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O’Hare to extend its people mover 2,000 feet to rental-car campus

AviatiCommissioner Rosemarie Andolino is making push install slot machines O'Hare airport. | AP

Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino is making a push to install slot machines at O'Hare airport. | AP

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Updated: November 27, 2012 10:50AM

O’Hare Airport’s 2.7-mile people mover system will be upgraded to accommodate more passengers and extended 2,000 feet — to a rental car campus and parking garage with access to an existing Metra station, a top mayoral aide disclosed Thursday.

Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino pegged the cost of the people mover extension at $340 million and the combined cost of the extension and rental car campus at more than $700 million. She said the $8 fee slapped onto the cost of renting a car at O’Hare in 2010 should be enough to cover both projects.

The people mover will be extended to Parking Lot F at the southeast corner of Mannheim and Zemke. That’s where the city is building a new five-level economy parking structure to be shared by rental cars and public parking with convenient access to an existing Metra station. The extension is expected to be completed in 2016. The upgrade includes the purchase of 15 new people-mover cars.

“We’re gonna bond against future collections. With that, I think we’re gonna be OK. We’re gonna have all of the costs covered with what we have” without an increase in the $8 fee, she said.

“We’re satisfied with the way revenue collection is coming in and with having enough money to be able to fund it. . . . But we’ll know more as we complete the design, get more actual costs. . . . We’ll address that further as we move forward with more review of what we need.”

Two years ago, the City Council added $8 to the cost of renting a car at O’Hare to bankroll a $393 million facility that will consolidate airport rental car companies into a central location to make way for new runways. A $3.75 fee was imposed at Midway.

At the time, City Hall described the $8 “customer facility charge” as a starting point and said the fee would go higher if the people mover system was extended to the new rental car campus instead of simply consolidating the companies’ shuttle bus operations.

Testifying on Thursday at City Council budget hearings, Andolino disclosed the city’s decision to go the more expensive route.

“Right now, you take buses to get to Enterprise, Avis or Hertz. Now, you’ll take the people mover. So it’s more environmentally friendly. It reduces congestion on our local roadways. And it provides a more seamless transition for our customers to get ’em out of the terminal and to the car-rental facility,” she said.

“It’ll also give connectivity for those Metra riders to walk into the building, then take the people mover to the terminal, get on the Blue Line, too, and get downtown. So it’s really multi-modal development.”

The $137.8 million people mover system opened in 1993 to ease roadway congestion at O’Hare with a capacity of 2,400 passengers an hour.

The system currently includes five stations and 2.7 miles of double guideway connecting three domestic terminals, the international terminal and remote parking facilities.

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