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Abner Feb 19, 2009 11:24 PM

Oh geez. So is there a chance NABI will go bankrupt and CTA will end up holding the bag on those godawful buses? They're so bad I try to avoid routes that use them whenever possible.

It kind of sucks that the Trib hasn't emphasized that the budget shortfalls are due to the economy. If there's no money in this stimulus package to help out the RTA and other local agencies around the country that are no doubt in the same predicament, maybe more federal aid will show up sooner than we think. A few months ago I'd expect the federal government to gladly sit around while transit agencies went broke, but now I expect different...

Chicago3rd Feb 20, 2009 12:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4098486)
:previous:

That really sucks. They've known about the issue for a long time and have sued the manufacturer.

THis isn't the first time...this issue has come up. When they first bought these buses...or about a year after...there was concern about this issue. But it quietly went away......so who got paid off to be quiet?

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL)
Extra-long buses come with big flaws, CTA says.
From: Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL) | Date: March 13, 2005 | COPYRIGHT 2005 Chicago Tribune.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-130255620.html
Chicago Transit AuthorityTransit Authority in Chicago.

Chicago Tribune
March 13, 2005

Byline: Jon Hilkevitch

Mar. 13--Alarmed about serious defects in its new extra-long buses, the Chicago Transit Authority has stopped payments on the $102 million contract because the financially struggling manufacturer is resisting demands to fix many of the problems, transit officials said.

The most worrisome flaw involves cracks that developed in the chassis of a bus that was put through an accelerated durability test, officials said. The test involves running a bus 12,000 miles on a track that contains potholes and other hazards to approximate the wear and tear the ...

the urban politician Feb 20, 2009 2:00 AM

Ahhh, bad news. It's contagious.

Every thread I visit, it follows me around. Heido Ho, to the next thread I go! :D :cheers:

Ch.G, Ch.G Feb 20, 2009 2:09 AM

^ Well, it's only bad news if you started reading after this article posted by jpIllInoIs:

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 4098160)
February 19, 2009

http://www.pioneerlocal.com/glencoe/...909-s1.article

By LIZA ROCHE lroche@pioneerlocal.com
High gas prices, congested roadways and expanded train service helped make 2008 a record-setting year for annual ridership for suburban Metra rail -- its third consecutive year for making such a record.

In all, Metra reported nearly 84.5 million paid rides in 2008, a 1.4 percent increase over 2007. When including free rides for seniors, the total number of passenger trips grew to 86.8 million in 2008, a 4.2 percent increase from the previous year...


pip Feb 20, 2009 2:21 AM

please please please tell me those new hybrid accordian busses are not made by the same company.

Busy Bee Feb 20, 2009 3:26 AM

From Chicagobus.org

CTA Pulls NABI Buses for Safety Reasons
February 19, 2009 – By Kevin Zolkiewicz

The Chicago Transit Authority announced this afternoon that it has pulled its entire fleet of 7500-series North American Bus Industries (NABI) model 60LFW articulated buses from service effective immediately. The decision was prompted by safety concerns after a NABI bus recently experienced a structural failure while pulling into a garage.

An early retirement of the NABI fleet had been suspected recently, as over a dozen of the vehicles dropped off the active fleet roster in January. At last count, approximately 200 of the buses had remained in service.

The NABI fleet was placed into service starting in 2003 and has been prone to a substantial amount of defects. Shortly after entering into service, cracks began to form in the articulation joint and axles of the buses. This, combined with other mechanical issues, often resulted in the buses having a failure rate higher than that of buses more than three times their age.

In 2004, the CTA stopped payment to NABI as a result of the ongoing issues with the buses. A lawsuit was also filed when NABI failed to make sufficient improvements under warranty. In May 2007, CTA Chairman Carole Brown stated on her blog that the CTA was still working with NABI to correct ongoing suspension problems, calling it a “serious issue” that “must be fixed.”

The CTA says the buses will be inspected by a structural expert before making a decision regarding the future of the buses. While FTA regulations typically require that buses purchased with federal funds remain on the road for at least 12 years, exceptions could be made in the event of safety issues.

The disappearance of NABI buses on the streets will result in a major fleet shortage for the CTA. The agency is advising customers to expect “challenges” during rush hour periods. Additional rush hour rail service will be added to the Red, Blue, Brown, Green, and Pink lines.

Last fall, the CTA began accepting delivery of up to 150 articulated hybrid buses from New Flyer Industries. Currently approximately 94 of these buses are in service, with more arriving each week. However, their arrival will not fully solve the fleet shortage issue. CTA has also placed additional orders for articulated hybrid buses from New Flyer, but has yet to give a notice to proceed while the agency awaits capital funding.
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Are there any MAN's left? The 30 year old M.A.N.(Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nürnberg AG in case you ever wondered) artics were probably are most reliable bus of all.

pip Feb 20, 2009 5:45 AM

some previus post of mine on those busses.





not sure of the date, too lazy to go relook up what I found already

NABI articulated buses

those are the freakin' worst pieces of junk and I'm no bus expert but I do know that much. Never buy from them again!




