Some options being considered by Chicago Transit Authority officials for modernizing the Purple Line through Evanston include closing stations at South Boulevard and Foster Street.

The entrance to the South Boulevard station has an elaborate glazed terracotta facade.

The plans, to be discussed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, propose adding new entrances to the Davis Street station at Church Street., to the Noyes Street station at Gaffield Place, and to the Main Street station at Madison Street as a way to minimize added walking times for commuters now served by the stations that would close.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said that upgrades to the Purple Line are desperately needed, and she encouraged residents to turn out in large numbers for the meeting.

Aldermen whose wards include stations that might be closed have voiced opposition to shutdown options.

Students heading for the Northwestern University campus get off a northbound train at the Foster station as a southbound train pulls in.

The Purple Line now makes seven stops in Evanston spaced roughly a half mile apart.

CTA officials say reducing the number of stations would cut overall travel times for commuters and would reduce the cost of upgrading the system.

But opponents say the closures would inconvenience many people who live near the stations that would close and also, in the case of the Foster Street station, reduce traffic to nearby retail businesses.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Saturday and Saturday schedules

    Our family does not own a car, and we have teenagers who independently use transportation as well.  We are heavy users of both the South Blvd El stop and the 201 bus line.  When the bus is running as scheduled, it’s our usual transportation choice.  But it does not run after nine at night, on Sunday or before 9 in the morning on Saturday, meaning that our next choice is a walk to the South Blvd El station. 

    The unspoken expense here by the CTA is that the South Blvd El station will need serious repairs soon.  The stairs are falling to pieces, the building at the top of the stairs is, literally, coming apart at the seams.  To keep this station functional would require a significant investment.

    While we are still at an age when we can ride our bikes for three seasons, our family’s need doesn’t show up in daily ridership numbers, but when the years come that the el is our only transportation option, a walk from our home to Main Street is going to be a long walk indeed.


  2. Retail business at Foster ?

    Business at Foster has been an excuse for years.  Each year it becomes less and less true.

    I don’t know the numbers at stations but aside from NU students, I suspect they are low for Foster.  NU students have been offered a very low cost ‘pass’ per quarter but have turned it down for years saying students don’t use the El that much, so apparently students don’t put much of a premium on Foster. 

    While no one likes to walk, Davis to NU is not that bad.  Distance-wise Main and Davis could probably take over the need for a Dempster station but at least there are a lot of businesses around Dempster.

    Given the walks that Metra patrons must make from stations to home/work/business, a trimmed CTA stop list would not seem that bad.  Alot of Metra riders at east of the Central CTA station already walk past the CTA station on their way to Metra.

    First of all the CTA should deal with the glut of stations at Wilson, Lawrence, Argyle, Berwin to show they are serious.

    1. While there may not be a lot of retail at Foster…

      there are still a number of businesses there (e.g., the Maids) whose employees rely on CTA.

      NU undergrads have rejected the UPass for a few years, because unless you plan on taking the El/bus more than a few times a week it is cheaper to have a pay-as-you-go approach.  But grad students, who are much more likely to live away from campus, have enjoyed the UPass for a number of years.

      It is true that Metra riders have shown that people will walk some distance knowing that a fast and efficient system awaits them at the station.  It remains to be seen whether CTA riders would be willing to walk an extra 5-10 minutes so that they can wait for a slow train that has created increased stops in Chicago for the convenience of city riders while inconveniencing their Evanston customers. 

      1. Upasses

        NU undergrads have not rejected the UPass- we have been fighting for them to be included in tuition like every other major Chicago school does.

        Close Noyes- not Foster. Foster has higher use, anyway. It could use some repairs, though. 

        1. U-Pass at NU

          For the past several years the NU undergraduate student respresentatives have turned down the possibility of having U-Passes for all undergraduates because a) it is an all-or-none deal– every student has to participate or none can, and b) the cost would be tacked on to each students’ fees (not tuition, but a separate activities fee that all students have to pay).

          It is true that other schools (e.g., DePaul, Loyola, UIC) participate in U-Pass, but that is because they have wanted to.  Likewise, the GSA (Graduate Student Association) at NU has chosen to participate, and all grad students are paying for it.

          NU administration has wanted undergraduates to participate as well (it would potentially reduce parking demands on campus), but so far it hasn’t happened


    2. Get rid of Jarvis

      First of all the CTA should deal with the glut of stations at Wilson, Lawrence, Argyle, Berwin to show they are serious

      Whenever the CTA tries to shut a station, the alderman and professional neighborhood activists get upset.  

      I think that Jarvis is the best candidate for deletion.  It is very close to the recently improved Howard Station, and has one of  the lowest ridership counts on the north branch of the Red Line.

