Once meant for public trains and buses, the untouched heaters, rod ends and spools of copper wire have instead collected dust for years at the Chicago Transit Authority's main warehouse.
But a cleanup is under way.
As part of the initiative to cut costs and increase efficiency, the CTA plans to auction off about one-third of its total inventory of unused parts and supplies in late spring, officials said. It will also hire a qualified company to manage inventory, they said.
"Every single dollar that we can save through these reforms will go back into the system," CTA President Forrest Claypool said Monday. "That's one less dollar fare riders have to pay. It means one more job we get to keep on."
The agency, which plans on hiring an auction firm for the cleanup, will first need to review its total inventory before determining how much could be sold, said Brian Steele, spokesman for the CTA. Some of the unused items may end up finding a place somewhere, he said.
"We don't yet know yet the number that we'll auction off," Steele said. "We're going to seek maximum value for the materials."
Almost half of the CTA's total supplies have not been moved in the past year and are worth about $32 million, officials said.
One aisle at the main warehouse contains more than 4,800 decade-old items worth about $6 million, officials said. Another section boasts about 80 outdated bus heaters, worth about $174,344, that were ordered in 2006 but became useless when the CTA switched to newer models of buses.
The items, some of which have sat on shelves for 10 years, have accumulated in CTA warehouses due to poor inventory management and an ineffective tracking system, both problems officials are trying to solve, Claypool said. Large multiple orders in 2008, for example, resulted in a 25-year supply of window films, valued at $109,755.
Efforts to reform the system will include stricter reviews of large supply orders and implementation of electronic bar-coding technology.
"We want to try to turn what we can back to the taxpayers through salvage and auction," Claypool said. "It's another step to squeeze every gallon of waste out of CTA's bureaucracy."