07-15-2008
Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Total lemons. Problems not isolated to a single sub-system; if anything, the few working systems are remarkable for their rarity. Suspension, doors, engine, exhaust, electrical; all a mess. I hope there is money for a major mid-life overhaul of these.
I am trying to follow. These busses are the new articulated busses? Pic:

If so I agree. I never thought in my life I would complain about the quality of construction of a bus. I wonder if they will hold together over any little bump, that middle sections jumps as I watch it move up inches and crash together in a noise that would make a sonic boom a lullaby. Though stalling could prevent that. Also stalling would prevent the overhead areas from collapsing onto passengers. Who the hell made this crap?




so I went from the train to the express busses because of track work. I got used the the busses. Now the busses are down and lots of problems now so thankfully the trains are working again. Lol, what a system. But hey, I still live easily without a car so it can't be that bad. Also, and this is true, the CTA has impoved a lot within the past year even with this new bus problem. Things definetly follow schedule much better and whatever else makes riding easier. It's not a hassle to traverse the city anymore.

Nowhereman1280 Feb 20, 2009 6:16 AM

I'm glad those pieces of shit are gone even if it causes a rush hour crunch! I don't really care about rush hour because I don't travel then. earliest I have to be downtown is 9am...

I seriously hated those NABI crapfests, I have never had a more unpleasant experience on Mass Transit than riding those...

Attrill Feb 20, 2009 6:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 4098665)
THis isn't the first time...this issue has come up. When they first bought these buses...or about a year after...there was concern about this issue. But it quietly went away......so who got paid off to be quiet?

I don't think anyone was paid off to be quiet, I think there just wasn't much new to report. They stopped payments and cut their losses in a situation where aggressively suing a failing company would just mean paying a lot of lawyers to try and get blood from a stone. It does seem like they should have done a better job keeping an eye on the structural integrity of the buses in service.

ChicagoChicago Feb 20, 2009 3:10 PM

Not sure how anyone else was affected this morning by the bus shortage, but my commute sucked! I take the 77 Belmont Bus currently, until Paulina Brown line stop opens back up. The bus tracker was showing buses running every 15 minutes at 7:30. That’s about twice as long as they usually take. I ended up walking nearly a mile to Belmont CTA stop. Not the end of the world, but it makes you realize that dropping 6% of these buses presents a huge problem…

the urban politician Feb 20, 2009 3:24 PM

So the question is this:

Daley so far has not demonstrated a very high transit IQ. Is this the product of many years of a poor Federal transit-funding environment, or does he really just not have a clue?

The next few years will be revealing: in quite possibly the most pro-transit Federal environment since WWII, what will this guy do as Chicago's "emperor for life" to improve & modernize the transit system?

Taft Feb 20, 2009 3:24 PM

I think it is remarkable how many national-level articles on transit issues are coming up lately. It is nice to see ideas like these getting a little air time.

Quote:

Mileage Tax Considered By Obama Transportation Secretary LaHood

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn _ an idea that has angered drivers in some states where it has been proposed.

Gasoline taxes that for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the nation's transportation system moving, LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said.

...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/0..._n_168506.html

the urban politician Feb 21, 2009 3:49 AM

Amtrak line from Chicago to St. Louis would be target for stimulus
By Jason Nevel
jason.nevel@lee.net
Advertisement

SPRINGFIELD -- The Amtrak line from Chicago to St. Louis would be a central target for some of the $8 billion allocated for high-speed rail in the federal economic stimulus package, Illinois Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

“Most of that money is going to be for federally designated high-speed rail corridors, which there are three in Illinois with Chicago to St. Louis being the big one,” said George Weber, who heads the railroad division at IDOT.

The other Illinois-based rail lines designated for high-speed trains are from Chicago to Detroit and Chicago to Milwaukee.


With Normal being one of the stops on the Amtrak route from Chicago to St. Louis, state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said the extra money could result in more riders, who would see reduced travel times on the route.

“It’s … going to be able to enhance not only their time schedule but ridership,” Brady said. “It will be something positive for the Normal transportation center where the train station is in my district.”

The town is seeking $10 million for the center that would accommodate train, bus and taxi service on land along Beaufort Street just west of the Children’s Discovery Museum. Normal already has received $10 million in federal funding for the $24.6 million project.

Those rail routes are not the only projects IDOT sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will decide in 60 days how much money Illinois will receive for high-speed rail.

Weber said a new route from Chicago to Rock Island and additional Chicago-to-Carbondale service would be contenders for federal funds.

Rick Harnish, president of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association said the number of Illinoisans in Washington, D.C., could factor in to how much money Illinois gets. Not only is the president from Chicago, but U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield is the No. 2 man in the Senate. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel is from Chicago and the secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood, is from Peoria.

