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nomarandlee Oct 20, 2006 6:24 AM

CTA machine to be installed in Metra station
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0610190188oct19,1,1654233.story?coll=chi-news-hed

CTA machine to be installed in Metra station

Published October 19, 2006


A CTA transit card vending machine will be installed at Metra's LaSalle Street station to accommodate commuters who use both Metra and the CTA.

The CTA board approved the agreement with Metra on Wednesday. The transit card machine will be installed by the end of the year at the station, 414 S. LaSalle, which serves Metra's Rock Island District Line.

A CTA transit card vending machine and a visitor pass vending machine were installed near the Metra ticket counter at Union Station this year. CTA card vending machines will eventually be placed inside all downtown Metra stations, officials said.

The CTA board Wednesday also approved a six-month experiment to combine two bus routes, the No. 37 Sedgwick and the No. 11 Lincoln, which parallel each other along portions of the routes.

The new No. 11 Lincoln/Sedgwick route will begin operating in December, offering extended service north of Fullerton Avenue for current No. 37 Sedgwick riders and extended service south of North Avenue during peak hours for current No. 11 Lincoln riders, the CTA said.

The CTA will review the change and solicit reaction from riders before deciding whether to make it permanent, officials said.



Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

jpIllInoIs Oct 20, 2006 2:07 PM

A CTA transit card vending machine and a visitor pass vending machine were installed near the Metra ticket counter at Union Station this year. CTA card vending machines will eventually be placed inside all downtown Metra stations, officials said."

Year 2006 this should not be news, but such is the state of transit cooperation. At least it is happening now :rolleyes:

VivaLFuego Oct 20, 2006 3:25 PM

^ RTA's #2 mission right now (with #1 being to secure more transit funding), should be increased cooperation and integration between the 3 agencies.

Marcu Oct 20, 2006 5:46 PM

2-year closing of Red Line station looms

Tribune staff reports
Published October 19, 2006, 8:46 PM CDT


The Washington station on the CTA Red Line and the pedestrian transfer tunnel between the Red and Blue Lines will close Monday for two years of construction, transit officials reminded commuters on Thursday.

The Washington/Madison mezzanine, which is used to reach the station and its four street-level entrances, also will close, the CTA said.

Customers can enter the State Street subway using the Lake station, one block north of Washington, or the Monroe station, a block south of Washington.

The construction project involves building tunnels connecting the Red and Blue Line subway tracks. The tunnels will help improve rail service by increasing options to coordinate train traffic in both subway systems, officials said.

The Washington stop and all other stops on the Blue Line will remain open.

Red Line trains will continue normal operations through the State Street subway with the exception of bypassing the Washington station.

Trains will continue to stop at the North/Clybourn, Clark/Division, Chicago, Grand, Lake, Monroe, Jackson, Harrison and Roosevelt subway stations.

Customers will continue to have access to free transfers between the Red and Blue Lines via the pedestrian transfer tunnel at the Jackson station, just south of Washington.

Construction crews will build two short connecting tunnels and tracks that will link the existing Red and Blue Line subway tunnels and the new transit "super station" planned for Block 37, at 108 N. State St.

Wright Concept Oct 20, 2006 6:03 PM

Damn, that's a shame they couldn't revise that Superstation idea for Washington/State and replace a couple of the Loop stations at State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and combine it with this to do it all at once.
BTW, What ever happended to that proposal?

VivaLFuego Oct 20, 2006 6:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PracticalVisionary
Damn, that's a shame they couldn't revise that Superstation idea for Washington/State and replace a couple of the Loop stations at State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and combine it with this to do it all at once.
BTW, What ever happended to that proposal?

I believe both are in the design stage, and are joint City/CTA projects. Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash will be removed and replaced with one station at Washington/Wabash. Not sure about any details of State/Lake, but I hope there is some real integration and a direct connection to the subway station underneath.

pottebaum Oct 21, 2006 3:00 AM

I'm not sure how many times it has been mentioned here already, but the CTA audit is due out next month. It'll definitely influence how much money the agency gets from the state.

