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OhioGuy Feb 21, 2008 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 3370243)
I felt bad for the people coming back from Midway. There were 8 of them, the only people on the car, and they were all coming into Chicago with huge suitcases and staying downtown. It was their first trip to the city, and they were very excited - which was entertaining to watch.

Well first we leave Midway and they're all babbling how close together the houses are, how thin they are, how tall they are, and how long they are. They thought it was really cool. Then. We get to the 80% of the trip that goes through rundown industrial areas. They were all amazed and talking nonstop how ugly and industrial the area was. The scattered houses, railways, factories, smokestacks. I mean I live here, so I know it's just an industrial area of the city. You could tell that in their minds THIS was Chicago.

I fear this type of experience for some of the IOC members that potentially visit the city over the next year & a half, though on the green line instead of the orange line. A ride south from downtown to Washington Park goes through some pretty ugly areas and I just wonder what their reactions will be, particularly when we're proposing to have the Olympic Stadium in a location that basically requires attendees to go through such a blighted area. I swear if you didn't know better, you'd think you were riding the green line through Gary, what with the shape some of the buildings are in and the amount of vacant abandoned land in & around the green line.

UChicagoDomer Feb 22, 2008 2:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3367571)
over the years the street design concerns have been made with only driver in mind, and not buses/pedestrians (most of these streets once had raised island boarding areas for streetcars, wider sidewalks, etc.)

see, e.g. that hideous stretch of North Avenue near Clybourne where the pittance of a sidewalk devoted to pedestrians suffices for about two or at most three people abreast. its particularly jarring to watch the bicyclists brave the traffic on North (and a good number of them do, even in winter). i'm surprised the "bike lobby" (http://www.biketraffic.org/) hasn't bitched to alleged bike advocate Daley about some of these streets. If the streets are going to suck for pedestrians they could at least be improved for bikers.

Abner Feb 22, 2008 2:24 AM

That's nothing. Just imagine how hideous the Mid-City Transitway would be, connecting O'Hare and Midway to all the other transit lines!

Chicago3rd Feb 22, 2008 4:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 3370243)
^ I agree with the poor land use. I was bored yesterday at work and actually jumped on the Orange Line by my office and rode it to Midway and back, just to listen to music and kill an hour.

I felt bad for the people coming back from Midway. There were 8 of them, the only people on the car, and they were all coming into Chicago with huge suitcases and staying downtown. It was their first trip to the city, and they were very excited - which was entertaining to watch.

Well first we leave Midway and they're all babbling how close together the houses are, how thin they are, how tall they are, and how long they are. They thought it was really cool. Then. We get to the 80% of the trip that goes through rundown industrial areas. They were all amazed and talking nonstop how ugly and industrial the area was. The scattered houses, railways, factories, smokestacks. I mean I live here, so I know it's just an industrial area of the city. You could tell that in their minds THIS was Chicago. It obviously got better once we arrived at Halsted. But that ride in from Midway is quite misleading. I'm not sure how the riders get to the train, I'm guessing buses? It would have been nice had their been more residential areas the Orange Line could have served directly...

I understand why it went where it did though....just too bad it had to work out that way. Think how the Brown Line is such a part of those neighborhoods, and so many thousands of people can just walk down the street and hop on the train (like me).

I transfered here sight unseen in 1997 from San Francisco for a 2 year stay and as the Orange line made the trip to the loop I thought the same thing...what the hell am I doing here! I can't make it 2 years. 11 years later I am so in love with this city.

nomarandlee Feb 22, 2008 8:05 AM

Blue Line extension
 
The whole article is postedsince its got a lof of information and details I at least don't know about and I don't really want to slice it. If someone insist on editing it then I can do it or a mod can...

Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,5831660.story

Cook-DuPage corridor project would extend Blue Line
RTA to begin public hearings next month on highly conceptual plan
By Richard Wronski | Tribune reporter
11:34 PM CST, February 21, 2008

An ambitious but highly conceptual plan to greatly expand commuter rail and bus service through the heavily congested corridor connecting central Cook and DuPage Counties was presented Thursday to the Regional Transportation Authority board.

The key element of the proposal, the result of a three-year study by a committee of suburban mayors and county commissioners, would be an extension of the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line on an east-west route from suburban Forest Park as far west as the Yorktown shopping center in DuPage County.

While the elements of the study are not all new, it is the first time they have been compiled in one cohesive proposal.

The goal of the 133-mile project would be to provide better mass-transit options for the 750,000 commuters who travel the car-jammed Eisenhower Expressway and Tri-State and Reagan Memorial Tollways.

"We found a large suburban market that's not well-served by transit right now," said Bill Lenski, manager of corridor planning studies for the RTA.

The project remains highly conceptual, with few specifics on how to implement it.

An initial cost estimate is $5.5 billion, which is far more than other ambitious commuter projects that have already been the focus of regional transportation planners for years, all competing for fewer federal matching dollars.

Indeed, the RTA began grappling Thursday with its new role of prioritizing the major transit projects put forth by the CTA, Metra and Pace.

The funding legislation approved last month by the General Assembly gives the RTA more oversight and power to sign off on the transit agencies' wish lists.

The main artery of the Cook-DuPage corridor project would be the Blue Line extension.

The route would be intersected at four points between the city and Interstate Highway 355 by north-south feeder routes.

