South Side riders support Red Line extension

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Commuters on the South Side support a current proposal by the Chicago Transit Authority to extend the Red Line train stop at 95th Street further south, in part because it would enable them easier access to the Red Line and a faster commute to work.

“It takes too long to get to the train terminal at 95th Street if you live way south like I do. I have been late plenty of times and even once was suspended as a result of being tardy to work too much,” said Jerome Davis, 39. Davis lives on 118th and Peoria Avenue so he has to take one bus to get to the Red Line train station at 95th and State Street.

CTA officials contend the Red Line needs to be extended because there is significant bus and passenger congestion at the 95th Street Red Line stop, which it expects to grow as population and employment grows on the South Side; and passengers, especially those living far south, experience a 20 percent longer commute to the Red Line terminal at 95th Street than riders from other parts of the city. Davis estimates his commute time from his home to the Red Line is 30 minutes on a good day and nearly an hour on bad days.

“And this is during rush hour when service is suppose to be faster,” he added. One possible extension route the CTA is considering is to stretch the Red Line to 130th and Stony Island Avenue. Other possible corridors for the Red Line extension include Michigan Avenue, King Drive, Wentworth Avenue, and along the Bishop Ford Expressway-where tracks already exist-to 130th Street. The Red Line is the only way Jennifer Lewis, 40, can get to her job downtown from her home in Roseland.

“I live by 109th Street and Wentworth but must walk two blocks to 111th Street and Wentworth to catch the bus to Michigan Avenue and then take the Michigan bus to the Red Line,” she said. “If the Red Line was extended and had stops near my home I would not have to take two buses.”

As part of the process for expanding any train routes the CTA must first conduct an Alternatives Analysis Study before it can receive federal funds for the project, said Katelyn Thrall, a spokeswoman for the CTA. Among the things this study does is get feed back from the community and evaluate possible expansion routes.

The Federal Transit Administration gave CTA $588,000 to conduct the study but “no other federal money has been appropriated,” said Ketrina Nelson, a spokeswoman for the FTA. No date has been set yet for when construction would begin and end. So far this year, from January to April, some 5.3 million riders boarded the Red Line between Cermak- Chinatown and 95th Street, said Thrall.

Aheavily used rail line, the Red Line, which runs from 95th Street on the South Side to Howard Avenue on the North Side, has served over 20.7 million riders so far this year. In 2007, total ridership was nearly 64 million.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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