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Purple Line Reduction Slows Evanston Commuters

No express service past Howard Street changes travel patterns for Evanston "L" riders this week. Share your gripes with fellow Patch readers.

Purple Line users met the beginning of a weeklong service reduction with a mixture of resignation and frustration. The recipe for navigating this week appears to be allowing more time for commuting, mixed with a dash of patience.

Monday was the first day the Purple Line Express was halted at Howard as the CTA replaces the 91-year-old Wells Street Bridge in downtown Chicago. Because of the construction project, Evanston riders who normally could take the Purple Line from Howard express to Belmont were now required to change at Howard and take the all stop Red Line downtown.  While service between Linden and Howard will run on a normal schedule, the lack of express service will make the commute much longer and trains are likely to be more crowded.

How is the reduction in service affecting your commute? Share your gripes in the comments section.

The CTA says under normal conditions there are approximately 77,000 trips over the Wells Street Bridge each weekday. Those numbers account for both Purple and Brown Line riders.

While the CTA had many signs on stations and had done a media blitz warning of the situation, there were still individuals caught off guard.

Nancy Traler, who works at Columbia College, was one of those people. When she just missed a CTA train at Davis Street, she decided to switch to the Metra stop a few steps to the west, even though the Oglivie Station destination gave her a 1.5 mile trek to work.

“It’s inconvenient because it is a long walk from Oglivie and it is really cold,” Traler lamented.

Along similar lines, Ricky Sutherland noted he already has a 45 minute commute to Kendall College downtown and on Monday he was going to be late to class. He was disappointed that there was not more of an effort to publicize the service reduction. “The fact that I didn’t know about it is kind of obnoxious.”

There were people who were aware of what was coming, but that didn’t make the situation easier.

Hector Duprey lives in Oak Park, but travels to Evanston every day for medical reasons. He was standing at Howard waiting for a connection to Davis--a step that he can usually bypass with the express service, as only one train is necessary.

“I normally take the Purple Line straight into Davis,” Duprey said. “I have to get up earlier and make my coffee earlier. I don’t know why they couldn’t have done this over the summer.”

Ayanna Stevenson travels all the way south to Chicago State University from her home in Evanston on a daily basis. She predicted at least an extra 15 minutes would be tacked on to her commute. “The train ride is extremely long so to add more time to it is hard.”

But for some other commuters, the feeling was more philosophical.

Tanny Terrell lives in Evanston, but goes to Ravenswood every day to work in the residential mortgage business. “It’s not a surprise, it’s an inconvenience,” she said of the week ahead. “I guess it has been so long since they have done anything to the rails so I guess it is a good thing.”

Suzanne Wiesen, is the director of finance for a small company based in the Merchandise Mart. Instead of taking the Purple Line directly to work, this week she will have to switch to the Red Line at Howard and the Brown Line at Fullerton. She notes that it will be a challenge and was especially worried about the reverse trip. “I’m more worried about coming home because that is when it is supposed to be more crowded.”

Similar reductions in service are scheduled to occur from April 26 to May 5 to complete the final phase of the project. That means commuters are going to have to adapt one more time, but the City of Chicago believes the inconvenience will be worth it at the end.

“These are critical repairs being performed with strong coordination between agencies,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “The result is that our infrastructure will be top-level for generations and our commuters will be able to expect outstanding service as they travel to and from work.”

Tea March 06, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Although I emphathize with the commuters, I can't help but fail to understand why we're such whiners. This inconvenience is only to last about a week. I could understand if this delay was to last for months, but a week comes and goes quickly. I do agree, however, with the gentleman who asked why this project wasn't started later in the year, especially when the weather would have been warmer. There is a bit of inconvenience when the weather is cold. Afterall, there was a snow storm yesterday. Nonetheless, I think we need to grin and bear the inconvenience for this short period and mentally prepare for the next stage of this project.
John Rosario March 06, 2013 at 02:41 PM
The commuter that complained of the cold 1.5 mile walk from Ogilvie station to Columbia College could have taken the door-to-door J14 bus from the NW corner of Madison & Clinton and exited at Columbia College.
Carol S. Kohn March 06, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Many years ago (call it May until August of 1965), I was employed as a "don't call us we'll call you" kind of salesperson for a department store that used to be here in the Chicago metropolitan area. To get there on a Monday to Friday (when called in for working), I'd take what was then the Evanston Bus Company #6 from west central Evanston at Fowler and Greenleaf down to Main where I'd then board the Purple LIne to make my scheduled commute easier and faster and return home the same way provided my scheduled work shift ended before 5:45 PM so I could catch the last Purple Line at 6:08 PM at the Van Buren and State Street stop. On Saturdays when I got called in to work, I'd still use the Purple Line from Main down to Howard where I'd have to transfer onto the Red Line. But if I got called in for a work shift for on Sundays or a major national holiday, I'd then have to walk over to Dodge and Greenleaf to board this bus company's #3 to get down to Main before boarding the Purple Line down to Howard and then use what is now the Red Line to get to my job and then reverse this route when coming home after work since the route #7 bus (Howard/Dodge to downtown Evanston) didn't run that often especially on Sundays and national holidays. The bad part of this job that I'd held back then was one that I had applied for was for full time work and after I'd been trained is when their HR department dropped the bombshell that we'd be on that mentioned "don't call us, we'll call you" hours!

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