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ardecila Jun 7, 2007 1:05 AM

I thought the plan was to build express tracks...?

The Brinkerhoff plan presented two options (passing tracks or using the UP tracks for express service). If the city received that much money from Midway, why wouldn't they build express tracks? That would, of course, be done in conjunction with the rehab of the O'Hare branch.

VivaLFuego Jun 7, 2007 2:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 2882179)
I thought the plan was to build express tracks...?

The Brinkerhoff plan presented two options (passing tracks or using the UP tracks for express service). If the city received that much money from Midway, why wouldn't they build express tracks? That would, of course, be done in conjunction with the rehab of the O'Hare branch.

Well best case would be $1.5bn for the full express tracks, but for some reason I feel like theres lots of constituencies who will want their hands in the Midway privatization money, some of whom probably also deserve investment. The PB report gave 2 options, but there may also be a middle ground; by figuring the monetary value of each minute of travel time savings per customer, you could make a reasonable calculation of what the optimum level express trackage (i.e. reduction in travel time) is, given that the capital cost for decreasing the travel time goes up almost exponentially. Somewhere, there's a sweet spot between potential revenue (fares*riders) and the amount invested in the infrastructure.

2 more thoughts:
1) I'm not sure what sort of figures they are throwing around for the Midway privatization, which would obviously influences the sorts of potential projects. The city has, of course, not given any hint of projects that the money would go towards, but since Airport Express is Daley's baby, with the downtown station useless without some sort of further major investment, I would think it somewhat logical that some of the money would be thrown that way.

2) tying pack to the previous conversation, another idea would be to have the brown line extension join the outer express tracks from Jeff Park to O'hare (which would be running in the expanded median anyway) to have an actual 4-track line for that portion, providing a one seat ride to the airport for north siders. An intriguing thing here would be, if the Brown extension were a new start, you could -potentially- build the express tracks for that portion as part of the New Start. Hmm. Of course by the time any New Start was completed 15+ years from now, that downtown station will have gathered quite a bit of dust.

pip Jun 7, 2007 3:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2881633)
^along a similar train of thought, the City might have a bonanza (like, billion$) of cash from the privatization of Midway, much of which would be directed to transportation and other infrastructure projects. I haven't heard any speculation or commitments over specific projects the money would go towards.

My money (har-har) would be on the Airport Express project, i.e. paying for an O'hare line revamp and construction of passing tracks and airport terminal facilities. If there's any left, I would hope it would go towards rehabing the North end of the Red Line. IMHO, local money should, for now, be focused on either revenue-positive projects (Airport Express) or on rehabbing the crumbling infrastructure (O'hare and Howard branches), as opposed to line extensions which qualify for New Starts.

I had heard on the news a while ago that the money would be used to shore up Chicago's pension funds for city worker retirees. The City of Chicago's pensions are underfunded by around 9 billion dollars I believe. The Midway money would help prevent the city from issuing billions in bonds to cover the pensions.

Mr Downtown Jun 8, 2007 3:09 PM

I wonder if Daley could figure out some way to finance Airport Express with PFCs. New York, of course, had to build the JFK AirTrain as incompatible technology to comply with federal law on using PFCs for offsite improvements.

Wright Concept Jun 8, 2007 3:40 PM

I thought JFK-Airtrain had clearances (10' wide trains) and guideway strengths that could allow for LIRR to utilize the tracks with just an additional connection between them.

ardecila Jun 8, 2007 4:03 PM

Just a word to the wise, Mr. Downtown... I had no idea what a PFC was until I Wiki'd it. Anyway, I don't think we should levy even MORE taxes on the passengers at O'Hare, considering they're already paying handsomely to support the expansion. Perhaps after the airport is done....