“It will probably have an impact,” Harnish said.

pip Feb 21, 2009 4:06 AM

while I'm glad that this Midwest high speed rail is getting funding for me I would rather see the money go to the CTA, you know the cumbling transit agency that in a few hours probably gives more rides than all three of those routes currently combined in a year.

jpIllInoIs Feb 21, 2009 4:14 AM

^ Most of the Chi-St.L time reduction improvements are between Joliet & Chicago. The flyovers, track connections and double track alignments will benefit Metra, Amtrak and HSR. Also I wouldn't rule out some capital expenditures for CTA.

the urban politician Feb 21, 2009 4:14 AM

^ The stimulus bill does put money into transit systems.

But yes, I see your point.

Does anybody else here get the feeling that funding for massive projects such as HSR is being packed into as short of a time as possible out of fear of Democrats inevitably losing their advantage in Washington at some point? After all, in the past 3 decades Democrats have more often been out of power than in power.

The way I see it, we have a chance to get things done so lets just BUILD the infrastructure now, even if it may not make total sense at this moment in time. Does that feeling ring true with anyone else?

pip Feb 21, 2009 4:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4101050)
^ The stimulus bill does put money into transit systems.

But yes, I see your point.

Does anybody else here get the feeling that funding for massive projects such as HSR is being packed into as short of a time as possible out of fear of Democrats inevitably losing their advantage in Washington at some point? After all, in the past 3 decades Democrats have more often been out of power than in power.

The way I see it, we have a chance to get things done so lets just BUILD the infrastructure now, even if it may not make total sense at this moment in time. Does that feeling ring true with anyone else?


I hope so. I would hate to think I could get from Milwaukee to Chicago faster then Grand to Belmont.

lawfin Feb 21, 2009 4:34 AM

I hope they don't "overstop" these HSR proposal out of political cowardice. To be effective the HSR for example between Chi and Stl really should have maybe 1 stop or at absolute most 2. I can see a lot of politician vying for a stop in their town, because if bypassed it could mean longterm trouble.

On the Stl-Chi route, just off the top of my head I would think Springfield as the stop, not Normal

I just hope that they keep the stops to a minimum otherwise its pointless

On the other routes:

Chi-GrandRapids-Detroit

Chi-Milw thats it, maybe eventually with one out to Madison then Minny

Mr Downtown Feb 21, 2009 4:42 AM

^I think you overestimate the time needed for a stop. Five stops between Chicago and St. Louis would only add about 15 minutes to a running time that, in our dreams, is still four hours. But those five stops would probably add about 40% to the ridership numbers.

bnk Feb 21, 2009 5:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4101088)
^I think you overestimate the time needed for a stop. Five stops between Chicago and St. Louis would only add about 15 minutes to a running time that, in our dreams, is still four hours. But those five stops would probably add about 40% to the ridership numbers.

That alone if true is a major reason for stops.

I hope someday we can increase the speed of the train itself to justify the increase in the percentage of additional travelers picked up in the stopping process.

IMO the only way a real HSR can do all of the above is to go above the 110 mph somehow sharing the same tracks with freight. To me this can be achieved with doubling of the rails for letting freight side off to give right away to passenger rail.

I am sure there are other ideas how to do this...

Vs. a money killer like a true real HSR maglev type thing that would cost 100X the amount to construct in the same distance.

lawfin Feb 21, 2009 7:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4101088)
^I think you overestimate the time needed for a stop. Five stops between Chicago and St. Louis would only add about 15 minutes to a running time that, in our dreams, is still four hours. But those five stops would probably add about 40% to the ridership numbers.

Probably do, and that is a good point about ridership.However you may be underestimating the timing effect of the necessary acceleration and negative acceleration necessary after and before stops. That would probably add another 20 minutes or so to the delay I am thinking. However I am not aware of the technical specs these trains have for accleration and braking, but they certainly cannot start or stop instantaneously to or from 150 mph or whatever it will be.

In Europe I think highspeed is generally between 125-150 mph of I am not mistake. An express to St Lou could do that in about 2.5 hours.

I wonder if express trains will be an option

jpIllInoIs Feb 21, 2009 2:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lawfin (Post 4101074)
I hope they don't "overstop" these HSR proposal out of political cowardice. To be effective the HSR for example between Chi and Stl really should have maybe 1 stop or at absolute most 2. I can see a lot of politician vying for a stop in their town, because if bypassed it could mean longterm trouble.

On the Stl-Chi route, just off the top of my head I would think Springfield as the stop, not Normal

I just hope that they keep the stops to a minimum otherwise its pointless

On the other routes:

Chi-GrandRapids-Detroit

Chi-Milw thats it, maybe eventually with one out to Madison then Minny


Your going to have 8 stops for sure. Chic Union Station, Cicero ave (New Midway Station), Joliet (lots of connections with Metra), Normal (ILL State Univ), Springfiled, Alton (Last stop in Ill-StL Suburbs), St.L Dwntwn.
Also one of either: Dwight or Chenoa whichever is chosen for the Peoria spur.

Mr Downtown Feb 21, 2009 2:49 PM

Acceleration and deceleration for electric trainsets are pretty comparable to a passenger car; diesel-electric hauled trains accelerate a little more slowly, about like an 18-wheeler. Now when you're driving up US41 to Milwaukee and make five stops for the traffic signals in Lake County, you don't lose 35 minutes. HSR to St. Louis won't have all-new right-of-way through towns where it stops, so will probably be doing 60mph max.

