Definitions

stub track

Yellow Line (Chicago Transit Authority)

Yellow Line |image = Skokie.jpg |image_width = 275 px |caption = A Yellow Line train at the Skokie terminal. |type = Rapid transit |system = Chicago 'L' |status = |locale = Skokie, Illinois, U.S. |start = Howard |end = Skokie |stations = 2 |routes = |ridership = approx. 5,000 (avg. weekday boardings) |open = March 25, 1925 January 21, 1963 (reopening) |close = March 27, 1948 (later reopened) |owner = |operator = Chicago Transit Authority |character = |stock = 3200-series |linelength = |tracklength = |notrack = |gauge = |el = Third rail |speed = |elevation = |map = |}}

The Yellow Line (Skokie Swift Service), is part of the Chicago Transit Authority's Chicago 'L' heavy rail rapid transit system in Chicago, Illinois. The 5.1 mile (8.2 km), non-stop shuttle route runs from the Howard Street Terminal on the northern city limits of Chicago, through the southern part of suburban Evanston, to the Dempster Street Terminal in Skokie, Illinois.

At Howard Street, Yellow Line passengers can transfer to the Purple or Red Lines of the CTA. The Yellow Line is the only CTA line that does not go to Chicago's Loop. It is also unique in that it runs in a below-grade trench for part of its length, although it has no subway component and does not run in an expressway median and it includes grade segments and crossings at the northern portion of the line. It was built using the tracks of the former Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad's high-speed Skokie Valley Line.

Extending the line to Old Orchard Mall in Skokie has been discussed as well. At one time the line had several intermediate stops in Evanston and Skokie--including one at Oakton--but these stations have long been out of use and have been dismantled.

Travel time along the Skokie Swift-Yellow Line is about eight minutes. Trains operate using Morrison-Knudsen-built 3200-Series rail cars (and occasionally 2600-Series rail cars) in two-car train consists with 10 to 12 minute headways all day. Service is provided Daily, Monday-Friday between 5am and 10:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 6am and 11pm with about 2,800 daily station boardings.

Operation

The Yellow Line begins at the Skokie terminal located at 5005 Dempster St. in Skokie. A stub track extends north of the station to allow trains to turn around. The line runs south from Skokie at street level. After crossing Oakton Street, the Yellow Line turns east and briefly rises to cross Skokie Boulevard (U.S. Route 41) before returning to grade level. After the East Prairie Road grade crossing, the tracks rise to become an elevated route. At this point, the route passes the Skokie Shops CTA maintenance facility and crosses over the North Shore Channel. After passing over Dodge Avenue, the tracks descend into a below-grade trench. The line remains in the trench for about , then passes under the Metra Union Pacific/North Line and Purple Line tracks to enter Howard Yard. The line then rises to serve the elevated Howard station. A stub extends south of the station to allow Yellow and Purple Line trains to turn around.

History

The Yellow Line originally started as the Niles Center Branch of the old Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT). The rapid transit service began as part of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad's high-speed Skokie Valley interurban line on a five-mile section between Howard Terminal and Dempster Street, Niles Center. It was placed in operation on March 28, 1925.

The route included several intermediate stops through Evanston and Skokie (then called Niles Center) at Ridge, Asbury, Dodge, Crawford/ East Prairie, Kostner, Oakton and Main. On March 27, 1948, the Chicago Transit Authority (who had just bought out the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947) discontinued service over the Niles Center Branch and replaced it with the #97 Skokie bus service. The stations were closed and remained dormant for the next 15 years.

The CRT had always owned the trackage between Howard Street and the Skokie heavy repair and inspection shops and thus their successors, the CTA, would inherit it as well.

On January 21, 1963, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad ceased all of its operations, and the remaining section of trackage between the Skokie Shops and Dempster Street was purchased by the CTA. The intermediate stations were never reopened. Some of the vacant station houses were used by other businesses, including a convenience store and an electrical supplier, before finally being razed in the 1980s.

The Skokie Swift

The Skokie Swift high-speed (5 miles in 6-1/2 minutes) service, between Howard Street in Chicago and Dempster Street, Skokie, was inaugurated on April 20, 1964, as a federally-aided mass transportation demonstration project. Participation in the net project costs was divided between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CTA and the Village of Skokie.

