The CTA's five-month-long shutdown of service on the Red Line between the 95h Street/Dan Ryan and Cermak/Chinatown stations got its first rush hour commute test Monday morning -- and the results, as expected, were mixed.
Service between the stations was suspended at 2 a.m. Sunday as the agency prepared to essentially gut 10.2 miles of tracks and improve stations along the 40-year-old southern branch of the "L" train.
What was the verdict among South Side Red Line riders? Largely positive, according to most reports.
DNAinfo Chicago reports most commuters they spoke with were allowing extra time to make their trip toward the Loop and one commuter was surprised to learn the CTA's shuttle buses will be free for the duration of the reconstruction. Other commuters admitted the repairs have "been a long time coming."
(Visit the CTA's website dedicated to the Red Line reconstruction for updated information or scroll down to learn more about alternate service in our survival guide.)
Still, there was some confusion. One commuter told Fox Chicago he knew the closure was coming but didn't know exactly when it was beginning. Another told NBC Chicago the alternate service was "not reliable."
Meanwhile, CTA board chairman Terry Peterson said Monday, "So far, so good. Can't complain" about the repairs, the Chicago Tribune reports.
When the work is done in October, commute times between the 95th/Dan Ryan stop and Roosevelt are expected to be 20 minutes faster. The agency deemed the service cut the better choice compared to a four year-long, weekend-shutdown-only option for the $425 million reconstruction project — the largest overhaul project in CTA history.
The CTA will close all stations and suspend service between the 95th/Dan Ryan stop and the Cermak/Chinatown stop beginning May 19. The project is expected to take five months, meaning the projected re-opening date would be around mid-October of this year. Service will shut down all at once.
During the shutdown, free 24-hour express shuttle buses and local shuttle buses will run to the Garfield (55th Street) Green Line L stop from the following Red Line stations: -Dan Ryan/95th Street -87th Street -79th Street -69th Street Entry will be free at the Green Line Garfield stop.
The CTA has launched a dedicated page for the project where passengers can find ongoing updates to the reconstruction. A class with DePaul University's College of Communication also runs the site The Red Line Project, which features frequent updates about the Red Line. In addition to the CTA's social media sites, the agency has also launched a dedicated Twitter handle for following along with the updates: @RedLineSouth
Sox fans used to taking the Red Line to 35th Street will have to rely on shuttle buses during the reconstruction, but the team is hoping to ease a little of the pain with a few ticket deals for CTA riders inconvenienced by the closure. The Sox are offering specially-priced tickets to the May 20-22 games in the Sox series against Boston. Crain's breaks down the particulars of the bus transfers: "Fans coming down the Red Line from the north will be redirected to the Green Line at the Roosevelt Road stop and can hop off at the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT stop about two blocks farther from the ballpark. From the south, shuttles will pick up fans at the 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th Red Line stops and take them to the Garfield Green Line stop, where they can transfer and ride up to 35th Street."
The CTA has a page dedicated to Google Maps' trip planning portal. Enter your locations and find the shortest route to your destination.
The CTA's new Train Tracker map will be useless to Dan Ryan branch Red Line riders, but GRID Chicago has a great roundup of other smartphone apps that will help make the city commute easier.
The CTA is doubling the number of buses operating in the areas served by the Red Line from 100 to 200 and offering a 50-cent discount on those routes during the whole project.
Ahead of the May 19 shutdown, Time Out Chicago made a great list of places to visit before the closure -- but we say, go visit despite the shutdown. Businesses and attractions like Uncle John's BBQ in Grand Crossing and the Kennedy-King College Theater in Englewood need support more than ever when the Red Line shutdown makes accessing such places trickier. Here's a reminder to support local businesses during the shutdown, so they don't shut down by the time new tracks are up.