Three of these routes would be a combination of so-called bus rapid-transit routes, offering faster travel and fewer stops than regular bus service, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on expressways.

One feeder, known as the J-Line because of its shape on a map, would use bus rapid transit to connect Naperville and Aurora on the south using the Reagan Memorial corridor to Oak Brook, O'Hare International Airport and the Woodfield/Schaumburg area.

Another bus rapid-transit line would travel on I-355. The plan also calls for extending the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway east to the airport.

The fourth feeder would be a rail component, using the Indiana Harbor Belt tracks to carry passengers from O'Hare to Midway Airport. The idea has been on planners' drawing boards for more than a decade.

The policy committee of suburban mayors and county commissioners recommended the package over two other options.

Public hearings on the project will be held next month.

The RTA intends to begin the next phase of the planning process over the summer, in cooperation with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and other transportation agencies.

Extending the Blue Line from its current terminus in Forest Park to DuPage County is listed in the Chicago region's 2030 long-term master plan.

"But it is not obviously as far along in the planning stages as CTA projects that have already qualified" for placement on a federal list of new projects, said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

CTA projects that are on the so-called new-starts list and currently are in the alternatives analysis phases of planning include Red, Yellow and Orange Line extensions and the Circle Line, which would connect all CTA and Metra rail lines.

"The CTA continues to work with the RTA, Metra and Pace on identifying opportunities to enhance and expand transit," Gaffney said.

rwronski@tribune.com

More articles

OhioGuy Feb 22, 2008 8:30 AM

Does the blue line really need to be extended *all* the way outside the county to Lombard when that area already has Metra service??? I don't have any problems with the Yellow line extension to Old Orchard Shopping Mall considering the area doesn't have Metra service. But Lombard does. I don't have any problem with the Orange Line extension to Ford City Mall because that's actually part of the city of Chicago. Lombard isn't. And I don't have any qualms with the red line being extended further south because that serves more of the city. Extending to Lombard won't. Personally I'd still like to see the brown line extended to Jefferson Park. Serving a dense area of the city with rail transit sounds better to me than extending the CTA rail lines even further out into the suburbs. And of course there is the circle line as well. To me, this blue line extension should be dead last unless DuPage county wants to fund it entirely themselves.

k1052 Feb 22, 2008 2:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3371405)
Does the blue line really need to be extended *all* the way outside the county to Lombard when that area already has Metra service??? I don't have any problems with the Yellow line extension to Old Orchard Shopping Mall considering the area doesn't have Metra service. But Lombard does. I don't have any problem with the Orange Line extension to Ford City Mall because that's actually part of the city of Chicago. Lombard isn't. And I don't have any qualms with the red line being extended further south because that serves more of the city. Extending to Lombard won't. Personally I'd still like to see the brown line extended to Jefferson Park. Serving a dense area of the city with rail transit sounds better to me than extending the CTA rail lines even further out into the suburbs. And of course there is the circle line as well. To me, this blue line extension should be dead last unless DuPage county wants to fund it entirely themselves.

The Blue Line is all ready as long as it should be IMO. Anything further out should be handled by Metra.

The primary expansion projects involving the the CTA should be the Red Line extension, the Circle Line, and the West Loop Transportation center.

Secondary projects should include extending the Orange Line to Ford City, extending the Yellow line to Old Orchard, adding a couple Yellow Line stops,

I don't see much in the way of feasably extending the Brown Line. You'd have to tear through a neighborhood with elevated or go subway ($).

MayorOfChicago Feb 22, 2008 3:18 PM

It's a cute proposal - but who in their right mind would sit on the Blue Line for what would probably be HOURS to get out to Lombard when they can just take a Metra train downtown in half the time?

The CTA L lines certainly aren't meant for long haul, I mean look how long it takes you just to get to Forest Park. Do they really think someone will take a bus from Naperville to Lombard and then switch and take the blue line lumbering through the west side of the city to get downtown? Hell no, they'll jump on Metra.

I do love the O'hare to Midway proposal though, even though I've already heard about it. Too bad it'll never happen in my lifetime.

MayorOfChicago Feb 22, 2008 3:24 PM

And why can't we honestly start acting on ANY of the proposals out there before we start bringing up more? This state just loves to dream big on transit, but where's the action??

Grey Line
Circle Line
Red Line extension
Yellow Line extension
Orange Line to Ford City
Blue Line to Schaumburg
Blue Line to Lombard
Metra Star Line
O'hare to Midway
Midcity Transit
Clinton Street Transit Hub
Carrol Street Transitway
Metra to Rockford
Metra to Milwaukee
Metra to DeKalb
Express trains to O'hare
Express trains to Midway

I mean, it all just makes me want to piss myself thinking of the possibilities - but can't we just ACT and actually build one thing??

Oh Joy, we built the Pink Line. Right...you rehabbed a mile of track and re-routed an existing line. It's not THAT exciting.

Anyway, just a rant - but why can't we focus focus focus instead of just daydreaming...

VivaLFuego Feb 22, 2008 3:26 PM

Well, the primary trip generators in the I-88 corridor (namely the huge employement/economic stretch along 22nd and Butterfield from Oak Brook to Downers Grove) are very poorly served by radially-oriented transit, with the BNSF a few miles to the south. Presumably any extension would be high speed (70mph) with wider station spacing, some of them with large parking facilities. The net effect is something functioning more like BART.

