CHICAGO – O’Hare International Airport’s Automated Transit System (ATS) – the People Mover – will return to service in time for the 2019 holiday travel season, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and its construction partners announced today. This announcement comes on the heels of a mediated supplemental settlement agreement reached this week between the City of Chicago and Parsons, the design/build contractor of the ATS Expansion and Modernization project.
“We are looking forward to having our new, improved, and expanded People Mover back in service before travelers take to the skies for the holidays,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “I want to thank our airline partners, rental car operators, shuttle bus drivers – and especially travelers – for their patience while the ATS has been out of service. This has been a challenging project, frustrating at times, but the end result will bring a new level of reliability and convenience to O’Hare.”
Originally commissioned in 1993, the ATS has been out of service since January of this year to facilitate the final stages of construction. When complete, a new fleet of modern vehicles will whisk travelers between the terminals, economy parking lots, and the recently completed Multimodal Facility (MMF) – which consolidates rental car and shuttle bus operations, as well as provides direct access to O’Hare for Metra riders for the first time. Taken together, the expanded ATS and the MMF will provide reliable and efficient transportation options for travelers, and significantly lessen vehicle congestion in the main terminal core.
“Parsons has enjoyed its partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation on the Automated Transportation Service program,” Parsons Chief Operating Officer Carey Smith said. “Collectively, we look forward to trains running prior to the holiday season.”
The exact date that the ATS returns to service remains subject to ongoing safety and reliability testing of the driverless system, but every indication is that the People Mover will be back online prior to Thanksgiving.
As part of the mediated supplemental settlement agreement, work on the project will continue uninterrupted until completion, and the City of Chicago and Parsons have agreed that any outstanding issues will be resolved through arbitration after project completion. In the meantime, both parties have agreed to continued engagement with the mediator in case any new issues arise.
“I want to acknowledge Parsons for their good faith efforts to deliver this critical project, and our local construction partners who have continued to work diligently to keep this project moving forward,” Commissioner Rhee said. “O’Hare already is the best-connected airport in the country in terms of air service, and we’re working hard to mirror that accessibility and connectivity for Chicago and surrounding communities.”
Since the ATS has been shut down, a robust network of shuttle buses has been operating continuously to transport passengers and employees between terminals (Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5) and from the terminals to each economy parking lot (Lots E, G, H); and the MMF. Upon the ATS’s return, a scalable shuttle bus system will remain in operation throughout the 2019-2020 holiday season to ensure redundancy and continuity of service.