City of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Transit Authority President Ron Huberman and CTA Board Chair Carole Brown today provided details on how technology and the CTA’s Apprentice program are helping the agency cut costs while improving the quality of service for customers.
"As you all know, I continue to challenge all city agencies to improve the quality of service they provide to our residents – each and every day. For the Chicago Transit Authority, this means looking for new, creative ways to provide safe, reliable and clean service to riders," said Mayor Daley during a press conference at the 74th Street CTA bus garage, 1907 W. 74th St.
In August, the CTA will make the majority of its bus supervisor positions mobile rather than assigned to fixed locations. Using Bus Tracker, and a new application called Supervisor Information Management System or SIMS, bus supervisors will have access to real-time information to better manage the on-time performance of buses, and deal proactively with bus bunching and service delays to riders. CTA bus supervisors will no longer be assigned to stationary positions with clipboards to manage bus service.
With the implementation of SIMS, supervisors can be mobile so that they can provide real-time assistance to operators and customers, and make real-time decisions to minimize service delays. They will also have GPS-enabled phones and wireless laptops similar to those used by the Chicago Police Department which will also improve communication and tracking with the CTA's Control Center. This new technology is expected to save the CTA approximately $1.5 million.
Bus Tracker Bus Tracker, www.ctabustracker.com, is CTA's web-based program that uses global positioning system (GPS) technology to provide real-time information on buses as they travel their routes. On July 21, 15 more bus routes will be added to the Bus Tracker web site bringing the total number of routes accessible through Bus Tracker to 67. In addition, new program enhancements and upgraded features, such as Google-based mapping which will provide customers and supervisors with improved capabilities.
"CTA continually looks for ways to improve the customer experience by getting better information into the hands of customers," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "Customers will find that the Bus Tracker improvements will make it easier to navigate and access information in one convenient location."
Routes that will be added to Bus Tracker on July 21 include:
Other new features include:
Ex-Offender Apprentice Program
In November, CTA launched a new initiative in which hard-to-employ individuals and ex-offenders were hired to participate in the CTA's Apprentice program. As part of the program, the agency selected 50 individuals to complete job readiness training through the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (MOWD), which partners with non-profit community organizations to help hard to place individuals re-enter the workforce. This grant program helps subsidize the costs non-profit community organizations spend in assisting ex-offenders. Currently the CTAprogram has 156 individuals that are assigned to cleaning both bus and rail cars.
"The Apprentice program helps the CTA in its efforts to provide a clean traveling environment for customers and provides a second chance for individuals who have faced difficult times in their lives get back on their feet," said Mayor Daley. "As I have said many times before, our families, our neighborhoods and our city's economy all benefit when formerly incarcerated individuals achieve their independence and lead healthy, responsible lives."
Individuals who successfully complete the job training program are placed in a pool of candidates that are eligible to participate in the program. When apprenticeships become available, CTA receives resumes from the MOWD, interviews the candidates, administers drug testing and provides additional hands-on rail and bus cleaning training for those selected.
"The program we have been operating is one of the largest transition programs in the country," said Huberman. "It offers the longest term for workers to prove themselves, nine months, where many other programs are limited to only 12 weeks."
The apprentices work various shifts, five days a week and make $9.50 per hour. CTA's goal is to transition the best workers into permanent positions. From the original 50 in the program, CTA is in the process of hiring seven on a full-time permanent basis.