    3. NU is more than students

      Uh, let’s not forget the faculty and staff.  NU is the #1 employeer in Evanston.  I bet they account for way more ridership than the students.

      While "Davis to NU is not that bad" you should keep in mind the campus is like a mile long.  Davis to Crown?  Sure.  Davis to Kellogg much less Norris?  That’s a genuine haul.

    4. Not true

      Those at NU affiliated with the Graduate School are required to have the pass you mention.  Other students at NU can’t get it.   It makes sense;  undergrads are likely to live on campus, graduate students are not.  So yes, NU uses the station.

  3. Decision to use Metra vs. CTA is changing

    Closing dilapidated El stops is one thing; some of the other suggestions carry more implications for Evanston commuters.

    It is also suggested that the Purple Line "Express" service introduce stops at Loyola and Wilson, in addition to its current stops at all stations from Belmont south. Obviously, these stops would increase travel time to the Loop. The difference in travel time getting downtown between using Metra rail and the El would get rather extreme. Personally, it takes me just under an hour to get from Noyes St to my office near the Willis (Sears) Tower. Taking Metra, even allowing for a longer walk to the Davis St station, takes about 1/2 hour.

    Soon, a new station will open on the Yellow Line. Hopefully, the Purple Line will fill up more at Howard. What’s the point of getting more commuters from the end of the line and slowing them down before they reach their destination downtown? When does "Express" no longer mean express?

    1. Yellow Line Soon?

      A south Evanston stop on the Yellow line would be great for our neighborhood.  But I think that "soon" really is "maybe."  While the subject has been studied, I’ve seen no announcment of any decisions or funding.  "Soon" could easily be five or ten years from now.

      1. Yellow line work

        The Yellow Line has been closed on a couple of weekends because of "work on the future Oakton station".  What has that been about– surveying or actual work to build a station?

  4. Removing stops is a bad idea

    There is almost (.9) a mile between Davis and Noyes.

    There is 1.3 miles between the Howard stop and the Main stop. 1.3 miles past a train graveyard and a cemetery. That’s a lot of (empty, potentially high-crime) distance between stops, and there are a lot of people who live in that area who benefit from the South Boulevard stop.

    Walking more than half a mile in exteme temperatures or with a lot of snow or ice on the ground isn’t a viable solution, especially for the elderly and less able.

    In a time when our community needs public transportation more (economy) and should be using public transportation more (environment), we should be increasing service, not cutting service. Taking out stops just because we don’t want to put money in to repair them, or because they’re only used by a specific population is irresponsible, especially considering that the two stops up for removal are stops that service populations who need them most (low income and students).

    I’m all for making public transportation more efficient and effective, but removing stops at South Blvd and Foster is anything but.

  5. Keep the Purple Line stops

    I agree with those who have taken the time to post their comments and I do so hope that the word is spread and people show up to the session on Thursday in mass numbers. 

    The populations whose stations would be closed are the exact populations who can ill-afford this to happen.  Adding entrance ways to existing stations in order to cut the time commuters need for walking to the stations is laughable.  Seriously. 

    And… quite frankly, if I am forced to walk to Main Street for the El instead of South Blvd, I will choose to ride the Metra.  The difference in fare price is nominal, especially if I choose the 10 ride ticket, the seating more comfortable, and the ride much quicker.

    I had not heard of the idea to add two more stops to the ‘Express’ and am not sure I understand the reasoning behind that.  I don’t see that it would increase ridership… it would merely add a convenience for those not wanting to bother with the Red Line.

    I’ll see you at the meeting!

    1. Additional Red Line stops

      I would like the Purple Line to be faster…but the South Blvd stop is not a big deal….it doesn’t add too much time to the commute.   As for Foster, that station is in such a state of disrepair that we would all be better off without it…better to spend the money on upgrading and maintaining Noyes and Central.  [Kind of like the branch libraries….]

      A Loyola stop?  I would like the Purple Line Express to really be express…but on the other hand, a Loyola stop might get a lot of Loyola students travelling between Rogers Park and Water Tower campus.  They currently have a shuttle bus. I wonder how many students would take the CTA during the rush hours.

      Wilson stop?  I don’t see the benefit.  Wilson is close enough to Belmont.

      I wish that the Purple Line could skip Wellington, Diversey, Armitage, and Sedgwick….there are plenty of Brown trains that seem to come by all the time when I am waiting at Belmont for a Northbound Purple LIne.

      What enquiring minds want is a Purple/Orange from Evanston to Midway.

  6. Save South B. Stop

    Times are too tough to try to navigate throught Howard Street to get to that station.  We want South B.