Taft Oct 23, 2006 2:12 PM

Trib article on Canal street mess
 
Jon Hilkevitch
Mega traffic woes hit Canal
Union Station area a hub of congestion

Published October 23, 2006

The streets surrounding Union Station mark the transportation hub of downtown Chicago, and they are long overdue for a traffic makeover that city officials now are considering.

Canal Street between Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard is the nexus of downtown commuting activities anchored by Metra, Amtrak and Chicago Transit Authority buses, serving more than 200,000 travelers daily. It is the place where several city agencies are studying a re-engineering of traffic patterns to ease congestion and improve safety.

Entrances to the sprawling Union Station complex, a magnet for foot traffic, are on both sides of the street on the one-block section of Canal. Many pedestrians can recite personal horror stories about close calls with vehicles during frenzied rush periods.

A busy CTA bus stop, where 286 buses operating daily on several routes not only pick up and unload passengers but often dwell for extended periods, occupies the entire curb space on the west side of Canal along with a CTA buses-only passing lane.

On the east side of Canal is a cabstand that was relocated there for security reasons after the 9/11 attacks from its former place on the underground circulating drive inside Union Station. The mix of taxis and bus stands on the east side of Canal has proved to be an extremely poor--and often dangerous--fit.

Taxi drivers dropping off or picking up riders weave in and out of the cabstand. They compete for space against CTA buses, private buses shuttling Metra commuters from Union Station to their jobs in the Illinois Center and other major office buildings and the Amtrak-commissioned intercity buses that all dock on the east side of Canal.

"We have a lot of different uses for one block and we recognize there is a broader issue that needs to be addressed," said Rich Hazlett, coordinating planner in the Chicago Department of Transportation.



Mega traffic woes

The already bad traffic situation reached the tipping point in April when Megabus, a super-low-cost bus company, joined the fray on the east side of Canal. Megabus serves eight Midwestern cities daily from its Chicago hub along the public bus-staging area on the east side of Canal.

"Even though most Megabus departures are in the off-peak period, traffic volumes exceed the capacity of that curb space far too often," said CDOT spokesman Brian Steele. "Everyone recognizes the status quo is not acceptable."

The city is considering changes in the use of the curb space at Union Station and alsois reviewing possible modifications in the street meter parking in the area, Hazlett said.

Alternative locations for Megabus are under review, Hazlett said. They include moving the Megabus staging point to the existing CTA bus lane on the west side of Canal; north of Adams on the east side of Canal; and south of Jackson on the east side of Canal.

The CTA is concerned because any changes could involve moving some current CTA bus stops on the east side of Canal.

"We have a limited amount of curb space and we have already made adjustments in our schedules to meet the capacity constraints of the terminal," said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

Up to 20 Megabuses operate daily from the current spot on the east side of Canal between Adams and Jackson. Only one Megabus at a time is supposed to occupy the bus stand, under an agreement between Megabus and the city, officials said.

But sometimes two Megabuses are present if the runs are off schedule, occupying the curb and the adjacent traffic lane and tightening the traffic knot. The buses are supposed to get in and get out quickly, but the loading and unloading of bags and passengers often prevent timely turnarounds.

Amtrak, the owner of Union Station, was first to cry foul. The emergence of Megabus, which offers a $1 fare to at least one passenger on each bus, potentially threatened to take away passengers from Amtrak, although the passenger railroad contends that its fares and service attract different travelers.

Greyhound Bus Lines, which operates its downtown station several blocks away at 630 W. Harrison St., also has reacted to the Megabus foray. Greyhound has been handing out leaflets advertising its services to people waiting at the Megabus stop.

Megabus officials say they are working with the city, Amtrak and the CTA to come up with a solution, but they said the problems on Canal predated Megabus' arrival.



Crunched for space

"The area around Union Station is where we want to be," said Don Carmichael, senior vice president of operations at Coach USA, which owns Megabus. "Our rollout in Chicago has been very successful."

