Purple Line (Chicago Transit Authority)

Purple Line (Chicago Transit Authority)

Infobox rail line
name = color box|#CTA color|Purple Purple Line

image_width = 275 px
caption = The Central Street station on the Purple Line
type = Rapid transit
system = Chicago 'L'
status = Operational
locale = Evanston and Wilmette, Illinois, USA
start = Linden
end = Howard
The Loop (rush hour only)
stations = 9
routes =
ridership = approx. 31,000 (avg. weekday boardings including Purple Express)
open =
close =
owner =
operator = Chicago Transit Authority
character = Elevated and Street Level
stock = 2400-series, 2600-series and 3200-series
linelength = convert|3.9|mi|km|abbr=on
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge =
el = Third rail
speed =
elevation =

CTA Purple Line|
The Purple Line of the Chicago Transit Authority is a convert|3.9|mi|km|sing=on branch line on the northernmost section of the Chicago 'L' rapid transit network. Normally, it extends south from the Wilmette terminal at Linden Avenue, passing through Evanston to Howard Street, on Chicago's northern city limits.

The Purple Line operates weekdays 4 a.m. to 1 a.m., Saturdays 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. During weekday rush hours (approximately 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), the Purple Line extends another convert|10.3|mi|km south from Howard Street to downtown Chicago running express from Howard Street to Belmont Avenue, and then making all local stops to the Loop. The express service is known as the Purple Line Express, while the Linden-Howard shuttle service is the Purple Line Shuttle. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/rail/rail.html Train Schedules] . Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

Prior to the color-coding of CTA rail lines in 1993, the Purple Line was known as the Evanston Line, Evanston Service, or Evanston Shuttle, while the Purple Line Express was called the Evanston Express. Many Chicagoans still refer to the Purple Line by these names. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/purple.html Purple Line] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

The Purple Line is useful for reaching Northwestern University (Davis, Foster, and Noyes stops in Evanston) and the Bahá'í House of Worship (Linden stop). The selection of purple as the line's color was likely no accident, as one of Northwestern's official school colors is purple.



Beginning at the Linden Avenue terminal in Wilmette, which contains a small storage yard and car service shop, the Purple Line traverses the North Shore area on private right-of-way which begins at street grade. Running southeasterly from Wilmette, the line rises past Isabella Street on the Wilmette-Evanston border then bridges the North Shore Channel immediately north of Central Street, the first stop in Evanston. The line, now on an elevated embankment, curves southward parallel to Sherman Street. Continuing south, the line enters downtown Evanston and stops at Davis, then curves southeasterly again to parallel Chicago Avenue and Metra's Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way to Clark Street just north of the CTA's Howard Yard facilities.

Here the line crosses through the yard area before the junction with the Red Line and the Yellow Line. The tracks are split on grade separated structures to allow Yellow Line trains to enter the junction from the west. Immediately south of the yard lies the Howard Street terminal, where Red, Purple, and Yellow Line trains all terminate.

There are four operational tracks starting at the Howard station, continuing on to the Armitage station. During weekday rush hours, the Purple Line runs express on the outermost tracks, skipping all stops until Belmont. At that point the Red and Purple Lines merge into two inner tracks, and meet the Brown Line on the outer local tracks at that point. From Belmont to Merchandise Mart, the Purple Line and Brown Line share the outside tracks and both make all stops along the route. South of Armitage, they are on a two track line on a 4-track structure. The reason the trains share two tracks on a four-track structure is that the exterior tracks deteriorated so much that they were no longer functional, abandoned and no longer necessary once the North Shore Line ceased operations in 1963. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/towers/armitage.html Armitage Tower] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.]


The original routing of the Purple Line Express was clockwise around the Inner Loop track via Lake-Wabash-Van Buren-Wells, making all Loop stops before returning to Merchandise Mart and making all stops in reverse northbound. Beginning April 2, 2007, the Purple Line Express was rerouted onto the Outer Loop along with the Brown Line due to construction at Belmont and Fullerton stations (see below). [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=121085 CTA Outlines Plans for Three-Track Operation This Spring] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-01-10. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.] Prior to this, Purple Line Express trains would occasionally diverted to the Outer Loop in the event of emergencies or signal problems in the Loop. If a problem occurs between the Loop and the Fullerton station, the Purple Line is generally routed into the subway, following the Red Line to the Roosevelt station before returning north. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=101013 Rail Service Disruptions Result of Three Unrelated Occurrences] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-09-28. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.]