Berwyn Feb 21, 2009 8:15 PM

This is very exciting stuff. Although I'm worried there is too much a focus on regional rail transit rather than rail transit improvements within a metropolitan area.

I like METRA, but I'll like to suggest a minor technical and cost free improvement which would greatly benefit METRA and its ridership. Nevertheless it would require some political balls at the state level.

It would also be nice if METRA was given land-use planning authority over lands within 1/4 mile radius of stations. This would allow for some amazing transit-oriented developments, improved stations, and underground parking (hell have it free underground parking to encourage transit usage) without the usual influential NIMBYs calling their local town councilor. If the city is really raising a stink about METRA having land-use authority over a small portion of their town, METRA could have the option of mothballing the station and skipping the town altogether.

nomarandlee Feb 22, 2009 7:47 AM

I know I have seen it around here before, could someone post a link of a list of the route ridership of CTA bus routes. :)

Thanks in advance.

nomarandlee Feb 22, 2009 6:42 PM

Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel...,5970949.story

Las Vegas bets on $8 billion rail pot, but Midwest team is well connectedBy JIM ABRAMS | Associated Press Writer
10:08 AM CST, February 22, 2009

........In fact, competition for the $8 billion in mass transit construction is just beginning. Backers of numerous other planned high-speed rail corridors around the country are making their case for the money.

They notably include a Midwest initiative long supported by someone with even more clout than Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who strongly supports the Anaheim-Las Vegas line. That would be former Illinois Sen. Obama.


...........Also in the running are proposed high-speed corridors in the Northeast, the Northwest, Florida and the South.

Howard Learner, president of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, a group promoting a Midwest high-speed rail network, said his area is in excellent position to capture a good chunk of that money. The Federal Railroad Administration, he said, has recognized the Midwest initiative connecting Chicago and 11 metropolitan areas within 400 miles as the system most ready to go.

He and others brushed aside claims that the $8 billion was set aside for Reid's favorite. Obama, who expressed strong interest in high-speed rail investment during the campaign, and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are both from Chicago. Obama's transportation secretary, Ray Lahood, also is from Illinois. So is the Senate's..............
..

Via Chicago Feb 22, 2009 10:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Berwyn (Post 4101826)
This is very exciting stuff. Although I'm worried there is too much a focus on regional rail transit rather than rail transit improvements within a metropolitan area.

I like METRA, but I'll like to suggest a minor technical and cost free improvement which would greatly benefit METRA and its ridership. Nevertheless it would require some political balls at the state level.

It would also be nice if METRA was given land-use planning authority over lands within 1/4 mile radius of stations. This would allow for some amazing transit-oriented developments, improved stations, and underground parking (hell have it free underground parking to encourage transit usage) without the usual influential NIMBYs calling their local town councilor. If the city is really raising a stink about METRA having land-use authority over a small portion of their town, METRA could have the option of mothballing the station and skipping the town altogether.

Nah, I dont agree. Metra should do what it was designed to do: provide rail transit. Leave real estate development out of that. I doubt your proposal could even work from a legal standpoint.

arenn Feb 23, 2009 12:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4099634)
Not sure how anyone else was affected this morning by the bus shortage, but my commute sucked! I take the 77 Belmont Bus currently, until Paulina Brown line stop opens back up. The bus tracker was showing buses running every 15 minutes at 7:30. That’s about twice as long as they usually take. I ended up walking nearly a mile to Belmont CTA stop. Not the end of the world, but it makes you realize that dropping 6% of these buses presents a huge problem…

We must be in the same 'hood. I've actually been walking Belmont from Paulina to the Sheffield stop. It's not to bad unless the cold is particularly awful - and I'm getting in some good exercise.

firstcranialnerve Feb 23, 2009 9:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Via Chicago (Post 4103643)
Nah, I dont agree. Metra should do what it was designed to do: provide rail transit. Leave real estate development out of that. I doubt your proposal could even work from a legal standpoint.

I think what they are trying to say is that several cities, for example HK, have beautiful subways with developments on top that help pay for the expansion of the subways. It's infuriating that the public-private partnership in this country hasn't come anywhere close to the same kind of beautiful,fast rail systems seen overseas.

Is there any decent proposal to upgrade our subways/el with some kind of partnership between developers, transit and the city? I realize the market isn't favorable right now, but we have to find a way to improve our transport systems and stop the endless stopgap.... I find roosevelt station the symbol of our current system... falling down, no vision and frankly...embarassing

the urban politician Feb 23, 2009 10:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by firstcranialnerve (Post 4105480)
Is there any decent proposal to upgrade our subways/el with some kind of partnership between developers, transit and the city?

^ The block 37 superstation.

That's the problem. Look how much it has been criticized. Embarrassing boondiggles like this may very well discourage future developers from working with the city on similar public-private projects.

Mr Downtown Feb 23, 2009 10:39 PM

^A rather odd example. The usual model for value capture is for the developer to pay the transit agency for the right to build on top or next door.

