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Emanuel announces new way to clean CTA stations

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan today that he says will allow the city to more efficiently clean and repair Chicago Transit Authority train stations.

Teams of city workers and private contractors will work together, moving from station to station to complete all the work at once, Emanuel said at a news conference with CTA president Forrest Claypool. Currently, different kinds of workers perform the station repairs on different schedules.

"This is a sort of SWAT team approach to comprehensively address all the outstanding issues at a station at once -- cleaning, repairing and improving rather than the piecemeal approach used previously," Claypool said in a news release.

The effort will cost about $25 million using money that's available because of cuts to the CTA bureaucracy, Claypool said.

Neither  Emanuel nor Claypool ruled out the possibility of a CTA fare hike as the agency deals with a yawning deficit and extensive repair needs. Claypool simply said the agency's budget will be released in about a month.

But Emanuel did say improvements to the CTA remain important. The mayor noted that nearly 40 percent of CTA ridership occurs on the Red Line, and said that line is the top priority as the city looks at more large-scale repairs like track replacement and station renovations.

Emanuel and Claypool appeared at the Logan Square Blue Line station, the first to benefit from the new cleaning plan. The 'Renew Crew,' as the repair team is called, will try to work on 100 CTA stations in the next year, Emanuel said.

As he often does, the mayor said public transportation investments are key to luring businesses to Chicago.

"You can see the before and after at Logan Square," Emanuel said, pointing to new lighting, a paint job and other repairs at the Northwest Side subway station.

"It makes the commute a more favorable experience," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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