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Area's Transit Systems Getting More Than A Spit-Shine

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 18, 2012 10:00PM

Photo Credit: Katherine Hodges

While plans to repair the CTA's Red Line have been released - and are still undergoing scrutiny - the area's mass transit systems are rolling out a few other improvements in hopes of getting things running a bit smoother. The CTA announced an upcoming job fair that will help fill around 400 part-time bus driver positions for all those buses that will be used while the Red Line is being repaired. And alongside all those new jobs and new rail lines will be a spiffed up station at 95th.

But there's more going on besides the Red Line project. The CTA had previously announced plans to purchase a slew of new buses and now will come a major upgrade to bus and rail terminals that will supplement all of the other upgrades. Reports the Sub-Times, the agency will use roughly $130 million of the $205 million project to upgrade the city's seven bus garages (including one that was built in 1903 or, in more historical terms, the year after Anton Cermak's political career began). The upgrades to the garages and equipment will make it easier to get bus repairs done and the full fleet back on the street. The remainder of the money will be used on rail shops and hopefully lots of Febreze so they can keep those fancy new train cars from smelling like pee. All told, the upgrades will create 500 jobs, per Tracy Swartz at Red Eye, (in addition to those part-time bus drivers) with work beginning early next year and continuing through 2015.

Not to be outdone by the CTA, Metra is also doing a little work to make it appear all sexy for commuters who want to maybe step out for something different. In a new round of upgrades, the commuter rail agency is installing power outlets in the lower levels of its cars a la Amtrak, making it easier for "that guy" to plug in his iPhone so he can call his buddy Sully about that rad blonde he hit on at the Cubs game the night before. Great. Also, bringing all tales of transit back to urine, the Tribune reports the Metra cars are also getting brand new toilets that actually flush unlike those very pleasant old stew chambers. There are other improvements, too—new seats, new wheelchair lifts, new air conditioning units—but, again, the new toilets will be swank. The leap forward in transit toilet technology is thanks to $115 million in federal funds; the upgrade is expected to be complete in all Metra cars by 2016 so, until then, keep holding your breath.