With Block 37, the city first closed taxpaying businesses, then demolished taxpaying buildings, then de-landmarked a building so it could be torn down, then paid a developer to take the land, then waited 20 years, then paid the developer some more, then paid a new developer a bunch more, then agreed to pay for a new subway station, then agreed to pay some more for the subway station, then decided they didn't have enough to finish the subway station.

I'm not sure we can afford many more successes like that.

Abner Feb 24, 2009 12:18 AM

Yeah, but there'll be a DQ in the basement! Or something!

firstcranialnerve Feb 24, 2009 6:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4105557)
^ The block 37 superstation.

That's the problem. Look how much it has been criticized. Embarrassing boondiggles like this may very well discourage future developers from working with the city on similar public-private projects.

Yeah, B37 went through my mind, I was wondering if there is any successful implementation of this kind of plan in this country.

I hope it is successful in the long run and leads to more development. We'll see.

In my thinking, there is going to have to be this kind of partnership functioning well to get 2016. I hope the fiasco hasn't hurt our chances too much.

Mr Downtown Feb 25, 2009 2:34 AM

^WMATA had some modest successes with joint development, I think, in the 80s. That highrise with the Safeway in Bethesda comes to mind.

arenn Feb 25, 2009 4:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4101445)
Acceleration and deceleration for electric trainsets are pretty comparable to a passenger car; diesel-electric hauled trains accelerate a little more slowly, about like an 18-wheeler. Now when you're driving up US41 to Milwaukee and make five stops for the traffic signals in Lake County, you don't lose 35 minutes. HSR to St. Louis won't have all-new right-of-way through towns where it stops, so will probably be doing 60mph max.

You are hitting on the problem and the root of my argument against this system. Having an Amtrak operated 110MPH system with average speeds probably only around 75-80MPH or less is only going to tarnish the "high speed" brand in the US. The shared freight trackage through may small towns will restrict speeds considerably despite the theoretical speed of the line.

European high speed rail, for someone who asked, runs at around 185-220MPH

arenn Feb 25, 2009 10:57 AM

I think there is a big difference between value capture and selling air rights. True value capture would involve incremental site value taxation to utilize the increases in land value created by the public investment - not private investment - in the transit system to fund transit.

Thought Experiment: What would the property values in the greater Loop be without the public transport infrastructure?

orulz Feb 25, 2009 1:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arenn (Post 4108481)
You are hitting on the problem and the root of my argument against this system. Having an Amtrak operated 110MPH system with average speeds probably only around 75-80MPH or less is only going to tarnish the "high speed" brand in the US. The shared freight trackage through may small towns will restrict speeds considerably despite the theoretical speed of the line.

European high speed rail, for someone who asked, runs at around 185-220MPH

Just to point out - you're not making an apples-to-apples comparison. You are quoting the US HSR's average speed while quoting the European top speed. European high speed rail lines average 130-150mph. Is it still a big difference? Yes. Is it as big of a difference as your statistics make it out to be? Not nearly.

Mainland Europe started in earnest to rebuild their conventional rail lines in the 60s and 70s; it was not until the 80s that they got around to building true high speed rail. They had to walk before they could run. So must we. Besides, by and large, people in the US will probably know "This train's pretty fast, but it's not as fast as those t-g-whatchamacallit in France" so they'll understand that there are further improvements that could be made.

BVictor1 Feb 25, 2009 6:52 PM

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....ff--filli.html

Chicago as a high-speed rail hub: Has the time for this idea finally come?

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....6de428a4-320wi

The conventional wisdom forming about Barack Obama's infrastructure investment is that it will take care of small stuff--filling potholes and fixing bridge decks, not building dams and bridges like those sponsored in the great public works of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

That view may well be true. But in the final round of negotiations over the stimulus bill, the White House put its political muscle behind a big increase in funding for mass transit--$8 billion, far beyond what either the House or Senate were advocating in their version of the stimulus plan. The idea, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told reporters, was to create an infrastructure program of national impact.

Now cities and regions around the country are vying for those rail funds. Among them: Groups pushing for a Midwest, high-speed rail network centered in Chicago, an idea that the Chicago Architectural Club explored last year with an ideas competition for a station for such a network (above left). It would be located just east of Union Station. Despite the practical hurdles in its way, like the two buildings now on the site, perhaps this is an idea whose time has finally come.

nomarandlee Feb 25, 2009 6:54 PM

BVic, beating me to the punch. :cool:

Mr Downtown Feb 25, 2009 7:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arenn (Post 4108481)
European high speed rail, for someone who asked, runs at around 185-220MPH

Not through the towns. While new lines have been built to bypass small towns, they have to use existing approaches through cities where they stop. There's a limit on how much those lines can be improved, and limits on how fast trains can go without endangering people standing on adjacent platforms or working in the marshaling yards.

arenn Feb 25, 2009 7:38 PM

That all may be, but having ridden high speed trains in Europe I can tell you they are nothing like the "Amtrak experience". Their average speeds are vastly higher than any envisioned officially for the Midwest system, enabling game changing journey time reductions. And in many cases their accuracy is phenomenal. Spain is getting near-Japanese levels of reliability on their service.

