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Red Line Reopening Has Ironic Consequence For Some Commuters

By Jon Graef in News on Oct 20, 2013 6:30PM

(Photo Credit: Curtis Locke

As multiple media outlets have reported, the Far South Side Red Line stations, which have been closed for the past five months due to reconstruction, have re-opened. Depending on which news source you read, you can get a different picture on how it went. (Though we must say this: Given how Ventra rolled out, i.e., terribly, the Red Line project looks like a gift from the public relations Gods.)

Rail instructors and city bureaucrats told the Sun-Times, for instance, that the new Red Line rides were off to a smooth start. Transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman told DNAInfo that the Red Line was "almost perfect to be rebuilt," though he also had his fair share of concerns.

One ironic aspect of the Red Line's re-opening, which cost $425 million and was the first complete track replacement since 1969, when the branch opened, involves the free shuttle bus rides:

Here's the Trib:

Many commuters standing on the 95th Street platform on a brisk morning said the service is being restored just in time for winter.

Others said they already miss the free shuttle buses as well as boarding the Green Line for free at the Garfield stop.

"I saved a lot of money using the free service, and it was just as fast as the Red Line," said Anthony Taylor, 34, while boarding a north-bound Red Line train at 87th Street on his way to work.

Several riders grumbled about a service delay on the first day of service on brand-new tracks. CTA officials said signaling problems delayed trains for about 20 minutes between 43rd and 47th streets.

And now, DNAInfo

During the reconstruction effort, the CTA offered free rides to and from shuttered Far South Side Red Line stations to the Green Line Garfield "L" stop and temporary bus depots.

At the 79th Street shuttle depot this week, commuters were already mourning the loss of what’s become their new routine.

“I like how it is now — straight shot,” said James Elmore, 50, a Washington Park resident who used the shuttles to travel southward to his job as a night-shift maintenance technician for a bus company.

Of course, this is just the first day of the Red Line reopening. The commute could get better, or it could get worse. But the fact that the shutdown actually improved some CTA riders' commutes, and that the reopening made it less efficient—well, that seems like a irony truly unique to Chicago. Go figure.