MayorOfChicago Jun 8, 2007 9:04 PM

Haha, I was just randomly reading those posts on city-data or whatever. Some dumbass was posting "how could anyone move to a huge city like Chicago when it has such a horrible mass transit system. it's run down and you can't go anywhere. why would anyone live in the suburbs and want to work downtown, that commute must be a horrible drive with those small expressways"

The sad part was naive people who are moving to Chicago all believed him and were asking how long it takes for people to drive downtown to work each day. What the hell? Metra is unbeatable anywhere in this country save New York.

brian_b Jun 9, 2007 12:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 2870495)
http://movingbeyondcongestion.org/

Strong Bipartisan Support for RTA Reforms, Transit Funding

$452-million proposal approved for transit operations, General Assembly to consider pension reforms, capital investment in overtime session

Springfield, IL – An overwhelming majority of the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee approved a $452-million transit operations funding proposal and a package of reforms to improve coordination and efficiency in the transit system.

“Today’s strong, bi-partisan vote reflects the shared belief in the importance of our transit system and the need to invest in it,” noted Jim Reilly, Chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority. “We are very encouraged that the General Assembly recognizes the vital role transit plays in our region and that funding for the system must be addressed this session.”

The Illinois Mass Transit Committee approved two amendments to Senate Bill 572 that would provide funding for transit operations and reform the roles of the RTA and the Service Boards – CTA, Metra and Pace. The funding proposal would:

Increase the RTA sales tax in the six counties of northeastern Illinois by 0.25%, yielding approximately $280 million;


Impose a new RTA real estate transfer tax in the City of Chicago to raise $42 million;


Extend the standard state 25% match to the proposed sales and transfer tax to provide $80.5 million;


Continue the support of transit service for the disabled and elderly by instituting an additional state match of 5%, raising $50 million


The committee approved the measure 13-4 with strong bipartisan support from both City of Chicago and suburban members.

“Without funding, the millions of people who rely on transit every day will face drastic service cuts and higher fares,” noted RTA Executive Director Steve Schlickman. “Today members of the Mass Transit Committee have loudly voiced their support for additional funding for the system.”

FYI, the final action deadline has been extended once again. It's now June 15. CALL YOUR SENATORS and get this bill passed! If it keeps getting pushed out it's going to eventually get pushed aside!

nomarandlee Jun 9, 2007 5:40 AM

Fareless CTA - Tribune Commentary
 
Not a new idea, but interesting to think about...

http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news...e_a_bette.html

Originally posted: June 7, 2007

No fare! A better idea than $3.25 rides on the CTA

CTA president Ron Huberman has been saying that unless state funding comes through to help the transit agency plug a $110 million budget deficit, fares may have to rise to $3.25 during peak periods.

I'd like nothing better.

Nothing as in free -- no charge to ride the buses and trains. Throw the fareboxes, turnstiles and card-machines into the landfill. Make every day New Year's Eve (when rides are free).

A radical idea? You bet. CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said that about half of the CTA's roughly billion dollar annual budget comes from fares, so lawmakers would have to raise taxes and fees significantly to cover the shortfall.

A new idea? No. According to our news archives, in the fall of 1991, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) proposed just such a plan to be financed by a "a small, insignificant income tax."

"If public transportation is available to all the residents of the metropolitan Chicagoland area, then why should not the cost of such a system come from income earned in the metropolitan area and all fares be free?" Stone asked.

No one ever really answered Stone's question, though Gaffney says someone or other raises the idea at nearly every CTA public meeting.

In March, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said today that he has asked the Municipal Transportation Agency to look into the possibility of providing fare-free public transit in the city.

He told The Chronicle that when all the costs associated with collecting the fares are factored in, the idea of letting people board for free may not be a big financial stretch.

(Update -- San Francisco MTA spokeswoman Maggie Lynch told me Friday afternoon that her agency's investigation into the idea is being done by the finance department and there is not yet even an interim report to cite)

Today, the New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly reported that, in an interview on transit issues this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg--

allowed himself to imagine an ideal that is not likely ever to come to pass: "I would have mass transit be given away for nothing and charge an awful lot for bringing an automobile into the city," he said.