Mark my words, the plans for 110MPH service, if implemented and through Amtrak to boot, will destroy the brand of high speed rail in the US. If you've got to walk before you can run, at least call it walking not running.

ChicagoChicago Feb 25, 2009 8:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arenn (Post 4109654)
That all may be, but having ridden high speed trains in Europe I can tell you they are nothing like the "Amtrak experience". Their average speeds are vastly higher than any envisioned officially for the Midwest system, enabling game changing journey time reductions. And in many cases their accuracy is phenomenal. Spain is getting near-Japanese levels of reliability on their service.

Mark my words, the plans for 110MPH service, if implemented and through Amtrak to boot, will destroy the brand of high speed rail in the US. If you've got to walk before you can run, at least call it walking not running.

I agree with this. It would be fine and dandy to have 110mph trains in the US, but it shouldn’t cost us half a trillion dollars to do that, and would quite frankly be a waste of time. Getting people to consider rail instead of driving or flying between cities will take a much higher speed…as 12-16 hour trips between New York and LA. As it stands, the people that take Amtrak are the people that need to take Amtrak. Ridership won’t improve drastically if we’re still looking at multi-day trips across the US.

And Chicago would be an ideal location for a NATIONAL HSR hub. New York to LA logistally makes sense to stop here.

Taft Feb 25, 2009 8:41 PM

Hilkevitch asks a very good question: is the use of "doomsday" hyperbolic when talking about transit woes?

Quote:

Plague and pestilence? OK, 'doomsday' may be a bit much when describing CTA woes

Complaining about the CTA or Metra is a blood sport in Chicago, yet your worst experience riding the buses and trains is like a summer's day at Oak Street beach compared to being vaporized by a nuclear attack.

So why do the news media insist on referring to the prospects of a financial meltdown at the transit agencies as "doomsday"?

"Exodus describes blood, frogs, lice, murrain, incurable boils, hail, locusts, flies, darkness and the death of the firstborn son as the 10 Plagues of Passover," Anne Stern, 71, a lifelong Chicagoan and CTA rider, said in a phone call. "To me, God forbid, that's doomsday," she said.

OK, point well taken. It's just that with the clock always ticking toward the moment when the fiscal pressures of labor, fuel and other operating expenses far exceed fare-box revenues and state and local government subsidies, thus prompting transit officials to slash service, boost fares, lay off employees and make other cuts—well, "doomsday" is such a handy word.

...
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...,6612657.story

I may not always agree with him, but I think he's a heck of a reporter/columnist.

Abner Feb 25, 2009 8:59 PM

Maybe if they just called it "system shutdown" the point would come across in a more sober way.

To anyone who hasn't already, it's worth checking out Carole Brown's testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month regarding the stimulus packagae. Links with video at http://ctachair.blogspot.com/ . She basically said the CTA needs $6 billion to get to a state of good repair and would be ready to spend $500 million, like, tomorrow. (Also testifying was Gov. Doyle of Wisconsin, who gave lots of information about rail upgrades on the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison line.) The CTA didn't get anywhere near what they said they could have used in the stimulus package, and that was before they found the big hole in revenues. Now, in addition to the money they and other transit agencies could be spending immediately if they got aid, there's the giant problem of revenue shortfalls among transit agencies throughout the country. So should we expect to see another spending package soon with more aid to local government agencies?

orulz Feb 25, 2009 9:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4109712)
I agree with this. It would be fine and dandy to have 110mph trains in the US, but it shouldn’t cost us half a trillion dollars to do that, and would quite frankly be a waste of time. Getting people to consider rail instead of driving or flying between cities will take a much higher speed…as 12-16 hour trips between New York and LA. As it stands, the people that take Amtrak are the people that need to take Amtrak. Ridership won’t improve drastically if we’re still looking at multi-day trips across the US.

And Chicago would be an ideal location for a NATIONAL HSR hub. New York to LA logistally makes sense to stop here.

You're missing the point about rail travel. Who has ever talked about riding trains across the US?

The train as a practical means of transportation to travel between New York and LA met its end the day the first Boeing 707 rolled off the assembly line. Even in Europe, there are no HSR lines that can carry you 3,000 miles period, let alone without changing trains a bunch of times. Nor are there any plans to build one.

Therefore, I posit that while Chicago makes wonderful sense as a regional HSR hub for the upper midwest, there is no point of having a national HSR hub at all. If HSR ever extends west from Chicago across the plains, it will be well after both you and I are dead and gone - and even then, it will be for regional travel, rather than cross-country jaunts. HSR really doesn't make sense for travel over 1000 miles; the time difference between flying at 550mph and riding a train at 200mph is just too great.

110mph trains are absolutely NOT a waste of time or money. Yes, some might be jealous that France has trains that are faster and better than ours, but go ahead - just try gather up the $20 or $30 billion that would be needed for a brand new 200mph right-of-way from Chicago to Minneapolis. Might happen some day, but we're not there yet. Sure, we could probably scrape up enough money to get one or two such lines built nationwide in the next 20 years, but in order to start building a "train culture" in the US there needs to be a NETWORK - not a couple high speed lines in special corridors and once-a-day service throughout the rest of the country.