Forest Park into downtown is only about 25 minutes right now. Upgrade the tracks to 70mph, and the trip from Oak Brook to downtown could be reasonably made in about 40 minutes, which beats the hell out of driving in rush hour traffic. under 50 minutes from the Lombard terminal. Oak Brook to downtown is pretty comparable in distance to O'hare-Downtown, and plenty of people make that trip (or did at least until the slow zone epidemic...and they will again once the tracks are fixed).

The biggest issue are the track-miles, and the car-miles that would be racked up traveling over them. It would be very expensive to maintain such a line, so fares and subsidy on the extension would have to be commensurate to support it (again, a la BART). Dreaming here (and this ain't gonna happen), but some I-88 toll revenue could be diverted to support it, as a contribution to reducing congestion.

EDIT: Another thought in re: travel times. The Blue Line ROW is 4-tracks wide from the Halsted portal to about Pulaski. Express trackage anyone? As long as we're dreaming big with billions of federal dollars, why not?

the urban politician Feb 22, 2008 3:37 PM

^ I have to admit, what MayorofChicago said above at least partially rings true. We have heard of so many Chicago area transit proposals in recent years, and one has to wonder what, if any, of these will come to fruition?

I agree that it is important to study various routes and their potential contributions, but do so many have to land on the Federal New Starts list? I'd really like the RTA to simply cut through the crap and say "we badly need these 2 projects to happen", and throw all of their political weight behind them. I'm concerned that we could be spreading ourselves too thin, no?

VivaLFuego Feb 22, 2008 3:58 PM

^ Shotgun approach. Throw enough of these out there, eventually one will capture a powerful politician's imagination and he'll get it pork-barrelled. While some proposals are answers to questions no one really asked (e.g. the Ogden streetcar? STAR line? -Arguably- the Circle Line?), the large number of useful ones underscore the need for general investment in expanding transport infrastructure in the region. If reasonably affordable to do so, it doesn't hurt to have preliminary analysis done on any of these routes so the thing is ready to go to engineering/design once the money comes through.

Abner Feb 22, 2008 4:59 PM

I was actually going to ask what the story is with the open space/partial track along the Eisenhower that's been having some work done on it, apparently very slowly. Those could be CTA express tracks? Honestly, they could probably only skip about four stations though.

Also, if track/car maintenance issues would be such a problem with a line this long, how did they ever get an extension of the Congress line all the way out to Westchester? I guess it was just an extremely long, slow trip. Funny how so many of the current "expansion" proposals (Circle Line, Yellow Line infill stations, Gray Line) are in some part just proposals to restore service that once existed.

schwerve Feb 22, 2008 5:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3371684)
Another thought in re: travel times. The Blue Line ROW is 4-tracks wide from the Halsted portal to about Pulaski. Express trackage anyone? As long as we're dreaming big with billions of federal dollars, why not?

IMO the only way that this makes sense is if this runs express like a purple line west. If you can use this money to help construct an express track and fold that into a airport express we might have something interesting on our hands.

Chicago Shawn Feb 22, 2008 6:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by schwerve (Post 3371879)
IMO the only way that this makes sense is if this runs express like a purple line west. If you can use this money to help construct an express track and fold that into a airport express we might have something interesting on our hands.

Yeah, that is what came to my mind as well. Although I would prefer to see inner city extensions first and foremost, I find this proposal plusable because of the high employment density of the Tech Corridor on I-88. It is much more efficient to have large employment centers on both ends of a transit line, rather than one end. It provides for better utilization of the system in both directions rather than having crush loads going one way and empty trains the other, and therefore boosts the overall rush hour capacity.

There will always be plentiful job markets in the suburbs, no matter how many cooperate HQs decide to move downtown in the future. Connecting them to transit, where the employment density is high enough to warrant it, is only a good thing for the entire region, as long as it doesn't starve other needed projects of needed funding through the high cost of implementation. If a creative financing method (toll revenue sharing, special assessment taxes on commercial property in the I-88 corridor) was used to help the project along, then I would be in favor of it.

Such a project could turn the West Side and near west 'burbs into sort of "sweet spot" or housing choice, as it would sit between one large and one extremely large employment center, both of which are saturated with white and pink collar jobs and connected by transit.


Look at the Blue Line's O'hare link. It provides access to thousands of jobs the other end of the line. Even at 3-4AM, trains heading out to O'Hare have every seat filed by the time they reach Jefferson Park, trains are filled with employees taking on the morning shift for airport and hotel jobs. Later, the reverse commuters for the O'Hare office market begin boarding.

ArteVandelay Feb 22, 2008 7:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3371844)
I was actually going to ask what the story is with the open space/partial track along the Eisenhower that's been having some work done on it, apparently very slowly. Those could be CTA express tracks?

Not CTA express tracks. A contractor is redoing the signal system along the blue line, and almost all the work you've seen along the Eisenhower is related to this work. That is what the short rail siding at Peoria is for as well.

For what its worth, the ROW is only wide enough for express tracks to about the old California station (although it is VERY wide up to that point). After that the ROW gets tight until it leaves the middle of the freeway before the old Central station. Its not as tight as the Kennedy, but putting in a four track express through much of this area would still be massively expensive/impratical, particularly between Pulaski and Cicero.

emathias Feb 23, 2008 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 3371632)
...
I don't see much in the way of feasably extending the Brown Line. You'd have to tear through a neighborhood with elevated or go subway ($).