An impossible idea? Again, no. Free Public Transit, an organization devoted to, well, you know, lists seven success stories, though all in far smaller markets than ours.

People who really know the transit business would have to crunch the numbers and do the analysis, but on the back of my envelope it says:

Advantages of free public transportation:

-It would make Chicago a more attractive city to visit and to operate a business.
-Because of vastly increased ridership, there would be more buses and more trains running more often and along more routes, making the CTA a more efficient and attractive transportation option.
-It would reduce traffic congestion and pollution
-It would reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
-It would allow the CTA to divert resources now spent on enforcing, collecting and accounting for fares into such areas as enforcing platform, bus and train safety.
-It would be of the greatest advantage to those who are currently disadvantaged -- low-income workers who now pay fares and have lengthy commutes on public transportation.

Like education, police and fire protection, and access to roads, transportation is a basic essential of life that government should provide.

Disadvantages of free public transportation:

-It would cause economic harm to taxi drivers, parking lot owners and the automotive and petroleum industries.
-Half a billion dollars (probably more given the transition costs and the increased equipment and maintenance costs) ain't chump change.
-Without increased security and some sorts of restrictions, it might turn the CTA into more of a mobile homeless shelter than it is now.
-It isn't the way we've always done it!

What else, pro and con?


ON THE WEB --

Public transportation should be free -- an online public forum at helium.com
San Franciscans debate/analyze the issue online
Auto-Free New York
Fare-Free Mass Transit: A Case Study of What Is Now, and What Can Be In Any Large Metropolitan Region of the USA .pdf file -- by California State Univeristy at Long Beach math professor John Bachar)
Towns and cities with zero-fare transport (Wikipedia)
"Be Careful What You Wish For" --Jocelyn Geboy of Chicagoist on the CTA's threatened fare hikes.
Not to logroll overmuch, but Geboy's new post referencing my post on this topic that referenced her post has a good discussion going in comments.

alex1 Jun 9, 2007 9:36 AM

^
Zorn is one of my favorite writers. One of the few guys that doesn't dribble the constant political decree set forth by and from politicians.


I'm all for free public transit but doing so will need to be coupled with dismantling the toll system IMO. I don't see how you gain political capital without doing both at the same time.

the bane of our region is how it's developed in the past 50 years. If we would have gotten more high-dense suburbia then, it would have led to better transit service regionwide with governments that wanted to increase transit options to their towns vs. fighting against it.

we're paying the price for our development patterns and will continue to do so even if the region recalculates the funding formula.

ardecila Jun 10, 2007 4:35 PM

I agree, but steps CAN be taken in the suburbs to link office and transit nodes (basically historic downtowns and office parks) with bus service, and we CAN improve service in the city.

Mister Uptempo Jun 10, 2007 8:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 2888640)
I agree, but steps CAN be taken in the suburbs to link office and transit nodes (basically historic downtowns and office parks) with bus service, and we CAN improve service in the city.

Now, this is the argument that I posed in a prior thread, regarding charging people to use the expressways.

I stated that if I were to be charged to drive on an expressway, in order to discourage that type of behavior, in favor of taking public transit, that the level of transit service in suburbs would have to increase, in order to provide a viable alternative to driving. I was politely, and in some cases not so politely, told that public transit in the suburbs is not workable and too expensive.

But what you are proposing is precisely what I was suggesting. Link any existing transit facilities (in the case of most suburbs, that's Metra) to major work-related and commercial sites within that town. In so doing, provide stops along the way which can be accessed by residents to the work/commercial sites and/or the Metra facility.

If the STAR line ever gets built, and gets built to its fullest extent, the possibilities for people using public transit in the suburbs multiply substantially, especially if service is available from the Metra facility to work, commercial, and entertainment venues.