Next, much of the money that is being spent to do this is focused on speeding up train lines within urban areas. News flash, that's as fast as trains will ever go on approach to cities. The French slow down their trains as they approach major cities because the impact and expense of having them go faster aren't worth it. These improvements made on approach to cities could be leveraged further in the future by building new dedicated HSR lines between them.

Anyway, I'm fine with not calling it High Speed Rail; I'd rather call the program "Rapid Rail" or even just "Improvements to intercity rail", but then again I don't see why calling it High Speed Rail will cause the sky to fall. As long as it's reliable, frequent, and comfortable, 110mph will be plenty fast enough for people to love it. Once we have people hooked on rail travel, THEN those $20 billion investments will be an easier sell.

ChicagoChicago Feb 25, 2009 10:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 4109834)
You're missing the point about rail travel. Who has ever talked about riding trains across the US?

The train as a practical means of transportation to travel between New York and LA met its end the day the first Boeing 707 rolled off the assembly line. Even in Europe, there are no HSR lines that can carry you 3,000 miles period, let alone without changing trains a bunch of times. Nor are there any plans to build one.

Therefore, I posit that while Chicago makes wonderful sense as a regional HSR hub for the upper midwest, there is no point of having a national HSR hub at all. If HSR ever extends west from Chicago across the plains, it will be well after both you and I are dead and gone - and even then, it will be for regional travel, rather than cross-country jaunts. HSR really doesn't make sense for travel over 1000 miles; the time difference between flying at 550mph and riding a train at 200mph is just too great.

110mph trains are absolutely NOT a waste of time or money. Yes, some might be jealous that France has trains that are faster and better than ours, but go ahead - just try gather up the $20 or $30 billion that would be needed for a brand new 200mph right-of-way from Chicago to Minneapolis. Might happen some day, but we're not there yet. Sure, we could probably scrape up enough money to get one or two such lines built nationwide in the next 20 years, but in order to start building a "train culture" in the US there needs to be a NETWORK - not a couple high speed lines in special corridors and once-a-day service throughout the rest of the country.

Next, much of the money that is being spent to do this is focused on speeding up train lines within urban areas. News flash, that's as fast as trains will ever go on approach to cities. The French slow down their trains as they approach major cities because the impact and expense of having them go faster aren't worth it. These improvements made on approach to cities could be leveraged further in the future by building new dedicated HSR lines between them.

Anyway, I'm fine with not calling it High Speed Rail; I'd rather call the program "Rapid Rail" or even just "Improvements to intercity rail", but then again I don't see why calling it High Speed Rail will cause the sky to fall. As long as it's reliable, frequent, and comfortable, 110mph will be plenty fast enough for people to love it. Once we have people hooked on rail travel, THEN those $20 billion investments will be an easier sell.

I get your point about west coast to east coast connections. But I'm really struggling to find the significance of 110mph regional rail. Going from Chicago to Milwaukee at 110mph is great…it’s just unfortunate that I can easily average 2/3 that speed in my car, and God forbid I need to get around in Milwaukee.... The point here is that you want to be able to change people’s habits. And 110mph between regional cities isn’t going to do that.

schwerve Feb 25, 2009 10:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4109962)
I get your point about west coast to east coast connections. But I'm really struggling to find the significance of 110mph regional rail. Going from Chicago to Milwaukee at 110mph is great…it’s just unfortunate that I can easily average 2/3 that speed in my car, and God forbid I need to get around in Milwaukee.... The point here is that you want to be able to change people’s habits. And 110mph between regional cities isn’t going to do that.

step one isn't getting chicago people to milwaukee, its getting milwaukee people to chicago fast and cheap, which 110mph does very cost-effectively. that's how you change mindsets and development patterns and when milwaukee builds a nice little BRT/Streetcar system, that reverse commute suddenly becomes much easier and enjoyable and you can have a nice little symbiosis culturally and economically where suddenly higher speed rail between the two cities makes even more economic sense. let's start with step one.

orulz Feb 25, 2009 10:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4109962)
I get your point about west coast to east coast connections. But I'm really struggling to find the significance of 110mph regional rail. Going from Chicago to Milwaukee at 110mph is great…it’s just unfortunate that I can easily average 2/3 that speed in my car, and God forbid I need to get around in Milwaukee.... The point here is that you want to be able to change people’s habits. And 110mph between regional cities isn’t going to do that.

There's quite a bit of non-stop sprawl between Chicago and Milwaukee. In France, they have the advantage that once you leave the city, it's rural, and there's NOTHING there: nobody's back yard to run through, no subdivisions to avoid, no houses to take by eminent domain. The curse of suburban spral comes to bite us yet again.