Straight-line rail on solid cement beds, like the Orange Line, is nowhere near as loud as the old-style steel structures even when it's elevated. Properly constructed, it's probably even quieter than the elevated embankment like the section of Red Line that runs on through Edgewater since you'd have the rail held solidly in place so there's less variation and less vibration and less wear.

There are a series of alleyways running parallel to and just between Lawrence and Leland, with only a couple short breaks all the way from Kimball to the Edens. Using the city's alley ROW, you could totally resurrect the old "alley 'L'" spirit and build it there.

I'm sure there'd be objections to it, but fighting and winning the right to build that would be a tremendously useful precedent for the CTA.

It seems like it could be done and, if the alley were used, for less money than might be expected. the most expensive part might be connecting to the Blue Line, and worst case it could just end there and force people to make a transfer. Transfers aren't really all THAT bad.

Side Note: This 1896 NYTimes article about a legal obstacle to getting the subways there built over 100 years is pretty interesting.

nomarandlee Feb 25, 2008 8:22 PM

Gary Airport News
 
Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...7176059.column

Gary as the 'third airport'?
Passenger air service returning next month
Jon Hilkevitch | Getting Around

.........For travelers who prefer not to drive, shuttle-bus service will begin operating March 13 to the airport from the South Shore Line commuter station about a mile away. The shuttle fare will be $1.25 a ride.

The South Shore runs between the Millennium Park rail station in downtown Chicago and South Bend, Ind., where the trains enter the terminal at South Bend Regional Airport. In the long term, if a second passenger terminal is built at Gary-Chicago, officials envision South Shore trains directly serving the airport.

The new rail routing could be incorporated into long-range plans costing at least $1 billion to extend the South Shore Line to Lowell and Valparaiso, Ind. The Gary-Chicago link is tentatively projected to cost about $130 million...............
..

OhioGuy Feb 25, 2008 8:49 PM

Could they just build something like the AirTrain used in New York that connects both Newark and JFK airports to the rail network? Or would that be more costly than relocating the actual tracks further north?

VivaLFuego Feb 25, 2008 9:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3377488)
Could they just build something like the AirTrain used in New York that connects both Newark and JFK airports to the rail network? Or would that be more costly than relocating the actual tracks further north?

Probably alot more expensive than building a one-track spur off the main line and a flat junction.

jjk1103 Mar 1, 2008 4:28 AM

......I've been riding the Brown Line a few times just recently. I haven't ridden it in probably a year. .......it really seemed to be moving quite well (I'm making exceptions for the construction zones) ....the only two true slow zones that I saw was the curve just after Damen and the stretch around Division St....am I correct, or is this just wishful thinking on my part. ?

orulz Mar 1, 2008 8:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3377548)
Probably alot more expensive than building a one-track spur off the main line and a flat junction.

I certainly don't know what their exact plans are, but I would speculate that it involves through tracks configuration rather a single track spur. First, because the cost estimate for the south shore connection is $130 million. A spur would probably cost a lot less than that. Second, because they want to incorporate an intercity train station into the complex as well.

There are two ways I can see that they might do this. Either relocate the South Shore line to the north of the airport, and build the new terminal close to where the existing one is, or relocate the South Shore Line immediately north of I-90, building a new terminal south of the runway.

ardecila Mar 2, 2008 5:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3329701)
I have a question about the Orange/Yellow line extensions. Both are planned to service major shopping centers (Ford City/Old Orchard, respectively).

The Orange Line only was feasible because it used unused/lightly-used railroad right-of-way. However, the Chicago Belt Railroad (which is parallels at Midway) doesn't go all the way to Ford City, but turns off into the railyards near 68th Street. Would the Orange Line be extended over the railyards and onto its own right-of-way to bring it right into the mall parking lot?

Likewise, the old North Shore Line right-of-way is several blocks away from Old Orchard. I'm not sure I see the point of extending the line another mile if the station won't even be in the mall complex, and mall visitors face a long walk down narrow sidewalks on Golf through a low-density neighborhood. It would be far cheaper to do signalling upgrades and bus lanes on Skokie Boulevard to carry people to the mall, and those actually WOULD go directly to the mall itself; buses could drop people off right at the pedestrian entrances.

Both of these projects seem like really short extensions that are pointless without direct access to their respective malls. The Orange Line shouldn't be too hard to do properly; just build a bridge over the railyard, seize one or two industrial properties, and there's enough to build directly into Ford City.

The Yellow Line extension is more tricky; either you build a short subway under Lawler Avenue to a terminal on the site of Old Orchard's retention pond, or you build an elevated line to a terminal in the same location, thereby eviscerating a neighborhood.

I'm not sure anybody actually cares, since this is merely academic, but I was looking through the City of Skokie's website for renderings of the Oakton Station when I found a nice planning survey for both the new station and the Old Orchard extension. It included a nice little map of the possible alignments for the extension - many that I hadn't even considered, since I viewed Niles North High School as an immutable obstacle. But apparently they're supportive of the extension, which could mean the loss of several athletic facilities and some parking.

However, in a weird twist of fate, Westfield refuses to support any sort of extension that uses Old Orchard parking lots for a new station, despite the fact that they would receive the biggest benefit from the station.

