The wheels are in motion for the Chicago Transit Authority’s modernization of the Red and Purple lines, including the Evanston stretch between Howard and Linden stations.

A screenshot from the CTA presentation on March 16. Credit: Screenshot by Manan Bhavnani

“A lot has changed with the pandemic but we know that ridership is recovering and Red and Purple lines will continue to be critical infrastructure for Chicago and the Northern suburbs,” Sonali Tandon, CTA senior manager of strategic planning, said at a virtual meeting about the Next Phases Planning Study on Thursday, March 16.

After a sharp pandemic drop-off, ridership recovered last year, with 5.57 million commuters using the train in October 2022.

At an estimated $2.2 billion, the Red and Purple line modernization plan is said to be the agency’s largest capital improvement project ever.

Construction work on the project is underway, with phase one completion set for 2025.

The biggest issue is aging stations, tracks and viaducts.

“Infrastructure on these lines is a century old and in many cases, requires complete reconstruction to bring it to modern standards,” said Christina Bader, CTA project manager.

Credit: Screenshot by Manan Bhavnani

Given the vital role of the lines, the agency is also hoping to boost capacity by adding 10- and 8-car extensions on the Red and Purple lines, respectively. The Purple line’s current capacity is 6 cars.

Another key facet of the plan is to make stations ADA accessible, Bader said, since a number of stations on the Purple line currently lack such features as elevators.

Next up for the CTA: extensive planning, environmental surveys and funding, Bader said.

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Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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  1. Yes , a very good ideal to improve these stations, long overdue and well worth the money. Its a shame it took so long.

  2. Yes modernizing purple line stations and making them ADA compliant is way overdue. But upgrading all stations to accommodate 8 car trains is absurd and beyond a waste of critical dollars. We live across of the tracks between the Dempster and Davis street stations. The 6 car trains are never never never even close to half full. 8 trains. LUDICROUS.