For several years, southbound afternoon Purple Line Express trains stopped at the Addison Red Line station before weekday evening Chicago Cubs baseball games, in order to provide direct service to Wrigley Field for passengers from northern Chicago, Evanston, and Skokie. However, trains had to cross over to the inner Red Line tracks, as there is no platform access to the outer tracks at Addison. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=131392 CTA Best Choice for Baseball Fans Traveling to U.S. Cellular and Wrigley Field this Baseball Season] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-03-21. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.] As a result of the Brown Line construction and in effort to minimize delays, trains now stop one station north at Sheridan before evening Cubs games. The station was constructed with two island platforms that can access the express tracks, eliminating the need for trains to switch over. Additionally, both northbound and southbound evening rush trains now stop at the station. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=114251 CTA Provides Service to Wrigley Field This Baseball Season] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-04-05. Retrieved on 2007-05-21.]


In its rush hour trip, the Purple Line Express is one of only two 'L' lines to feature transfers to every other line, the other being the Red Line.

The Purple Line stations at Davis and Main are immediately to the east of their Metra counterparts, while the Washington/Wells, Quincy, LaSalle/Van Buren, and Randolph/Wabash stations on the express leg are within walking distance of Metra trains at Ogilvie Transportation Center, Union Station, LaSalle Street Station, and Millennium Station, respectively.

Operating fleet

Currently, the Purple Line is almost entirely equipped with 2400-series railcars. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/trains/assignline.html CTA Car Assignments] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2007-09-16.] In spring 2007, small numbers of 3200-series cars were transferred to the line, [ [http://www.flickr.com/photos/cta34573458/946492957/ 3200-series cars at Linden] . Flickr. 2007-07-29. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.] replacing 2600-series cars transferred to other assignments. The Purple Line Shuttle usually runs four cars while the Purple Line Express runs six cars, although lengths of trains on the shuttle service can vary due to special circumstances and events.


The Northwestern Elevated era

The Evanston Line was placed in operation on May 16, 1908 between Central Street, Evanston and the Loop when the former Northwestern Elevated Railroad Company extended its mainline service over leased electrified steam railroad trackage owned by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. [Borzo, Greg (2007). "The Chicago "L". Arcadia Publishing, p. 80. ISBN 0738551007.] On April 2, 1912, the line reached its present-day terminal at Linden Avenue, Wilmette. The new terminal was established without permission of Wilmette residents, who feared rail service would encourage construction of large apartment buildings in the affluent community. [Borzo, Greg (2007). "The Chicago "L". Arcadia Publishing, p. 81. ISBN 0738551007.]

In 1922, the surface level section of the North Side 'L' was elevated onto a concrete embankment structure between Leland Avenue and Howard Street, and was expanded from two to four tracks, thus allowing complete express service from Wilmette and Evanston to downtown Chicago. Several segments of the Evanston Branch itself ran at street level until 1928, when it was elevated onto a concrete embankment between Church Street and the North Shore Channel. It was placed in operation on January 29, 1928. [Borzo, Greg (2007). "The Chicago "L". Arcadia Publishing, p. 84. ISBN 0738551007.] Nine stations existed after Howard, including a station at Calvary. That station was closed in 1931 and replaced by a new station at South Boulevard to the north. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/stations/calvary.html Calvary] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

CTA era

The current service which was to become the Purple Line went into effect on July 31, 1949, after a massive service re-orientation on the North-South rapid transit system by the still infant Chicago Transit Authority. Local service was restricted between Linden Avenue and Howard Street, operating at all times. The express service ran weekday rush hours only, stopping at all Evanston stations, Howard, Morse (formerly Rogers Park), Loyola, Wilson, Chicago, Merchandise Mart, and then all Loop stations. While skip-stop service was also introduced at this time, Evanston trains continued to make all stops at their respective stations. ["CTA will start new skip-stop service on 'L'; north and south routes affected in plan." "Chicago Daily Tribune". 1949-06-30.] An express surcharge was also instituted for customers traveling to and from the Loop past Howard. Several attempts were made to reduce or eliminate the fare, backed by local politicians. ["CTA passes up cut in express 'L' train fare." "Chicago Daily Tribune". 1957-09-06.]

Right-of-way and trackage used by the Evanston Branch and the North-South Route (today's Red Line) between Leland Avenue and the Wilmette terminal was purchased by the CTA in 1953 from the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. ["CTA will buy 'L' segment and asks bond bids." "Chicago Daily Tribune". 1953-10-10.] In turn, the railroad received $7 million USD in CTA revenue bonds. ["Rail buys CTA bonds, sells 'L' right of way." "Chicago Daily Tribune". 1953-10-17.]