Lastly, the document also included a study of various alignment types (at-grade, elevated, embankment, open cut, subway). Embankment and subway were pretty much eliminated at the beginning. At-grade was obviously the cheapest, but some obscure law might prevent the CTA from building a grade crossing at Dempster, leaving elevated and open cut. Those two options came out very similar in cost, surprisingly. Open cut would come out more favorably on an EIS because of reduced noise, but it presents challenges in terms of relocating underground utility lines.

I photoshopped the map to color-code each possibility. Option G is a one-track subway loop surrounding Niles North High School. Option F is just a weird "fishhook" shape. The study eliminated all alignments except A, E, and B.

http://img412.imageshack.us/img412/7...hardctaat6.jpg

youngregina Mar 2, 2008 7:07 AM

i would chose option A

ardecila Mar 2, 2008 7:42 AM

Option A is the simplest/cheapest, no doubt about that, but it doesn't go anywhere near Old Orchard Mall (which is right underneath the red "C"). From the station at the end of option A, riders would need to walk through a business park and across a busy highway interchange, then past a gas station and another office building to get to the mall, all along narrow sidewalks.

Mall workers might be willing to do that, but shoppers with heavy bags are not going to walk that far, especially in bad weather. Running the line to a station near the mall would allow both kinds of people to easily use the line.

OhioGuy Mar 2, 2008 7:49 AM

Great map, ardecila! I'd been curious as to potential routing ideas.

I like option B. It follows the right-of-way up to the Edens Expressway and then just follows alongside it briefly before curving slightly east toward the Old Orchard Shopping Center. Looking at Google maps, to me it seems as though there is some extra space between the high school and I-94 to squeeze in the track, especially if they do a single track for that final small portion of the route. Double tracking doesn't seem to be necessary once it gets up to the Edens since it's a small enough section of the route that schedules shouldn't overlap between trains arriving at Old Orchard & trains departing Old Orchard. And if the high school is supportive of the extension and willing to give up some space to make it happen, then I say definitely go with that route.

Option E would be my next choice as it's basically the same as B, just not with the slight eastward turn at the end. So instead of eating up the high school's parking lot, I guess they'd be able to keep a portion of it. The downside is that it's ever so slightly further away from the shopping center.

Option A would be my last choice as it would involve building a bridge over I-94. Plus having the station on the other side of the interstate would mean Old Orchard Shopping Center patrons would be stuck walking across the bridge over the very busy interstate. Not exactly an inviting thing to do.

Chicago Shawn Mar 2, 2008 7:07 PM

Nice work!

First off, Westfield is retarded. And seeing as they just removed parking to add stores, I guess they are willing to shrink the lot if it works in their favor. I guess they feel to the poor folks using the train won't spend as much as someone parking a car. Did they ever take into account the extra spending power a train provides when people can drive less? Idiots. Even Mall of America has a rail connection.

I say option A, with an additional station at Golf Road. The Golf Station will provide a slightly shorter and easier walk to the Mall and High School. The Old Orchard Station will provide service to the Old Orchard Woods office park, Bell+Howell Tower, a hotel, branch university and Optima Condos, which collectively have a high enough density to support a station at all times of the day. The "A" station would also be close enough to the Cook County Circuit Court to make the final leg of the trip on foot.

Any other alignment not only is more costly, but provides service almost exclusively to Old Orchard Mall, rather than the surroundings. A station at Golf Road, I believe would provide service to both.

youngregina Mar 2, 2008 9:02 PM

Could there not be a shuttle bus that could take you from old orchard mall to the old orchard rd. station.?? (in option A)

OhioGuy Mar 2, 2008 10:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by youngregina (Post 3390382)
Could there not be a shuttle bus that could take you from old orchard mall to the old orchard rd. station.?? (in option A)

People who weren't willing to take a bus there in the first place won't do so after spending the time sitting on the train to get to the area. Plus who wants to wait around for a shuttle bus that runs every now & then? I wouldn't. Placing the station on the other side of the interstate would mean people buying things would be stuck lugging their bags further to get to the train. It would also mean students taking the train to school would be stuck with a further walk as well. I really think the station needs to be on the east side of the interstate. Maybe to appease everyone, option E would be best? Placing it there puts it equal distance between the shopping center to the east, the office park to the west, and the residential area on the north side of Old Orchard Road. It also avoids the need to build a bridge across the Edens Expressway. Option A just places it in the middle of a nondescript office park with parking lots everywhere. It's not as convenient to the shopping center or to the more populated residential areas. As I said, option E places the station basically between everything.

ardecila Mar 3, 2008 12:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3390487)
It also avoids the need to build a bridge across the Edens Expressway.

There's already an underpass underneath the Edens that alignment A could use. The North Shore Line used to go from here all the way up to Milwaukee. Some pedestrian improvements (repaving/push-button signals) would need to be added along Old Orchard Road between the station and the mall.

I'm starting to like option E as well. The north parking lot for Niles North could be turned into an intermodal center/parking structure. The additional parking in the structure would offset the school's lost parking and provide a place for park'n'ride off the Edens. If the facility is big enough, I can see CTA introducing an express service directly to downtown.

OhioGuy Mar 3, 2008 2:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3390737)
There's already an underpass underneath the Edens that alignment A could use.

Ah, ok. I hadn't realized that, though I guess it makes sense.