  7. After reading the many

    After reading the many thoughtful comments, I believe closin the South station is the optimal choice, not Foster. As previously mentioned: south is probably in greatest disrepair; south has a secondary option (bus); Evanston IS Northwestern (face it) and should cater accordingly; south and main are in VERY close proximity. Something has to close, folks. I also agree with the sentiment about the unending, bunched-up red line stops: yes they are ridiculous, yes they are the obvious closures, and yes, it is not worth the battle with the Professional Left to close them.

  8. Seven stops

    " The Purple Line now makes seven stops in Evanston….."

    There are only seven stops… please leave them all open for ALL the PEOPLE who live in Evanston. And since the CTA is supposed to serve the community, it’s a long time coming that an additional stop be added to the Yellow Line.

    1. False economy

      So why not close Noyes? I don’t see much of a savings in closing the two stations. They’ll have to increase bus service to help those people who use South get down to Howard and that means more employees, gas, equipment, etc., plus more congestion on the streets. It’s a false economy.

  9. Absolutely Not

    I am a Northwestern grad student and Evanston born-and-raised, and I use the South Blvd. el to get to class every day.  The large majority of my building are NU students and staff that also rely on the el.  While it may seem like a short walk to Main for those that don’t live nearby, for those of us that live on South Blvd, it would add a good fifteen minute walk to the morning commute.  That may not seem like a big deal, but in weather like we’ve been having lately, it absolutely is.

    Additionally, I have many childhood friends that live in the surrounding area, and I know that most of us young women that come home at night would prefer NOT to have to walk alone even farther.

  10. No CTA station for you!

    If we want CTA stations in our city, there simply must be a sufficient population to support them.   This means high population density, preferably in the form of a giant Tower at 708 Church….and allowing houses or apartments to be built without 99 parking spots for every resident.

    Every time a branch library or CTA station closes, we must remember that this is the inevitable result of the anti-density movement. 

  11. Keep South Blvd

    If you take away South Blvd. the people on the west side of Chicago Ave. have to cross the street to get to Main Street and then cross back to the west side to get to the station.  This adds time to the commute and creates a traffic situation as lots of people will run across the middle of the street. 

    And what about the older people who ride the El?  Walking to Main St. is a long way to walk and the bus service is not that reliable.  Those who need to get downtown or even travel withing Evanston can use the Purple Line to get around.  Why make it more difficult for a population that we know is aging and in these economic times are giving up cars to use public transportation?

    1. Why would someone living

      Why would someone living west-of-Chicago need to cross Chicago and then back again, to reach the Main station. Explain that step by step, because I think you lost the entire readership. (Are you referring to impact on those DRIVING to Main, or something? If so- no sympathies.)

      Regarding impact on elder riders – to my observation, there arent many using the L. Even in stations with elevators. I believe this is partially due to Evanston policy regarding de-icing of sidewalks… a nonexistent, pretty-please policy, accomplishing (being generous here..) 1 in 8 households de-icing their sidewalks. Perhaps 3 in 4 even bother to shovel. (Leaving every 4th property a mess of compressed snow and ice chunks.)

      It is extremely hazardous for elders to walk to L stations in the winter. But honestly I am not sure they would use it to any great extent anyway… even with citywide, winter sidewalk-safety in force. Unlike Metra, the L seems to be more of a youth culture.

      1. West Chicago Sidewalk

        Uh, becuase there is no sidewalk on the west side of Chicago from South to Madison, only the train embankment.  You could go east to Custer but depending where you live there may be places where it would be faster to cross Chicago twice.

        1. If one is capable of climbing

          If one is capable of climbing a lengthy flight stairs to a platform, one is capable of walking the additional steps on Custer. Uh.

  12. don’t get mad at the CTA

    There have been lots of comments in response to talk of the CTA possibly closing stations on the Purple Line that serves Evanston.

    Before telling the CTA what it should do, and talking of the service we deserve, etc., it’s good to remember this factoid from early in 2010…

    "CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson announced at the Authority’s February board meeting that it costs the Authority approximately $7 to provide a ride on the system while the estimated average fare per trip in FY2009 was $0.97."

    You can read the article from which the quote is taken. It’s a fact that no CTA rider pays more than a fraction of what it costs to run the system and more than a few pay nothing.

    How many of us would ride if we had to fully pay our way? Imagine the anger and uproar if the CTA demanded we pay in full, but at least then riders really would be entitled to the service provided. The CTA is in a bind and anything they do to try to cut costs is understandable, given their financial situation.