Adding injury to insult for Amtrak, Megabus customers have been camping out inside Union Station while waiting for their buses. To keep overhead operating costs low, Megabus neither owns nor operates station facilities in any of the nine cities it serves.

"Getting in the door of Union Station was like salmon trying to swim upstream," said Amtrak passenger David Johnson, assistant director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, describing the scene Thursday morning.

Union Station is a public place open to anyone who transacts business there, whether boarding Metra or Amtrak trains or making purchases in the food court or stores.

But Amtrak responded to the Megabus invasion by instructing Amtrak police to shoo Megabus passengers waiting for buses in the vestibule area out onto the sidewalk on the east side of Canal, where most Amtrak passengers enter and exit the station, which also houses an office building known as 222 S. Riverside. Signs have been posted telling Megabus passengers to wait outside the building.

"Unfortunately, the passengers of this bus operator have been misled to believe it has an indoor facility for its customers in Chicago," said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. "We have no business relationship with this company.

"The vestibule must be kept open for the flow of passengers to and from the station, and it is the primary point for emergency medical response to the building. It is not a waiting area," Magliari added.

Some visitors to Chicago are receiving a bad impression as a result of the traffic headaches and the dispute between Amtrak and Megabus.

Bill Stern, an attorney from West Bloomfield, Mich., and his family were stranded outside Union Station for 2 1/2 hours Oct. 15 because their Megabus to Detroit did not show up, he said.

Family members included grandparents, aunts and uncles, and the situation "got a little crazy," Stern said.

"The old guys needed to use the restroom during the long wait, but the police hassled the Megabus customers, telling us to go outside and get out of the way," Stern said.

"I wish the police instead went after the bums who were taking people's luggage and extorting `tips' from them for carrying their bags a few feet," Stern said.

----------

Contact Getting Around at jhilkevitch@tribune.com or c/o the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Read recent columns at www.chicagotribune.com/gettingaround.

Marcu Oct 23, 2006 3:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pottebaum
I'm not sure how many times it has been mentioned here already, but the CTA audit is due out next month. It'll definitely influence how much money the agency gets from the state.

Do you know who's doing the audit?

VivaLFuego Oct 23, 2006 3:39 PM

Prediction: The Audit will find that given its constraints (labor unions, low subsidy level), CTA is one of the most efficiently-run major transit operations in the country from a cost perspective. CTA has done a poor job of telling people how much good transit costs. A comparison of operating budgets between Chicago and any other major US city (NYC, Boston, LA, for example) shows how pathetic the Chicago area's contribution to transit funding is.

Taft Oct 23, 2006 4:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Prediction: The Audit will find that given its constraints (labor unions, low subsidy level), CTA is one of the most efficiently-run major transit operations in the country from a cost perspective. CTA has done a poor job of telling people how much good transit costs. A comparison of operating budgets between Chicago and any other major US city (NYC, Boston, LA, for example) shows how pathetic the Chicago area's contribution to transit funding is.

Organizations like the Campaign for Better Transit (http://www.bettertransit.com/) still lambast the CTA, no matter how they perform. Not that I disagree with all of their goals. Getting the CTA to be more transparent can only benefit everyone involved. However, a lot of their goals revolve around unrealistic expectations like the expectation of equal service levels on poorly performing routes.

At any rate, I agree with you: the CTA really gets shafted in terms of commitment from the city and state. The whole suburb vs. city battle doesn't help either, with the RTA getting bogged down by infighting.

Taft

the urban politician Oct 25, 2006 3:19 PM

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=22572
Oct. 24, 2006

Amtrak’s Illinois expansion derailed
Canadian National Railway withholding use of its tracks for some routes
(AP) — It appeared all was lined up for an expansion next week of Amtrak service in Illinois, from Chicago to the far southern reaches of the state and elsewhere. But that's no longer the case.

Now virtually the entire state's congressional delegation, led by Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, is crying foul and accusing the Canadian National Railway Co. of violating an agreement with Amtrak.