Having said that, I still prefer something on the east side of the interstate rather than the west side.

MayorOfChicago Mar 3, 2008 8:13 PM

Tribune:

The Chicago Transit Authority is installing 60 fare-card vending machines enabling customers to use credit cards to purchase rides, the transit agency announced Monday.

The machines accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express credit cards, as well as debit cards that have an accompanying credit card logo, officials said.

Customers using the machines will be able to purchase magnetic-strip transit cards and add value to either magnetic-strip transit cards or Chicago Cards, which are electronic smart cards.

When paying with a credit or debit card, the minimum value that can be added to a magnetic-strip transit card or Chicago Card is $5. As a security measure, the maximum value that can be charged to a credit card is $25 each calendar day.

The first five of 60 machines are located at the O'Hare International Airport station on the Blue Line, the Merchandise Mart station serving the Brown and Purple/Evanston Express Lines, the Clark/Lake station in the Loop, the Adams/Jackson station on the Blue Line and the Midway Airport station on the Orange Line, officials said.

After a 30-day test period, the remaining 55 fare-card machines are expected to be installed over the next four months at more than 45 CTA rail stations.

Nowhereman1280 Mar 3, 2008 8:16 PM

^^^ Its about time they did this, cash is so 20th century...

Haworthia Mar 3, 2008 8:46 PM

Ditto to that. I don't know how many times I've had to hunt down an ATM so I could put more money on my card. I hope they put some of these machines on the Green Line too.

ardecila Mar 3, 2008 11:21 PM

^^ I'm sure Harlem/Lake will be one of the 45 stations in the second phase, along with all the other terminal stations (95th, Forest Park, Howard, Kimball, etc.).

Marcu Mar 4, 2008 1:10 AM

^ Yes this is just a huge PR move for the CTA that that they had to spend very little on. Especially now that everyone's on the Chicago Card. But little things like this add up, and at least Huberman seems to be concerned with people's perception of the services they are getting for their money. The same can't be said for some other governing bodies in this area. (Cook County comes to mind).

pip Mar 4, 2008 11:16 PM

CTA vows 'breakout year' for service fixes

Crain’s) — The Chicago Transit Authority’s new boss Tuesday promised riders a specific set of service improvements — including a near-end to bus bunching and slow zones on el trains — that they will be able to count on seeing no more than 18 months from now.
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=28456

MayorOfChicago Mar 5, 2008 12:57 AM

Check out the highlights.......

1) “The CTA’s got to be a better deal than a car” if it is to maintain its service and dream about future expansion, Mr. Huberman said.

“We know we’re cheaper. We need to be faster,” he added, describing the coming months as “a breakout year” for the long-challenged agency.


2) The CTA already had announced plans to spend tens of millions of dollars rebuilding much of the O’Hare Blue Line west of the Addison stop and Mr. Huberman said that action, combined with other steps, should cut the amount of tracks under slow zones to just 6.9% of the CTA system by the end of this year, down from 21.2% last June.

3) On bus bunching, in which buses delayed by traffic arrive in clumps rather than being scattered every few minutes, Mr. Huberman said the CTA already is doing everything from giving special training to supervisors and drivers to regularly informing workers at each garage how well they are doing at keeping schedules compared to other garages.

Severe weather always will have the potential to throw the CTA for a loop, but, “We’re making progress,” Mr. Huberman said. “By the summer, I think we’ll have it beat.”

4) In another change, electronic schedule boards telling riders how long it will be until their train arrives should be installed in every el station within 18 months, Mr. Huberman said. Based on systems now in place in London and other cities, the boards will carry some advertising which should totally pay their cost, he said.

ardecila Mar 5, 2008 1:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 3395092)
4) In another change, electronic schedule boards telling riders how long it will be until their train arrives should be installed in every el station within 18 months, Mr. Huberman said. Based on systems now in place in London and other cities, the boards will carry some advertising which should totally pay their cost, he said.

I've been waiting for this for YEARS! Newer systems like the DC Metro have these signs system-wide, and they're absolutely great. They make the system tremendously user-friendly. I doubt that CTA will install the flashing lights on the platform edges, but having a countdown sign is so much nicer than the canned recordings. Even NYC only has such signs on certain lines; a system-wide installation within 18 months is unreal.

However, I thought that proper countdown signs required a new signal system to be installed? I think Viva mentioned that the last time we discussed these signs a few months ago. If the CTA is not prepared to spend money upgrading the signals, then the signs will only be able to give estimated arrival times based on the planned schedule, and if the train is late, then the signs will be incorrect.

According to Wikipedia, MTA over in New York paid $160 million in 2003 dollars to outfit 158 stations with such signs. That would make it roughly $185 million today - how many years of advertising will it take to pay that off?

The article also mentioned several ways that the CTA is trying to increase revenue and decrease expenses. Increased concessions contracts were mentioned, including possibly Starbucks, as well as leasing out ticket machines to banks, who would then incorporate ATM functions into the machines. The revenue from concessions could be substantial, and leasing out ticket machines would replace a cost with another revenue source.

Marcu Mar 5, 2008 3:45 AM

^ Great news all around. We may finally get back to having a world class transit system.

MayorOfChicago Mar 5, 2008 3:10 PM

The buses always know where they are (to announce the next bus stop) by using GPS.