    1. I question the CTA’s numbers

      On the face of it, the CTA figures don’t make sense.  Given that a ride costs $2.25 (or $2.50), and the CTA claims the average rider pays $0.97, this implies that either 57% of all riders are riding for free, or an even larger percentage are riding for free or with a reduced fare. Yet the linked article states that only 14.2% of all rides were free.  To reach that claimed $0.97 figure, this would mean that nearly everyone else is riding on a reduced fare, and that is clearly not the case.  Also, revenues per rider actually went up 5% from 2007 to 2009, despite the fact that in 2007 there was no free rides program and in 2009 there was.  If they are going to close stations because of financial issues, at least they could provide honest data and explanations.

      1. CTA Numbers

        Could it be that CTA’s costs are high and exceed revenue?

        There are labor costs (salaries + benefits), maintenance of equipment and infrastructure, etc.

        As an example, when they installed new doors at the Dempster station, there were at least six trucks and workers milling around when two workers were installing the doors.

  13. Closing South Blvd and/or Foster stations

    It is a shame and a travesty that CTA station closures are are under consideration when what our region needs is more access to better public transit…  As a society, we should be discouraging automobile use and encouraging public transportation. 

    Our leaders should be working with the agencies to make public transport more predictable (on a carefully followed schedule) and convenient… As we creep closer to 4 and eventually more dollars per gallon of gasoline, the tables will turn!

    As the CTA opens new stations on Oakton St on their yellow line…  I hope they will take stock in their historic customer relationships (esp. in SE Evanston) as much as with that of their future riders.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas – Chairman, Transportation Task Force, Citizens’ Greener Evanston –

  14. Station Closure

    Faced with the choice of closing either South Blvd or Foster, I think closing Foster is wiser. We probably need only one stop on campus and Foster and Noyes are little more than a quarter mile apart. South Blvd is in a rather dense area (a new residential complex is located across the street, but so is the cemetery which hurts ridership) and is near St Francis Hospital. Being the last stop in Evanston, it provides our link to Chicago (for better or worse). It is also roughly .5 miles from either Main or Howard, which seems to be the magic distance between stations on the recently revitalized red line stations further south that share trackage with the Brown Line, and is on a major, two way street (in reality it effectively serves Oakton St) that supports a bus line to encourage intermodal ridership from further west (which isn’t possible at Foster).  Eliminating that stop would discourage future development in the area and perhaps hurt the growing, continuous urbanization from Rogers Park to South Evanston as well as riders who ride from further west.
    The real stations slowing down the Red/Purple Lines are Loyola, Argyle, and Sheridan. Loyola’s narrow, elongated station causes drivers to slow significantly as the pull in, and it is very close to Granville (which is also heavily utilized by Loyola Students). Argyle is in horrid condition and incredibly close to both Lawrence and Foster. The “S” curve at Sheridan also slow the ride significantly.
  15. Extend Red Line

    Thought should also be given to extending some red line runs through Evanston after the Express trains end service. The vast majority of riders waiting for north bound trains at Howard get on the Purple Line vs the Yellow or exiting the station. The wait can be as long as 15 minutes in addition to the 40 minutes it takes to get there from the Loop. Six car trains (perhaps feasible as ridership is less in off peak hours) or expanded Purple Line stations could both accomplish this.

  16. Meters

    Has anyone looked at the South station ridership and how any decreases relate to the installation of the parking meters installed on Chicago Ave?  The meters don’t start until 9am – people are an hour into their workday at 9am – not parking their car to start their commute.  Thank your local alderman.

    1. What About Meters?

      I don’t understand what you’re refering to.  There are meters now on Chicago Avenue that prevent people from parking there all day long so they can ride the train to work?  Is that the problem?  If you’re already driving why not just go to Howard where there’s a giant garage?

      1. What meters?

         I haven’t checked the details of these meters that start at 9am on Chicago.   How are they set up?

         Near the Davis and Central Stations, there are some meters for daily parkers.  You put in enough quarters to last all day.  Even if the meters aren’t enforced until 8am (or is it 9am?), they tend to taken much earlier than that.  

         There are other meters which are  not meant to be for commuters.  They are limited to 2 hours or 20 minutes or whatever.

        What is Eric complaining about?  If these Chicago meters are meant for commuters, he can arrive earlier than enforcement starts  and pay for the whole day.   If they are meant for short-term shoppers, he shouldn’t be using them to commute – like the previous replier says, there is plenty of parking at Howard, or even Davis or Wilmette.


        1. I don’t drive.

          I am not driving.  I am walking.  Because of the meters people do drive to Howard street or wherever, and they don’t use the South station.  Ridership could be down.  Those who walk to South have to suffer.  The meters just sit there unpaid.  They did nothing but push commuters away.

      2. That is the problem

        I’m not driving, I’m walking – and everyone that does drive goes somewhere else.  Ridership is down at South, possibly becasue of the meters – those of us who walk to the train will have to suffer.  The street is empty and the meters go unpaid.

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