"We were notified last week that CN will no longer agree to allow one of the additional roundtrips to St. Louis via Joliet, is threatening to withhold access to the Carbondale route, and may seek to terminate all of the newly added trains in Illinois after just one year," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the company, saying that would violate CN-Amtrak's deal.

The improved Amtrak service was to be made possible in part by a bigger state subsidy, with the Illinois General Assembly doubling the amount to $24 million this year.

Advertisement





Related Article Topics | Related Industry News
The money was intended to support seven round-trip trains from Chicago to St. Louis, Carbondale and Quincy, up from three trains now.

Durbin spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the senator's office was notified by officials with Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation last Friday about the plans of the Canadian railway, based in Montreal, Quebec.

A receptionist at the company's Canadian office directed a reporter seeking CN comment to its spokesman for operations in the United States, who was not immediately available at his office Tuesday.

In their letter, the lawmakers said that they hope that CN and Amtrak can resolve the matter before Oct. 30, when new service was scheduled to start.

"If this issue is not resolved by then, we request that you meet with us in Washington to discuss this issue the week of November 13th," they said, referring to when Congress reconvenes for its lame-duck session after the Nov. 7. election.

Nearly 1 million passengers used Amtrak lines subsidized by the state last year, a 12.5 percent increase that reached a new record for total passengers.

jpIllInoIs Oct 25, 2006 5:22 PM

^ I saw that too,

It seems as though US transit initiatives are going to be held hostage to non-US conglomerates. More of these conflicts could arise as cities and states begin to sell off their hard assets to raise instant cash, ie Chicago Skyway, Illinois tollway, Indiana tollway, Midway Airport.

Busy Bee Oct 25, 2006 6:01 PM

This is never going to end until the company that RUNS the passenger train OWNS the tracks it's running on. End of story.

the urban politician Oct 27, 2006 4:55 PM

Whew!
 
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=22630
Oct. 27, 2006

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Amtrak expansion in Illinois to proceed
Agreement reached with Canadian National
(AP) — Amtrak's increased service in Illinois will go ahead as planned after the company reached an agreement with Canadian National Railway Co., Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday.

The companies reached an agreement late Thursday that, starting Monday, allows Amtrak access along CN's routes that begin in Chicago and end in St. Louis and Carbondale, Durbin said.

Durbin, the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, said Thursday that he was prepared to flex federal legislative muscle if CN hadn't made good on a July agreement that granted Amtrak access along routes to meet growing ridership demand.

"If we had not reached this agreement I'm afraid we would have been headed to court today," Durbin said at a news conference at Springfield's train station.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Durbin said rail officials would re-evaluate the situation in a year to see if the Amtrak trains interfered with freight traffic. If they did, the companies could readjust the train schedule.

"Canadian National had to live up to their agreement and Amtrak and the state of Illinois had to be a little sensitive to their business concerns," Durbin said.

Federal lawmakers from Illinois said they learned last week that CN no longer agreed to one of the additional roundtrips to St. Louis via Joliet, was threatening to withhold access to the Carbondale route, and could seek to terminate all the newly added trains in Illinois after just one year.

Nearly 1 million passengers used Amtrak lines subsidized by the state last year, a 12.5% increase that reached a new record for total passengers.

museumparktom Oct 29, 2006 3:13 AM

Roosevelt Road Metra Station
 
I noticed 2 crews working on putting down a new track just north of the 11th street bridge today. Could this be the realignment of the tracks in preperation of a new Metra station at the 11th street bridge and the tearing down of the Roosevelt Road shanty? I think I read that the funds had been released to Metra in August but I didn't think any work was going to start until next March 2007. Any one know whats up?

zilfondel Oct 29, 2006 7:48 AM

Way to go, Canada! Fight the good fight... Canadian politicans and companies probably paid millions of dollars to CN to help keep America hooked on its oil addiction... just waiting to line up those oil sands in Alberta for US consumption!

Those trains gave me a good fright there. Glad someone stepped in... now, please pass the Hummer!

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
Terms of the deal were not disclosed...