Midday and Saturday Loop Express service was discontinued in the 1950s and the local shuttle service began using one-man operations with single unit cars in the 1960s.

On July 16, 1973, the Isabella station was closed, bringing the total number of stations on the Evanston branch to eight. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/stations/isabella.html Isabella] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

On November 8, 1973, the third rail system was installed on the Evanston Branch between South Boulevard in Evanston and the Wilmette terminal. Prior to this, Evanston shuttle trains had to be equipped with trolley poles and power collected through overhead catenary wires (similar to the Yellow Line before its conversion to third rail in 2004). The conversion to third rail allowed the CTA to retire the 4000-series railcars, which were nearly fifty years old, and put newer cars on the line. Since parts of the line are at grade level, some community members initially resisted the conversion and worried the proximity of the rail would be hazardous. ["Residents hit CTA hot rail plan." Connie Lauerman. "Chicago Tribune". 1973-06-07.]

By the end of 1976, the additional stops after Howard were eliminated, and the Evanston Express ran nonstop between Howard and Merchandise Mart. The CTA cited complaints about delays in service due to the extra stops as justification for their removal. ["Express 'L' ends stops at 2 stations." "Chicago Tribune". 1976-12-09.]

However, on January 20, 1989, express trains once more began making additional stops outside the Loop, at the Belmont, Fullerton, and Chicago stations, partly in order to relieve overcrowding on the rapidly-growing Ravenswood (later Brown) Line. By the end of the 1990s, trains would make all stops between Belmont and the Loop. ["Evanston Express adds stops Jan. 20." "Chicago Tribune". 1988-11-04.]

The express surcharge was eventually dropped in 1997 as an incentive for customers to use the new TransitCard system. ["CTA to drop surcharge with use of new transit card." Jon Hilkevitch. "Chicago Tribune". 1997-06-12.]

The overnight "owl service" was eliminated during a service purge by the CTA on April 26, 1998. ["CTA to begin latest cutbacks, reducing its late-night service." "Chicago Tribune". 1998-04-26.] However, the hours of express operation were expanded on December 16, 2001 for a 180-day trial period. Trains departed Linden for downtown one hour earlier in the morning rush and one hour later in the evening rush. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/archpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=109571 The CTA announces bus and rail service improvements] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2001-10-03. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.] The expanded hours were later made permanent and in 2004 afternoon rush service was also revised to begin twenty-five minutes earlier. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/archpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=111020 CTA announces additional rail service improvements] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2004-01-22. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

In 2005, the CTA embarked on a project to replace six deteriorating viaducts on the Evanston branch of the Purple Line. The poor condition of the century-old viaducts forced the implementation of permanent slow zones and were a point of contention for many Evanston politicians. They claimed CTA had secured funds and promised to begin replacing the viaducts starting in 1999, but had diverted the funds to other projects. The CTA responded that it only provided projected uses and had not committed the money to any specific purpose. ["Legislators snub CTA over Evanston repairs; rebuilding sought of 6 old viaducts." Courtney Flynn. "Chicago Tribune". 2003-06-20.] The Main Street viaduct was completely replaced over the weekend of November 12-13, 2005, requiring the temporary shutdown of the Purple Line. Construction was completed by the Monday morning rush hour. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/archpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=131199 CTA to Install New Steel Viaduct at Main Street this Weekend] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2005-11-11. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.] The Church Street viaduct was replaced next; preliminary work at that location began in July 2006 [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=101695 CTA Field Work Begins to Replace Church Street Viaduct] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-07-06. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.] and the new viaduct was installed in late October 2006 during another weekend closure of the Purple Line. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=120596 CTA to Install New Steel Viaduct at Church Street this Weekend] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-10-26. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.]


The Purple Line's Howard terminal began a major renovation in 2006. The station will be completely replaced and made ADA-accessible by 2009. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=126719 CTA Names Contractor for Red Line Howard Station Rehabilitation] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-01-11. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.] Major work on the station progressed throughout 2007, causing temporary platform boarding changes, typically on the weekends. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnewA.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=100060 Howard Station Rehabilitation Construction Work] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-09-14. Retrieved on 2007-09-16.]

