Transit drill: Some CTA riders need to find backup plan

  • The closed Wells Street bridge at Mart Plaza Drive, is seen on Feb. 11. Wells Street bridge reconstruction will cause two nine-day interruptions to CTA Purple and Brown Lines in March and April. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)
The closed Wells Street bridge at Mart Plaza Drive, is seen on Feb. 11. Wells…
February 25, 2013|By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz | RedEye

Time to get a new line, CTA. The agency has dusted off a version of its infamous "leave early, leave late, alternate" motto for the Wells Street bridge closure project, which begins Friday night and is slated to end before morning rush hour March 11.

For more than nine days, riders will be subjected to Brown and Purple Line and Loop reroutes as the Chicago Department of Transportation overhauls the Wells Street bridge and the CTA replaces tracks in the curves at Hubbard and Kinzie streets.

Red Line and bus riders likely will see more crowds from the Brown and Purple lines. A similar nine-day closure is set for late April into early May.

In a tweet from its @CTA account Monday, the CTA asked North Side riders to "try to shift workday next [week] to avoid peak" hours. The tweet directed riders to the agency's page for Wells Street project, transitchicago.com/wellsbridge, where the CTA advises riders to "Leave early or late. Use alternatives."

Sound familiar? The agency used a similar slow-gan six years ago during the Brown Line reconstruction project.

For some riders, it may be easy to shift their schedule next week to work around the construction. But others may find themselves coming up with new ways to tell their bosses why they are late.

Nearly 27 percent of Chicago workers at least 16 years old take public transit to work, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007-2011 American Community Survey.

The survey also found that of 20 percent of employed Chicagoans who are not in the Armed Forces have a service occupation in fields such as retail or restaurants. Shift work is common in the service industry.

To be safe next week, riders who need to make it to work at a certain time should just leave early. Don't leave late. Definitely alternate.

Test a different route to work this week to see if it will work next week. Use a transit app to figure out other options.

Study the suggestions the CTA has posted on its Wells Street project page.

Just don't wait until Monday morning to devise a plan—by then you could be too late.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Thorndale Red Line

What a difference six weeks make. Last summer, the CTA shuttered the Thorndale stop in Edgewater as part of its project to rehab seven North Side Red Line stations. The Thorndale stop stationhouse got new windows, doors and lights while the station's viaduct received a better waterproofing and draining system and new paint. And although the station is much improved, the stop has been attracting fewer riders since it reopened in late September. Ridership was down in October, November and December compared to the previous year. The CTA's next step should be to improve the stop's ridership.

Next up: Illinois Medical District Blue Line

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