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O'Hare People Mover To Start Running Again Wednesday, Years Behind Schedule And Millions Over Budget

CHICAGO (CBS) -- You're paying for it every time you fly, but the fast-track People Mover at O'Hare International Airport has been parked and mothballed for more than three years.

Now revamped and ready to run, it is years behind schedule and millions over budget. CBS 2's Meredith Barack dug into the delays Tuesday.

"As many of you know, the ATS construction began to modernize and expand the train in 2017," Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said Tuesday.

It has been a long and winding road to get the ATS, or Airport Transit System – better known as the People Mover – back on the tracks at O'Hare.

"The extended and modernized ATS features upgrades - major upgrades - which include a larger fleet of trains to provide more frequent service, a 2,000-foot extension with an additional station at the multi-modal facility where we are today to connect the rental cars and Economy Lot F," Rhee said.

The People Mover will officially begin operating for travelers on Wednesday. It comes after years of delays, which the Department of Aviation said were caused by several factors - including the pandemic.

CBS 2 has been following the setbacks since the fall of 2019, when the People Mover was supposed to reopen.

It started with a dispute between the Department of Aviation and contractor Parsons Construction, which resulted in a mediated settlement that established a new completion date for the People Mover for November of that year.

That date came and went, and in July 2020, CBS 2 was told, a mechanical issue required the entire ATS fleet to be retrofitted.

The city has paid Parsons more than $320 million for the project, with revenue generated by rental car fees, airline fees, passenger facility charges collected on most airline tickets at O'Hare, and rent paid by rental car companies.

In the end, the project has been left $13 million over budget.

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