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Comfort for Carter? On the eve of a Commuters Take Action protest calling for Dorval’s firing, CTA announces a couple of positive news items

Activists at a previous protest in September 2022 at CTA headquarters, including Commuters Take Action cofounder Fabio Göttlicher, right. Photo: John Greenfield

This article is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

This must not be a fun time to be in upper management at the CTA. The system's recent problems with unreliable service, retaining/hiring operators and mechanics, safety, and and cleanliness are well-documented. And plenty of transit advocates have been calling for President Dorval Carter Jr. to be fired. The grassroots group Commuters Take Action is even holding a Cut Carter Protest tomorrow, Friday October 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.

But one bright spot for the CTA in the past week was the reopening of all Blue Line stops last Sunday due to Phase 1 of the Forest Park Branch Rebuild being largely completely. Granted, there will be some more service disruptions in the future due to additional work, and train frequency is not supposed to return to spring 2023 levels (which were lower than pre-pandemic levels) until mid-November.

And there were two more pieces of good news from the transit agency yesterday and today. On Wednesday the CTA announced that in September it continued to see ridership growing in the post-COVID-19 era, with 25.83 million rides that month. The agency noted that there were nine days with over a million rides in September, crediting the ridership jump to students returning to school.

Dorval Carter Jr. Image: CTA

"This ridership growth is a testament to the progress we’ve made across the system over the past year – but we still have more work to do," said the embattled President Carter (as opposed to the celebrated one) in a statement "Over the next year I’d like to see that million-ride mark become the standard."

And this morning the CTA spread the good news that the $3.6B Red Line Extension on the is getting $100 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funds. The agency previously received $30 million in CMAQ dough for the project.

The RLE is also in line for $1.973 billion of federal "New Starts" cash, and will be funded by a $950 million Chicago Transit Tax Increment Financing district. So the full funding for this initiative to improve transit equity on the Far South Side is pretty much a done deal at this point.

Presumably those two news items will provide a little reassurance for the CTA president, who may look out his office window tomorrow evening and see a crowd of protesters chanting for him to be fired.

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