I would imagine that many suburbs would be willing to throw a healthy portion of the required capital to establish that kind of service if they could be convinced that it would help prospects for further economic development. Could a major employer be convinced to move to a particular town if that town had reliable transit for its employees? I believe it is.

ardecila Jun 11, 2007 1:34 AM

I agree... also, major office parks near the STAR Line can and should provide shuttle service from the STAR stations to the office buildings, making rounds. Ideally, the shuttle would sync with the train arrivals/departures to reduce the wait time at the stations.

Out here in Barrington, Pace currently provides a shuttle bus linking the Barrington Metra station with the Prairie Stone office park, a major employment center. It's a fairly well-used bus, serving the reverse commuters who live in the city, or further up the UP-NW line.

Unfortunately, I don't see ANY way to provide reliable transit service to suburban residential areas. Even office parks are somewhat centralized and often include large towers, but subdivisions have such a low density that they realistically cannot be served, so any transit trip for residents in such areas would have to include at least a short auto trip to get to the nearest Metra station.

Mister Uptempo Jun 11, 2007 3:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 2889296)
I agree... also, major office parks near the STAR Line can and should provide shuttle service from the STAR stations to the office buildings, making rounds. Ideally, the shuttle would sync with the train arrivals/departures to reduce the wait time at the stations.

Out here in Barrington, Pace currently provides a shuttle bus linking the Barrington Metra station with the Prairie Stone office park, a major employment center. It's a fairly well-used bus, serving the reverse commuters who live in the city, or further up the UP-NW line.

Unfortunately, I don't see ANY way to provide reliable transit service to suburban residential areas. Even office parks are somewhat centralized and often include large towers, but subdivisions have such a low density that they realistically cannot be served, so any transit trip for residents in such areas would have to include at least a short auto trip to get to the nearest Metra station.

Understood. And I certainly think that taking your car to the nearest Metra station is far more palatable than having that same car choking up the expressways.

Besides, the local municipality makes money from the parking spots, anyway. I know in Tinley Park, where I live, the 80th Ave. Metra station alone has a little over 2,000 parking spaces, if I remember correctly. On any given weekday, all but maybe 100 or so spots are being used. So, at $1.00 per spot per day, the typical Monday-Friday revenues are $10,000 per week. I don't know if those monies are divided up with anyone else.

I agree that one can not expect door-to-door public transit, but if buses were to run from the two Metra stations in my town to the larger concentrations of employment and commercial development, they would need to traverse main thoroughfares like Oak Park Ave., Harlem Ave., 80th Ave., Lagrange Rd., 159th St., 171st St., 183rd St., etc. By using these main roads, they would, at the same time, provide transit options for its citizens. Suburbs that share these thoroughfares could also share in the cost of the routes, lowering costs for each town and extending the reach of the routes.

It would, by no means, be a totally comprehensive system. But it could alleviate enough car traffic to have an impact. Enough people live close enough to those main roads that a bus would be a walk of 1/2 mile or less away. As it is, when I use the Metra station in old downtown, it's a 1 1/2 mile walk. Parking there is by permit only, and there is a multi-year wait list. If I knew that I could save time by only walking 1/3 as far as I do now, I would be thrilled.

Eventually...Chicago Jun 11, 2007 1:20 PM

Most of the transit ideas that are proposed here are pretty good ideas. Solid, logical solutions. Unfortunately, i just don't know how any real transit legislation that provides the necessary amount of investment can get passed.

I have been reading kevin lynch's "good city form" book (which i recommend reading the first 7-8 chapters and then the appendices, skip a lot of the middle stuff) and one of his main points about public infrastructure is that although everyone needs it, no one feels like the have to pay for it. Until we can convince billy bob in southern illinois that having a good transit system in chicago benefits him (which it does) I have a feeling that it is going to more of the same budget crisis crap.

