy new transit cards, submit customer service complaints and compliments and attend public hearings such as the one scheduled for Tuesday night about proposed bus cuts. Some direction from the CTA would be appreciated.

Next up: 54th/Cermak Pink Line

tswartz@tribune.com

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