Red Line pain for the best
06/06/2012 10:00 PM
The CTA is going to tear up the Red Line from the Cermak/Chinatown stop all the way south to 95th Street next year, a decision that hit South Side commuters in the gut earlier this week.
The Red Line is one of the busiest stretches of track in the entire CTA system, and its ridership depends on it more than almost any other in the city. It connects some of the most impoverished communities in the city with jobs downtown. It’s a vastly important artery.
And it’s in horrible shape.
The options for fixing it were both bad: Cause weekend delays on the line for the next four years, or shut it down for five months. The city chose to rip off the Band-Aid, get it all done at once and save money in the process. That’ll result in $75 million in savings — money they say’s being put into making stations shinier and more handicap-accessible.
We think they made the right choice.
Yes, it’s tough to swallow. It’ll hurt the communities that depend on the Red Line and cause interminable commute times. But it’ll be over relatively quickly, and folks will still have transportation options. They’ll just revolve around buses, which aren’t nearly as fast or convenient.
In Chicago Journal’s turf, Chinatown will suffer. With no train station anywhere near Cermak, it’s likely that downtown’s flow of tourists will slow down significantly. Buses aren’t out-of-towners’ favorite mode of transit, after all.
We hope that the CTA means it when they say they’ll increase bus service to the areas affected by the shutdown, though it remains to be seen what that actually will mean.
We are concerned, though, about how the construction of the Cermak Station on the Green Line will affect this process. Cermak’s construction was scheduled to start in 2013 around the same time Red Line trains will all be rerouted to the Green’s South Side tracks. Track construction will be necessary for that project, and we haven’t gotten a good answer yet about how those two projects will coexist.
File this one under “wait and see.” It’ll be a mess, but someday we’ll look back on it and laugh as the Red Line outraces traffic on the Dan Ryan.