This has been a year of unusual reroutes on the CTA rapid transit system. A few months ago, we reported on Brown Line trains running in the State Street subway while the Wells Street bridge was rebuilt. Now, it’s the subway’s turn to be diverted onto the “L”.
For five months (starting last May), the CTA Dan Ryan portion of the Red Line is being rerouted onto the South Side “L”, while the expressway median trackage is being completely rebuilt. Your roving reporter took a trip out to 95th to check out how things are progressing.
Riders (CTA calls them “customers” nowadays, but I like the old terminology) seem to be taking things in stride, and the reroute and shuttle bus operation appears to be running smoothly. Thankfully, the disaster some expected has not come to pass.
The CTA Howard and Dan Ryan lines were joined in 1993 when a new mile-long subway connection opened. Previously, Howard trains exited the subway south of Roosevelt and proceeded up a ramp to rejoin the South Side “L”.
The South Side “L” runs parallel to most of the Dan Ryan line, and only a few blocks away. However, the Ryan line was not meant to replace the Englewood and Jackson Park lines, which were among the system’s busiest prior to 1969. Opening the new line did siphon off most of this traffic.
When the decision was made that the Ryan line needed to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, CTA thankfully could make use of this underutilized capacity on the South Side “L”. So, until October, Red Line and Green Line trains are sharing the “L”, resulting in some hot rails indeed. Subway trains are once again going up and down the ramp to the “L”, 20 years after they last did so.
Our trip began at Roosevelt Road, with photo stops at the nearby subway portal and Indiana Avenue. We got off at Garfield and took one of the free express shuttle buses to 95th, then reversed course.
Compliments go out to the CTA for the smoothness and efficiency of this operation. Interestingly, in order to make up for the inconvenience of the shuttle operation, CTA is allowing free rides for anyone boarding at Garfield, regular riders and diverted ones alike.
There were reports early on that regular Green Line riders were letting Red Line trains pass, even though they go to many of the same places, while others were riding slower local buses like the #29 instead of the quicker shuttles. But I am sure that as the public got used to the situation, these issues were minimized.
More and more service on the Red Line is being handled by the new 5000s, while we happily note that a pair of retired 2200s has just arrived at the Illinois Railway Museum. It will seem a bit odd to see them fitted with trolley poles, but we look forward to seeing them run in next year’s Trolley Pageant there. Meanwhile, there are still some 2200s in service on the Blue Line. Out with the old and in with the new.
Note: All photos were taken by the author on July 12, 2013.