Of course they won't be disclosed. Unfortunately, it appears my first comment was too hasty - all of this new 'rail transit' is being shoved down our throats by greedy politicians. When will it ever end? ;)

ardecila Oct 31, 2006 5:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by museumparktom
I didn't think any work was going to start until next March 2007. Any one know whats up?

Could be just regular maintenance work.

spyguy Nov 4, 2006 5:17 AM

Never saw this until now
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/p...litics-utiltop

Transit woes are not going any place
Governor candidates tell how to improve area's transportation

By Rick Pearson

Tribune political reporter
Published September 25, 2006

High gasoline prices, increasing demand on mass transit and continued metropolitan growth that strains road and rail networks will increase pressure on the state's next governor to deal with travel congestion.

In responding to the third in a series of Tribune questionnaires on issues facing voters in the Nov. 7 election, the candidates for governor find themselves looking at transportation solutions not only for tomorrow, but far into the future.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich points the finger at Republican legislators for the failure of a $2.3 billion bond-funded road program that he contends would leverage an additional $1.5 billion in federal highway funds, and generate $425 million for mass transit, capturing another $1.7 billion in federal money.

"I had hoped that the General Assembly would accept this proposal. But it was struck down on partisan grounds," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich has not been able to pass a bond-funded construction plan during his tenure as governor, due largely to a legislative requirement in the state constitution that makes support from Republicans a prerequisite.

Republicans, however, have maintained that they do not believe the Democratic governor will back projects in GOP-dominated areas.

Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka, the three-term state treasurer, has proposed spending at least $2 billion on transportation as part of a revenue plan that is based on a land-based casino for Chicago and expanded gambling at current riverboat casinos. Blagojevich has labeled Topinka's plan a "gimmick."

"Illinois has not had a capital program in four years and now has huge capital needs. We have to move forward or risk losing federal dollars available to Illinois for infrastructure projects," Topinka said.

Green Party candidate Richard Whitney said highway funding should be focused on maintenance, repair and resurfacing, "not expanding our network of roads and highways to support an increasingly impractical form of transportation."

Instead, Whitney said more focus should be placed on "energy-efficient and environmentally friendly" forms of transportation, including rail, and "smarter urban planning that can make bicycle and pedestrian commutes more feasible."

Blagojevich maintained he has no interest in selling or leasing the tollway, noting his efforts to reduce tollway congestion by aiming to make Illinois the first state to feature "open-road tolling" systemwide.

Topinka opposes a tollway sale or lease, warning it would allow lawmakers to spend money without regard to the motorists who paid for the system.

Whitney said motorists would be the losers in such a deal through higher tolls and less public accountability.

As for the region's air-traffic issues, Whitney said he opposed both the multibillion-dollar expansion of O'Hare International Airport as well as plans for a third regional airport near Peotone.

"I believe that most of the support for the O'Hare expansion and/or south suburban airport is being generated by wealthy development interests who don't have the best interests of the people in mind," Whitney said.

Blagojevich said he backs the O'Hare and Peotone projects as well as expansion of regional airports, like the one in Rockford. "The modernization of O'Hare benefits the entire state of Illinois," Blagojevich said.

The governor acknowledged that disputes over the local political control of Peotone continue and "more needs to be done" to resolve differences to move the project forward.

Topinka said she would work with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in support of O'Hare modernization and would also bring together the political factions battling over control of a south suburban airport.

On the need for local improvements in mass transit, Blagojevich said he had approved increased dollars for the Regional Transportation Authority and said he would work for better "integration" of the Chicago region's transportation systems.

Topinka said she would work with the Chicago area's political and transit leadership on improved funding and said she believes more should be done for Downstate transit projects.

But, she said, "The State of Illinois has very serious financial problems, too, and the state's options are limited. I cannot make promises for more state support until this state's fiscal problems are under control."

Whitney said strong state support for the RTA, including funding to close an anticipated budget deficit and money for capital projects, was a higher priority than auto or air transportation projects. He also said the state needed to explore expansion of mass transit Downstate, and intercity train and light rail projects.

