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Race the Red Line: How does the proposed CTA alternative really work?

Lauren Fitzpatrick comes up escalator from Red Line State   Lake from 95th beating TinSfondeles stop. The Sun-Times writers

Lauren Fitzpatrick comes up the escalator from the Red Line at State & Lake from 95th, beating Tina Sfondeles to the stop. The Sun-Times writers were testing out how much longer Red Line riders can expect their commute to be next year when the south end o

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Updated: June 29, 2012 9:34PM

What the heck will South Siders do without the Red Line?

That’s the question that launched an early-morning experiment.

The CTA hatched a plan for next May when it shuts down the south leg of the Red Line from Cermak/Chinatown to 95th Street for five months: Run shuttle buses between each closed station and the Green Line station at Garfield Boulevard.

So Tina Sfondeles and I set out to unscientifically recreate the conditions, starting about 8 a.m. at the 95th Street station. Shuttle buses won’t start for months, so Tina hopped into her white Ford Explorer, 280,000 miles and all, to trace the shuttle’s planned path: Inbound Dan Ryan to Garfield Boulevard, turn east.

I paid my fare and waited on the Red Line platform, hopping an inbound train at 8:13 a.m. and laughing at the inbound traffic on the Ryan that my train flew by.

By the time Tina parked her car at Garfield, I was nearing Cermak, albeit slowly as the L descended into the subway through the Loop.

Tina waited about seven minutes for a train, which shouldn’t be a problem when the real reroute is in place. The CTA says it’ll run more frequent Green Line trains to get passengers downtown.

My straight commute ended at State and Lake Streets a full 13 minutes before Tina arrived.

There were advantages to Tina’s ride: She got to sing along with her car radio (“ha ha” she taunted), likely not an option once the real shuttles begin. But for almost 40 minutes, I scored a window seat and decent peace and quiet.

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