The success of this project had attracted nationwide attention. On its first day of service, Skokie Swift carried nearly 4,000 passengers in a 16-hour period compared to approximately 1,600 passengers carried by the North Shore Railroad from the Dempster Terminal in a 12-hour period before the railroad terminated. Ridership continued to increase and by the end of the first year, nearly 6,000 passengers were riding the new line each weekday.

Because of the weekday success, Saturday service was inaugurated, with more than 2,000 riders. At the end of the two-year experimental period, 3,500,000 persons had used the new service, and CTA authorized operation of the Skokie Swift as a permanent part of its rapid transit system.

The success of the Skokie Swift route demonstrated that many motorists will forsake their cars when high-speed mass transit is provided, and to a minor extent, gave birth to the first use of light rail before the term was ever coined.

One of the distinctive features of the five mile line was that approximately half was equipped with third rail while the other half was equipped with catenary left over from the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad. Trains switched non-stop from third rail to overhead and vice-versa using distinctive pan trolleys designed by Skokie Swift Project Manager George Krambles.

On February 9, 1992, Saturday service was discontinued during a service purge by CTA. The "Skokie Swift" name was changed to the "Yellow Line" in 1993, when all Chicago 'L' lines were renamed for colors. The Dempster Street Terminal was completely remodeled in 1994, with a new station house and train platforms. In 2003, the old brick station building (designed by architect Arthur U. Gerber) was moved 150 feet to the east, then was restored and converted into commercial property.

The Skokie Swift was the only Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit line to use overhead catenary for electrification. It was also the last Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit line to use overhead, as portions of the Evanston and Lake Street lines used conventional trolley overhead until 1973 and 1962, respectively. Third rail electrification was installed in 2004 to allow compatibility with other rapid transit lines, increase reliability, and reduce maintenance costs.

Future expansion

The Chicago Transit Authority is currently formulating plans to extend the Yellow Line northward from the current end-of-line terminal at Dempster Street, Skokie to a new end-of-line terminal at Old Orchard Mall, a distance of about 1.5 miles.

Three alternatives are being studied, one plan would have the Yellow Line tracks follow the old North Shore Railroad right-of-way at grade from Dempster Street to about Church Street, then follow private property, possibly in a subway north to Golf Road. The route could then emerge from the short tunnel in an open-cut to the proposed Old Orchard Terminal which could also be built below street grade, or as an elevated structure immediately west of the mall. Another alternative keeps the yellow line on the former Chicago & Northwestern and North Shore Line right of way, passing under the Edens Expressway north of Golf Road and terminating at Old Orchard Road near Woods Drive.

Also, the planning process is nearing completion to establish a new intermediate stop on the Yellow Line at Oakton Street in downtown Skokie to serve the Illinois Science & Technology Park, which is scheduled to be completed in 2008, and other stops have been proposed at Kostner Avenue, Crawford Avenue, and perhaps on the section of the route in Evanston. Plans are also being studied to resume weekend service if ridership increases are sufficient when the new stations open.

On March 30, 2008, weekend service commenced following CTA board approval for a six month trial period on the Yellow Line to determine if it gains enough ridership to keep that service permanent.

Station listing

Yellow Line (Skokie Swift)
Station Location Points of interest and notes
Skokie 5005 W. Dempster Street, Skokie Skokie
Main Closed March 27, 1948
Oakton Oakton Street and Skokie Boulevard, Skokie Closed March 27, 1948
Kostner Closed March 27, 1948
Crawford-East Prairie Mulford Street between Crawford Avenue and East Prairie Road, Skokie Closed March 27, 1948
Dodge Dodge Street and Mulford Street, Evanston Closed March 27, 1948
Asbury Asbury Street and Brummel Street,Evanston Closed March 27, 1948
Ridge Ridge Avenue and Brummel Street, Evanston Closed March 27, 1948
Howard 1649 W. Howard Street, Chicago Transfer station for Red and Purple Lines

CTA bus connections

At Howard

  • 22 - Clark
  • 97 - Skokie
  • 147 - Outer Drive Express
  • 201 - Central/Ridge
  • 205 - Chicago/Golf
  • 206 - Evanston Circulator

At Skokie

  • 54A - North Cicero
  • 97 - Skokie

Gallery

See also

External links

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