Can't we just throw a GPS on the trains, have it transmit the train # and location to a "headquarters", and then tie that in with the units in the train stations? If we can throw them on every bus, we should be able to do this without TOO much trouble.

Especially since so much of the system is above ground. GPS in cars can tell you where you are and how far you have until you arrive at your destination, this is the same concept. You just need to send that information from the train car to the specific unit in the train station...

i_am_hydrogen Mar 5, 2008 7:09 PM

CTA president offers broad platform for rail, bus improvements
New buses, cardless transit part of vision


By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
10:51 PM CST, March 4, 2008


A lunchtime business crowd hungry for changes at the Chicago Transit Authority got all it could possibly digest Tuesday from CTA President Ron Huberman.

An energetic Huberman served up promises of rail-car seats clean enough to eat off of and technology to tell waiting riders when their buses and trains will arrive. He also vowed to quickly launch an ambitious campaign to post electronic advertising on bus exteriors and improve retail shops in rail stations, all to help fund an array of future transit projects.

But by the time dessert was finished at the City Club of Chicago luncheon, the big question staring back from empty plates was how Huberman would accomplish it all, especially in the 12- to 18-month timetable he laid out.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,7686476.story

emathias Mar 5, 2008 7:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3395158)
... According to Wikipedia, MTA over in New York paid $160 million in 2003 dollars to outfit 158 stations with such signs. That would make it roughly $185 million today - how many years of advertising will it take to pay that off? ...

You're thinking too much like a constuction guy and not enough like a technologist.

I don't know how New York did it, but I have a hard time believing it would cost anywhere near $1 million per station to add this in Chicago. First of all, unless I've been severely misled, Chicago has a systemwide computer network already in place. Second of all, the equipment costs for LED signs should have dropped considerably in the past 5 years. I know union labor is ungodly expensive, but even if estimating the signs they choose cost $100,000 each (I actually think they should cost about 1/5 of that), and have 4 per stations with a total of $250,000 per station to install them, that's $102 million, not $185 million. And if the signs themselves do only cost $20k each, and can be installed for $100k per station, it would only be $28 million - which is easily an amount that could be financed with advertising I think.

I don't have any hard numbers, but I really don't think the cost will be anywhere close to $100 million, let alone $185 million.

emathias Mar 5, 2008 7:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 3396257)
The buses always know where they are (to announce the next bus stop) by using GPS.

Can't we just throw a GPS on the trains, have it transmit the train # and location to a "headquarters", and then tie that in with the units in the train stations? If we can throw them on every bus, we should be able to do this without TOO much trouble.

Especially since so much of the system is above ground. GPS in cars can tell you where you are and how far you have until you arrive at your destination, this is the same concept. You just need to send that information from the train car to the specific unit in the train station...

I've asked this question in the past and only gotten excuses about why it can't work - none of them very convincing. I think, perhaps, the CTA has simply lacked a leader who understood how to make good use of technology. If Huberman is now a leader who does (and all evidence indicates that he is), we may be close to a golden age of technological solutions to our local transit problems. That may be overly optimistic, but he at least seems to be advocating doing things that make sense to people who've grown up with technology.

VivaLFuego Mar 5, 2008 8:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3396891)
I've asked this question in the past and only gotten excuses about why it can't work - none of them very convincing. I think, perhaps, the CTA has simply lacked a leader who understood how to make good use of technology. If Huberman is now a leader who does (and all evidence indicates that he is), we may be close to a golden age of technological solutions to our local transit problems. That may be overly optimistic, but he at least seems to be advocating doing things that make sense to people who've grown up with technology.

How many GPS transponders do you buy? One for every single railcar (since every railcar could potentially be the cab-car of a revenue train)? Or do you issue them straight to operators and then deal with things like responsibility and accountability? GPS receivers are cheap, but are you familiar with what's required to take that GPS data then transmit it back via IP to a central server? It's basically a laptop and cell-modem in every railcar (again, do you install it in the railcar, or issue it straight to operators?). Hardware installation for such a project would run (ballpark guess, based on the CTA Bus Tracker project) $15-30 million. That's just for railcar-side components, and it leaves you with a gaping hole in system coverage for the entire downtown area (GPS not working at all underground, and not working well among highrises).

Alternatively, for next train arrival predictions, you tie into the signal system (the choice taken by nearly every heavy rail transit operator who's done this...some lightrail operators go the GPS route). Remember, parts of the CTA system (Blue Line) are still controlled by pneumatic block signals from circa 1950 (currently being replaced, done by sometime in 2009). Even once everything is upgraded to automatic train control, the entirety of the signal system is not yet online for tracking in the control center (again, this should be done by sometime 2009). So given these two large projects (replacing Blue Line signals cost ~$160 million, for example), control center will now be able to monitor the signal system (and ergo train location) in real time.

Now, the arrival times have to be sent back to each station (regardless of whether control center is getting location data via GPS or signals). How to transmit this? The ability to use cell-modems for this sort of operation is very recent, only becoming commercial feasible in the past couple years. Most transit properties simply send it via conduit/fibre lines that run the length of the system along the ROW. As you can tell by the voice quality of announcements at some station platforms, many stations are yet to be wired with modern data transmission infrastructure. Again, this is another multi-year ongoing project necessary before rolling out a next-train arrival system. It could theoretically be sent back to stations via cell modems.