Besides, in that corridor, the difference between 110mph and 220mph trains - given that the approach to Chicago and the approach to Milwaukee would be limited to 110 or 125 anyway - would be perhaps 20 minutes. That's not enough difference to justify billions of dollars. Nor is it enough to make folks like you from Chicago who need to get all around Milwaukee and its suburbs take the train instead of drive. Besides, you might not really even be the initial target for this corridor. Travelers from Milwaukee to Chicago have plenty of ways to get around once they roll in to Union Station, but again, 90 miles isn't really the sweet spot for true HSR, so 220mph and 20 minutes won't make a big difference to them at all. It would be an incremental improvement - about as big of an increment as 110mph trains will make now - and is that worth billions?

Now, if you're talking about going to Madison or Minneapolis, then the difference between 110mph and 220mph starts to grow, and that corridor is more rural and thus probably less expensive to build to boot. But the money's not there for it; not yet, anyway. Think incrementally: learn to walk before you run. That's the way to achieve REAL progress.

BVictor1 Feb 26, 2009 1:29 AM

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-b...gobusiness.com

Chicago's high-speed rail dream is arriving
Posted by Greg H. at 2/25/2009 11:42 AM CST

All aboard!

After a decade of quiet tinkering around the margins, the dream of making Chicago the center of a high-speed rail network finally is taking real shape, thanks to a massive infusion of cash tucked into President Barack Obama's stimulus bill.

Big clout -- by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin, D, and other well-placed Illinoisans -- likely guarantees that the Chicago-based network soon will get as much as $2 billion for new track, rolling stock, high-tech signals, bridges and other fixes.

If so, in as soon as three or four years, reliable train travel to St. Louis in under four hours, and Madison, Wis., in under three, will be on line, with other routes to the Twin Cities and Detroit on the way.

"The stars have started to align," says Tom Carper, the one-time mayor of Downstate Macomb who just took over as chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors. "We'll really be able to show what we can do."

Central to what's about to happen here is the $8 billion for high-speed rail included in Mr. Obama's stimulus bill -- $6 billion literally at the last moment, when most other programs were being cut to bring the overall stimulus tab to under $800 billion.

When I first wrote about this three weeks ago, the buzz was that the money had been inserted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and that the bulk of the $$$ would go to a proposed magnetic levitation (mag lev) from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

But folks like Howard Learner, a long-time high-speed-rail fan who heads Chicago's Environmental Law and Policy Center, told me otherwise. And in an under-noticed interview last week with Politico, a web-based political site, Mr. Emanuel claimed paternity of the money.

"I put it in there for the president," Mr. Emanuel said. "The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future."

Chicago still will have to compete for funding, not only with Nevada but Florida, the Northeast Amtrak corridor and other areas.

But with a Chicagoan in the White House, his chief of staff from the same town, and the Amtrak chairman, number two Senate Democrat (Durbin) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood all from Illinois, you can bet your bippy this region will get its share. Earmarks or not, all those local folk aren't going to let Mr. Reid run off with the cookie jar.

Mr. Learner is hopeful of getting $2 billion to $2.5 billion of that money. Chicago also will get a share of $1.3 billion for capital improvements that will go directly to Amtrak -- $30 million tentatively is slated for a renovated Chicago maintenance facility that will renovate and repair oft-broken cars and engines -- and Mr. Emanuel said the president will ask for an additional $1 billion in each of the next five years.

So what actually is coming?

According to George Weber, who heads the railroad unit of the Illinois Department of Transportation, 4-hour service to St. Louis and 2:45 service to Springfield can be established for a cost of $300 million to $500 million. The higher figure reflects the cost of bridges over freight line on Chicago's Southwest Side that often delay Amtrak service.

The bridges, known as flyovers, wouldn't change schedules much but would make those schedules much more reliable.

While most work on the St. Louis line can be done fairly quickly, thanks to improvements already made in recent years, it could take some years to design, win environmental approval for, and build the flyovers, Mr. Weber says.

The next best bet, according to Mr. Weber and others, is the Madison line, which eventually could be extended to Minneapolis/St. Paul. From Chicago, trains would travel the same route as existing 87-minute service to downtown Milwaukee, then travel at 110 miles per hour west to Madison on tracks Wisconsin wants to upgrade.

To the east, Amtrak already owns and has begun work upgrading track in Michigan that ends up in Detroit. But officials in Indiana have not made a priority of upgrading tracks on their portion of the proposed Chicago/Detroit link, at least so far.

To those who might question whether this all is boon or boondoggle, Mr. Weber notes that ridership has soared on the Chicago/St. Louis line the last few years "despite mediocre equipment and performance." Ridership is projected to more than double again, to 1.2 million, with new equipment and faster service the stimulus money should provide, he says.

Now, we're not exactly talking bullet trains here. At best, the service envisioned under the stimulus bill will fund trains travelling at no more than 110 miles per hour.

But local train fans will take that, at least as a first step. And at a time when getting out of O'Hare seems to take at least two hours a trip, any step is helpful.

Bigger plans, for true high-speed, not higher-speed rail, could come later, Mr. Learner says. "The federal funding is a real breakthrough."

the urban politician Feb 26, 2009 2:26 AM

Damn, I"m so glad McCain wasn't elected..


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