Also, i don't know if anybody came across this nugget. I can't remember where i read it, but if you google "opec to raise gas prices" or something like that, you can find these articles. Essentially, OPEC is threatening that if we (The US) keep investing money in alternative fuels, they will cut production to raise gas prices. I can't help but think "Great!". This seems like a pretty stupid move by OPEC. As if the environmental incentive for alternative energy sources wasn't good enough, OPEC is giving us an economic one (which is the best kind of incentive). The only thing that worries me is that OPEC is counting on the political backlash of raised gas prices to force divestment oil alternatives. Either way, I share the sentiment that high gas prices are better for mass transit. All sprawl in the US is predicated on the car trip being a common and inexpensive task, once that changes...

museumparktom Jun 11, 2007 4:04 PM

11th Steet Metra Station
 
Work is actually beginning. Small boring rig on site to rebuild the Roosevelt Road Metra Station. The new station will be incorporated into the new 11th Steet bridge.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l2...6/DSC_0283.jpg

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l2...6/DSC_0260.jpg

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l2...DSC_0261-1.jpg

VivaLFuego Jun 11, 2007 5:30 PM

Does Blago really have the cojones to veto a regional-only sales tax hike to increase the RTA's operating funds? (sounds like a .25% increase in each of the 6 counties, so Cook would go up to 1.25% for transit and the collars would go up to .5%)

j korzeniowski Jun 11, 2007 5:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2890244)
Does Blago really have the cojones to veto a regional-only sales tax hike to increase the RTA's operating funds? (sounds like a .25% increase in each of the 6 counties, so Cook would go up to 1.25% for transit and the collars would go up to .5%)

good question. i saw that late last week, and i read how his admin vowed to veto any such measure. i just could not believe it.

with all chicago has going for it, if this admin and state allows this fare hike to happen, i will be sick. chicago needs money for repairs, sure, but we have the infrastructure there (imagine a city trying to build it from scratch, and what that would cost), and it is a mong a few american cities with good (for the u.s.) coverage. i don't know, i could go on, but it is so damn frustrating.

what do you think, vival', will the cta at least get the ~$97.5 million budget shortfall covered?

j korzeniowski Jun 13, 2007 5:59 PM

CTA leaders meeting with Blagojevich

Quote:

(Crain’s) — The Chicago Transit Authority’s top two officials are meeting with Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday in Springfield, providing a ray of hope for what’s been an otherwise bleak outlook for transit funding.

Sources close to the governor say he has no new proposals for raising the $100 million. Rather, he is using the CTA’s funding woes
as leverage to persuade legislators to buy into his plan to raise business taxes in order to funnel more state money toward health care and education. Gov. Blagojevich would then earmark some of that cash to bail out the CTA.

Gov. Blagojevich remains opposed to the Regional Transportation Authority’s plan to raise money for transit, the sources say.
That plan calls for an increase in sales taxes in the six-county Chicago region, plus an increase on the real estate transfer tax in Chicago.

Because Ms. Brown and Mr. Huberman are traveling Wednesday to Springfield, the CTA’s board delayed voting on a measure that would approve Mr. Huberman’s plan of fare hikes and service cuts. That plan would raise rail fares to $3.25 during peak hours and suspend service on 63 bus routes, plus the Yellow Line and Purple Line Express.
LINK

j korzeniowski Jun 13, 2007 6:10 PM

Lots of action in Springfield today RE the CTA. Unfortunately, Metra and Pace have been left out (I would love to see a more integrated Metra and CTA, but I am not anyone here wouldn't)

CTA fight heads to Springfield


By Jon Hilkevitch

Tribune transportation reporter
Published June 13, 2007, 10:17 AM CDT


The CTA board postponed a scheduled vote on a contingency doomsday plan of service cuts and fare increases after top officials headed to Springfield to discuss the funding shortfall facing mass transit in the Chicago area.

I had not seen this:

Quote:

Sources said the governor has told legislative leaders that he will veto any transit funding proposal that provides less than $100 million to the CTA.
(In another article, I believe I read the governor would veto any budget that did not include $100million for the CTA.)


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