All told, none of these are insurmountable obstacles, nor are any of the final steps to an arrival countdown system absurdly expensive (many of the base features like modern signals, fibre optic lines, and tying control center into the signal system) should be done regardless for service reliability and safety purposes. It does take someone who really wants to get it done to make the investment and direct organizational resources to get a countdown system installed. But its not like there was no progress on this front, and suddenly a motivated individual decided It Must Be Done and CTA got to work. The necessary pieces, upgrading railroad ROWs with components dating back to the 1890s, have been ongoing for literally decades, and with a final push now a systemwide implementation is within reach.

Like with the CTA Bus Tracker, lots of people want to see a quick and dirty project that gives some sort of result (like the generally meaningless bus countdown clocks London installed some years ago); but of course, such a result will be of suspect quality and reliability. To do a project like this right, it takes a great deal of time (often many years) of planning and design.

Abner Mar 5, 2008 9:14 PM

http://www.wjinc.com/main.asp?Sectio...70&TM=57720.03

RTA comes to town for reaction on Blue Line plan
Meeting March 12 features Q & A on Cook-DuPage corridor study

By BILL DWYER

Officials from the Regional Transportation Authority and members of the Cook-DuPage Corridor Study will be at the Oak Park village hall March 12 to publicly present a preliminary set of plans addressing long-term public transportation needs in Chicago, western Cook County and DuPage County.

The public meeting, scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. in the village council chambers, is one of five scheduled over an eight-day period.

...

Assistant to the Village Manager Rob Cole said the occasion is an opportunity to voice "strong opposition" to new high occupancy vehicle lanes, bus rapid transit or high occupancy toll lanes on the Eisenhower Expressway.

"The Blue Line extension is a far superior alternative for an abundant number of reasons, and we strongly urge opposition to any attempt to widen I-290," said Cole.

Rapid transit expert and advocate Rick Kuner, who is credited by many for stopping unilateral plans by the Illinois Department of Transportation to add additional lanes to I-290 in 2002, sent out an e-mail alert last week echoing Cole's concerns and urging people to attend the meeting.

"We need to send a loud, clear message that Oak Park says "yes" to the Blue Line and "no" to expanding the Eisenhower," wrote Kuner, calling the current process "a critical juncture."

ardecila Mar 6, 2008 6:03 AM

I don't see why they keep referring to bus rapid transit as "expanding the Eisenhower". In a dedicated right-of-way, BRT doesn't take up any more space than a rail line would. Operating costs are undoubtedly less, too. I'm definitely against adding regular lanes to the Eisenhower, though.

Viva: I thought the outmoded signals were on the O'Hare Branch. How can these signals date back to the 50s when the line wasn't constructed until the 70s? I don't doubt that the signals are outmoded, though.

Also, it seems like cell-modem is the easiest way to implement the train-arrival system. It can be easily done incrementally, station-by-station, as CTA sees fit, as supposed to a dedicated communications line down the tracks which must be installed at night or during a line shut-down, and requires lots of labor to lay down and wire properly.

emathias Mar 6, 2008 6:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3396962)
Like with the CTA Bus Tracker, lots of people want to see a quick and dirty project that gives some sort of result (like the generally meaningless bus countdown clocks London installed some years ago); but of course, such a result will be of suspect quality and reliability. To do a project like this right, it takes a great deal of time (often many years) of planning and design.

I'm not familiar with the bus equipment in London, but I know the bus (and train) countdowns in Stockholm seemed to work just fine when i was there 5 years ago.

There is no universal single "right" way to do it. There are probably dozens of ways to create a reliable notification system - you mentioned or alluded to at least three - and while you talk about the CTA working on various pieces that can be used for such a system, the CTA has never said "we're going to do this," maybe because of money, or maybe because they never really understood the value to customers.

What the CTA has said publicly is, "We're doing this needed project and, oh yeah, it could also, maybe, in the unplanned future, possibly contribute to notification."

I think it is getting done now because someone is saying it will be done. And I think that someone is Huberman. However, it's also likely that part of the problem in the past is that the CTA had no unified plan for what they were going to do and when they would do it. Part of that is surely the result of spotty funding, or maybe the problem was they had a plan but never communicated it so they never felt any pressure to actually deliver on the plan. Deadlines are when things get done. No deadlines, in my experience, means no results. That Huberman is setting deadlines, even if they slip, should mean more things eventually get done.

MayorOfChicago Mar 6, 2008 3:20 PM

God bless Illinois....

Quote:

CTA must cut $200 million from new train, bus budget
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,3790823.story

Abner Mar 6, 2008 3:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3398112)
I don't see why they keep referring to bus rapid transit as "expanding the Eisenhower". In a dedicated right-of-way, BRT doesn't take up any more space than a rail line would. Operating costs are undoubtedly less, too. I'm definitely against adding regular lanes to the Eisenhower, though.

I think the bigger concern is HOV lanes. The group in Oak Park sees these as a back-door way to sneak in more regular lanes, since HOV lanes can always be converted back to regular lanes when they find they're underused. Apparently the HOV lanes would only exist between Mannheim and Austin, so I don't know how many people would really bother with them. I think the concern for BRT lanes might be similar.

Also, isn't a traffic lane wider than a rail right-of-way? I don't know about this. Obviously Oak Park's main concern is to avoid the acquisition of property along the Eisenhower--it is pretty densely developed all along there.


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