23.6.06

THE METROPOLITAN AND LAKE STREET JOINT LINE IS PRETTY IN PINK. The Chicago Transit Authority will obtain more paths for trains on the O'Hare and Median Strip service between the airport and Park Forest (change for the CA&E?) by routing the Cicero, er, Douglas Park branch trains over the Paulina Connector to the Lake Street line, thence around the Union Loop.

The change will break a connection people on the Douglas line used to have directly to Union Station, although it will provide one-seat service to La Salle and North Western.

"There's still a lot of people who don't realize what this is," said Michael Pitula, public transit organizer for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, which opposes the line and has been passing out "Pink Stinks" fliers on trains. "I've met a lot of riders who think the CTA is just changing the Blue Line to a new color."

Wince Collins, a 29-year-old West Side resident who uses the Blue Line's Forest Park branch to get to his North Side retail job, is excited about the change, which will increase service on his branch of the Blue Line. The extra trains should reduce his waiting time for a train to 7 or 8 minutes from 15.

Shalini Gupta, 36, worries that the changes will lengthen her trip between her job at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Union Station, where she typically boards a Metra train to Aurora after taking the 54/Cermak branch from Polk Street to Clinton Street.

We'll see if the Loop is up to the additional traffic.
Although some riders are concerned that the Pink Line will jam up the Loop system, CTA officials say computer models show there's enough capacity to run the trains on tracks now used by the Orange, Purple and Green Lines.
We'll see if the computer is up to the levermen of the Charles Tyson Yerkes and Samuel Insull eras. At one time some train buffs claimed the Lake and Wells tower at the northwest corner of the Union Loop was the busiest railroad junction in the world. That probably wasn't the case, but until the subways were built during the Depression and the Cold War, all rapid transit service other than the Metropolitan, as well as all North Shore Line trains, came onto the Loop, which operated as two tracks counterclockwise (which survives in the Ravenswood's routing to this day.)

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