Contact Contact

CTA and Pace offer alternatives during rebuild of Forest Park Branch of Blue Line

August 10, 2023

22 RTA 1020

On July 23, the CTA began Phase I of their multi-year, multi-phased project to make service along the Blue Line’s Forest Park Branch faster, safer, more reliable, and accessible for riders. This project will rebuild a total of seven rail stations to make them fully accessible and replace and upgrade track infrastructure to eliminate slow zones.

The Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line is currently the slowest portion of the CTA rail network, with slow zones amounting to over 75% of the trip. This is due to the long-outdated rail lines and signals that have forced trains to operate at slow speeds. The rebuild project is intended to speed up travel times and improve reliability to meet current ridership demands.

Shuttle buses and free rides offered during station closures

Through October, Phase I Part B of the rebuild will halt Blue Line train service between UIC-Halsted and Illinois Medical District stations; however, free shuttle buses will be provided for connections through the area. Forest Park-bound riders will be asked to exit the train at Jackson for an accessible transfer to shuttle bus services offered right outside the station.

During the construction, riders are also encouraged to hop on a local bus to reach Green or Pink line stations instead, which serve the Loop area and connect directly with Blue Line trains to O'Hare from downtown, as an alternative option to avoid shuttle bus transfers.

As an incentive, the CTA is offering free rides on select CTA and Pace bus routes operating between the Green and Pink lines on the West Side and reduced ‘L’ fares at West Side stations on Green, Pink and Blue lines. The dedicated fare-free zones in which drivers will allow customers to board for free include:

  • All north-south CTA bus routes at stops between the Green and Pink lines from Ashland (Routes #9 and #X9) on the east to Austin (Route #91) on the west.
  • North-south Pace bus routes #307, #311, #315, and #318 between the Harlem/Lake branch on the Green Line and Forest Park Brach on the Blue Line and #316 bus route between 54th/Cermak on the Pink Line and the Forest Park branch on the Blue Line.

Reduced fares are in place for riders using Ventra cards boarding the Green Line between Harlem/Lake station to Ashland station; the Pink line between 54th/Cicero station to Ashland station; and the Blue Line between Forest Park station to Illinois Medical District station.

For more information and a map of bus connections and fare zones, click here.

Improving the future of transit

The first phase of the Forest Park Branch Rebuild is a concrete step in improving our regional transit system by renovating obsolete infrastructure that does not meet the current needs of our riders. The Racine station redesign in Phase I is projected to grant universal rider accessibility by adding clearly defined pathways, an ADA-accessible ramp, and a new elevator to and from train platforms, bus stops, and other major modal transfer points. The Forest Park Branch Rebuild project supports the goals outlined in the RTA’s strategic plan Transit is the Answer to achieve a fully accessible transit system and increase service reliability and efficiency.

More funding is needed to advance future phases of the Forest Park Branch Rebuild, which in total is estimated to cost $3 billion. Recent infusions of capital funding to the RTA from the state and federal government have made a big impact, but more will be needed for the region to fully address the long-term project backlog after decades of underfunding. The region still lacks sustainable funding to improve and expand the system’s infrastructure long-term. Increased funding for transit operations is also needed to support frequent and reliable service on the newly rebuilt infrastructure.

Join our Coalition to stay updated on the plan’s progress, advocate for transit funding, and share your feedback on current projects.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

* indicates required
Type your email address here
What emails would you like to receive from the RTA
Tagged in: CTA | Pace | RTA | Capital Programming | Transit is the Answer

Related Articles

TT Transportation Tuesday recap: Improving and expanding the transit system strategically

With last year’s adoption of Transit is the Answer came 15 new evaluation metrics that comprise a strategy for evaluating and selecting capital projects. Now...

May 30, 2024
Navy Pier Bus Turnaround Electric Bus and Ferris Wheel 0321 Transit is the answer to meeting Illinois’ climate goals

As we celebrate Earth Day 2024, the RTA is announcing Transforming Transit —the agency’s commitment to lead the Chicago region’s transit system into the futu...

April 18, 2024
Red line extension Three years into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Chicago’s transit system is winning competitive grants and advancing critical projects

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed in 2021, represented a historic level of federal investment for shoring up the nation’s infrastruct...

March 12, 2024
22 RTA 0812 Why fully funding paratransit service and reduced fare programs is key to closing the transit budget gap

With transit facing a fiscal cliff in the coming years, fully funding critical programs like ADA paratransit service and free and reduced fare programs is on...

February 29, 2024
Pace capital RTA releases semi-annual project management oversight report highlighting more than 100 capital projects

Under its Project Management Oversight (PMO) program, the RTA ensures that the Service Boards—CTA, Metra, and Pace—are spending capital funds and managing th...

January 3, 2024
Microsoft Teams image 27 New fare structure unveiled in Metra’s 2024 budget

This guest blog was written by Metra CEO/Executive Director James Derwinski. Learn more about the proposed 2024 Regional Transit Operating Budget and Capital...

November 16, 2023
RTA
CTA
Metra
Pace
Copyright © 2024 Regional Transportation Authority. All Rights Reserved.