The CTA has also embarked on a $530 million USD project to rehabilitate and replace stations and infrastructure along the Brown Line. Seven stations included in the project are shared with the Purple Line, along with the associated trackage [ [http://www.ctabrownline.com Countdown to a New Brown: The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project] . Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.] and signals [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=118734 CTA Track and Signal Renewal Project to Upgrade Red and Brown Line Junction] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2006-05-01. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.] from north of the Belmont station to the Loop. Beginning April 2, 2007, operation on the Purple, Brown, and Red Lines between Addison and Armitage was restricted to three tracks, down from the previous four, due to construction at the Fullerton and Belmont stations. Because of this, fewer trains operate to downtown during the rush period in order to prevent a bottleneck. Only every other train is sent to the Loop during rush periods; all other trains operate between Linden and Howard only. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/rail/purple/Linden.pdf Linden Purple Line Timetable] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-03-02. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.] In addition, the Purple Line Express routing was changed to the Outer Loop, rather than along the Inner Loop, in order to provide riders more options for accessing stations between Belmont and the Loop. This situation is expected to last through 2009.

One form of the CTA's "Circle Line" plan would call for a rerouting of the Purple Line Express service. Rather than continue to the Loop along with the Brown Line, trains would follow the Red Line after Belmont, making a stop at Fullerton and all current Red Line subway stops and terminate at a new station on Wentworth before heading north. However, this is merely a study and the final form of the Circle Line and its effects on current CTA rail service, if the project begins at all, remain to be seen. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=120700 Loop the Loop - Proposal for new Circle Line] . Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

The express service has often been targeted for elimination during service purges due to its "auxiliary" nature compared to other CTA rail lines, the rationalization being that there are readily available, albeit slower, alternatives along its entire route. One of the first moves at halting express service came in 1973 ["CTA cuts 18 bus routes, 23 'L' stations." Tom Buck, Edward Schreiber. "Chicago Tribune". 1973-01-16.] while one of the most recent was in 2005, when threatened service cuts included the Purple Line Express. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=115003 Chicago Transit Board Selects Reduced Service Plan] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2005-04-13 Retrieved on 2006-09-23.]

The CTA budget crisis continued into 2007, and the Purple Line Express was once again selected as one of several routes to be eliminated if additional funding was not provided. The suggested service cuts would have taken effect September 17, 2007. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=115293 CTA Outlines Contingency Plan] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-05-24. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.] However, the final plan retained the downtown service, making the stop at the Sheridan station permanent to supplement the Red Line and provide additional capacity on the system following the elimination of thirty-nine bus routes. Express operation would be a day-to-day decision; if the Red Line was deemed too crowded, Purple Line Express trains would make all local stops between Howard and Belmont, resuming the regular route at that station. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=106396#faq Service Reductions and Fare Increases Effective September 16, 2007] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-09-03 Retrieved on 2007-09-15.]

The service cuts were scheduled to be implemented on September 16, 2007, [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=127909 CTA Board Approves Modified Contingency Plan] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-08-08. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.] but the CTA received a last-minute $24 million advance on its 2008 operating subsidy, postponing the changes until November 4, 2007. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=109446 CTA Statement on Postponing Service Reductions and Fare Increases] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-09-14 Retrieved on 2007-09-15.] A last-minute $21 million grant from the governor once again postponed the changes to January 20, 2008 [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=102413 CTA Postpones Service Cuts, Fare Increases and Employee Layoffs Scheduled for November 4] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-11-02 Retrieved on 2008-02-27.] , this time including the elimination of forty two additional routes. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/whatsnew2.wu?action=displaynewspostingdetail&articleid=129074 Service Reductions and Fare Increases due to Insufficient State Funding] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2008-01-07 Retrieved on 2008-02-27.] However, the Illinois Legislature successfully passed HB656, a transit funding package, on January 17, 2008, providing the CTA with sufficient operating funds and preventing the service cuts. [ [http://www.transitchicago.com/news/ctaandpress.wu?action=displayarticledetail&articleid=131529 CTA Statement Regarding Passage of Transit Funding Legislation] . Chicago Transit Authority. 2008-01-17 Retrieved on 2008-02-27.]

Destination signs

These are the destination signs used by the Purple Line since 1996, when they began displaying the route name on the line color background. [ [http://www.chicago-l.org/signage/train/index.html Train Destination Signs] . Chicago "L".org. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.]

tation listing

At Clark/Lake, Purple Line Express trains return to Merchandise Mart and make all stops in reverse to Linden.

ee also

* Chicago 'L'
* List of stations on the 'L'

External links

* [http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/purple.html Purple Line] at [http://www.chicago-l.org/ Chicago-'L'.org]
* [http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/rail/rail.html Train schedules] at [http://www.transitchicago.com/ CTA official site]


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