As the CTA continues its plan to convert its riders to the new Ventra fare collection system, the agency is winding down on another project: the reconstruction of the southern portion of the Red Line.
Trains are expected to begin running along the Red Line between 95th Street and Roosevelt Road starting 2 a.m. Sunday. This section of the Red Line has been out of commission since May 19 as crews ripped up the tracks, laid new ones and made three stations accessible for riders with disabilities.
When details of the project were announced last year, some South Siders voiced concerns at hearings about safety of the reroutes and slow buses.
But the CTA stuck to its intricate plan of Red Line trains running on Green Line tracks, local and express shuttle buses and converting the Garfield Green Line station in Washington Park into a transfer hub.
And many riders stuck with the CTA. Some reported that the shuttle buses were faster than the Red Line. Partway into the project, the CTA said it retained 90 percent of its ridership affected by the reconstruction.
When the southern line opens next week, trains are supposed to run at least 10 minutes faster than before, thanks to the elimination of slow zones.
The transition to Ventra, on the other hand, hasn't gone as smoothly. Some riders with Chicago Cards complained to Going Public they still haven't received their Ventra cards, despite having verified their mailing addresses months ago.
The CTA said the last batch of Chicago Card transition mailings went out Oct. 3. Since, it's supposed to take seven to 10 business days for the cards to arrive, riders should receive their cards this week.
Meanwhile, the CTA said 37 percent of its rides have been paid for by Ventra, as of Sunday. There are 1.07 million Ventra accounts while 506,000 cards have been registered, according to the CTA.
The CTA last week reversed its decision to stop sales of disposable magnetic cards in rail stations and to prevent Chicago Card users from adding money to their cards in rail stations.
The agency said it changed course because of concerns with Ventra customer service. On Monday, GP waited 43 minutes for a rep after being disconnected once, an improvement from Oct. 7's six disconnections and 56-minute wait.
The CTA said it is sticking to its other deadlines: Nov. 14 is the last day to use Chicago Cards while Dec. 14 is the last day to use disposable cards.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Logan Square Blue Line
It's not trains or buses in abundance at this Blue Line station. It's bikes. There are Divvy bikes outside the station and racks and racks of bikes inside the station. The Logan Square stop looks more like a bike store than a train station. The racks look so overloaded, though, it may be time to make even more bike parking since the need is quite obviously there.
Next up: Western Brown Line