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CTA To Run Express Service To Airports

By Sam Bakken in News on Feb 17, 2005 11:24PM

2_2005_cta.jpgGreg Hinz reports today in Crain's that tomorrow the CTA will formally solicit business plans from bidders on how to create, pay for and operate an express service to O'Hare and Midway from downtown. Estimates say the fare will be around $15 (will people pay that?) for the 20 to 25 minute ride to O'Hare.

Two weeks ago the CTA announced that they would pay The Chicago Department of Transportation $2.3 million for an analysis of operating and planning the service from TranSystems Corporation and other consultants.

The service will use existing Blue and Orange line tracks, but will require the building of express passing rails that could cost several hundred million dollars and a transfer station in the Loop that could cost $200 million. Lots of moolah. Yes, yes, we know Mr. X. These funds would be capital, but then they have to operate the service right? Maybe covered by the $15 fare?

In his budget address yesterday Blagojevich said he wants to give CTA the funds they're asking for (and wants help from lawmakers to do it), and that closing a loophole that allows big corporations to avoid software taxes could help. The Gov's statements are at least a bit encouraging, but we have to wait and see what actually gets done. A CTA spokeswoman told Hinz that the agency is confident they'll get the money they need from the State and is operating accordingly by making plans for the future. There's no word on when the project itself would be completed, though transit sources told Hinz the CTA hopes the consultation will be finished by spring 2007.