----------------------------

Responses from Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Responses from Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka

Responses from Green Party candidate Richard Whitney

Chicago Shawn Nov 4, 2006 6:48 PM

Although I disagree with him about O'hare, I think Whitney really understands the situation at hand. If only he made a stronger pitch for governer, he would actually have a good chance of winning.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TRANSPORTATION

Responses from Green Party candidate Richard Whitney

Published September 25, 2006


1. Please describe in detail your goals for a road construction program in Illinois. How large should it be? How do you plan to fund it? What particular projects do you think should be major priorities?

We need to focus our road construction projects on repair, maintenance and resurfacing - not expanding our network of roads and highways to support an increasingly impractical form of transportation.

Fluctuations aside, the price of petroleum will continue to rise. We need a major shift in our transportation priorities to favor more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as high-speed rail and light rail - as well as smarter urban planning that can make bicycle and pedestrian commutes more feasible. For even if bio-fueled, hydrogen-powered, or electric autos become practical, roads themselves are built with petroleum-based products and require the use of gas guzzling heavy machinery. That's one of the reasons why road construction costs rose 16 percent in the last year alone.

Rail is also a better job creator. A billion dollars spent on rail creates 7,000 more jobs than a billion dollars spent on roads.

2. Explain your position about the need for expanding O'Hare International Airport and plans for a third regional airport? If you support a south suburban airport, is Peotone the best location and how would you overcome the political impasse that exists over control of a new airport?

I do not support either the O'Hare expansion or a South suburban airport. To the extent that air traffic needs justify some additional capacity, I would favor an expansion at Rockford or Gary. More generally, rising fuel prices favor a shift away from air transit to more energy-efficient, and lower greenhouse-gas-emitting, high-speed rail - and certainly that's where State funding priorities should flow.

I believe that most of the support for the O'Hare expansion and/or South suburban airport is being generated by wealthy development interests who don't have the best interests of the people in mind. Granted, South Chicago is badly in need of new jobs. However, there are better ways of addressing that need than condemning farmers' and homeowners' land in Peotone, ruining their quiet way of life, and promoting more urban sprawl and congestion in the process.

3. If elected, would you propose the sale or lease of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority at any time during the next four years? Please explain your answer.

No. It is the obligation of the State to maintain our infrastructure. Privatization means placing our assets in the hands of private businesses that will be further insulated from public accountability, and that have a profit incentive to cut corners on costs, and/or raise fees (i.e., tolls), in order to ensure a satisfactory bottom line.

Granted, strict terms of contract can control some abuses. However, this entails using State resources to oversee and police the contract. While privatization advocates take it as an article of faith that this is more cost-effective, what really happens is that taxpayers (and tollpayers) get the worst of both worlds: They still have to pay for public bureaucratic overhead, and they are subsidizing a private profiteer that is not directly accountable to them.

4. The Regional Transportation Authority is warning that without a massive infusion of state support, service cuts and fare increases are likely. What are your plans for supporting mass transit?

For reasons stated above, mass transit would be a high priority for the Whitney administration: It is more energy efficient, less polluting and less greenhouse-gas emitting than auto or air transit. I believe that it would be appropriate for the State to provide financial assistance to the RTA to help it close its over $100 million operating deficit, as well as a new capital funding. We also need to expand mass transit downstate, beginning with feasibility studies for new intercity rail corridors (e.g., serving Peoria and Decatur) as well as regional light rail (e.g., Marion-Carbondale area).

5. What is your plan to lower gas prices?

The State of Illinois has no real power to lower gas prices. The causes of high gas prices are the end of the era of cheap oil and, more immediately, price-gouging by the oil monopolies. Other than asking our Attorney General to look into an anti-trust action against the oil monopolies, there is nothing the State can do. Yes, we could cut the gas tax - but that would only address a small percentage of the problem - and it would cost us revenues needed to help maintain our roadways. We can and should push for higher fuel economy standards in Illinois, as in California. But the only real solution is to support and develop real transportation alternatives to the gas-powered automobile.


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