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VivaLFuego Jan 10, 2007 9:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pip (Post 2557854)
I have read many people complain about lack of funding for the CTA but I do have to ask do you really think the CTA is responsible enough to handle the money.

The CTA is a disgrace. The trains are packed during rush hour. I have to wait for several trains to go by even to squish on the train that will crawl making me wonder if walking is faster. And now they are going to cut the number of trains by 40% during rush hour. Jesus.

I have had it with the CTA. The Republican suburbs are right. Time for the CTA to go. I do not blame them one bit for not wanting to fund the CTA. It screws up everything. How much over budget and behind schedule is the Brown Line reconstruction so far. It has barely begun. Why through money at this organization?

Obviously I have to chime in here. How do you propose the CTA reconstruct the Belmont and Fullerton stations if not by 3-tracking? There is no other way to stage the construction. I think you'll find with lower train frequency, trains actually move faster because as of right now, the Brown Line tracks are at maximum capacity at rush hour (Brown + purple = trains about every 90-120 seconds), which is why these trains crawl. Expanding capacity on the Brown is being done exactly so train frequency can be decreased at rush hour when its a total mess. And I ride the Brown at peak rush often, and some trains are packed, some are only around 60% capacity, because the schedule gets staggered. Basically, now every single train will be crush-loaded. They manage to survive that in Tokyo...

Operationally, the only thing CTA can do to mitigate the damage of reducing to 3-tracks is run extra buses on parallel routes like the lakeshore express buses, which they plan on doing. Basically most Red and Brown riders should consider switching to a bus ride on the way home for Phase 1 and 2 of 3-tracking (I think Phases 3 and 4 will impact the inbound side). CTA could do a nice customer service project by making a website offering the best alternative for a certain location, i.e. if you're nearer the lake, take an express bus, if you live up in Ravenswood or Rogers Park, take Metra, , if youre in central or west Lincoln Park/Lakeview take the #11 or #22 bus to downtown etc.

Also, the Brown Line project is about 35% complete and to my knowledge almost exactly on budget, if anything a bit under budget because of the drastic cost-cutting revisions to station design and construction staging. They will also easily complete the entire project by the deadline of December 2009 (or December 2008 for the Fullerton station).

MayorOfChicago Jan 10, 2007 9:46 PM

Welcome to transit in America!! They're completely trashing the commute for 185,000 people per day. DOUBLE the time to get home? Lose almost 40 rush hour trains? It's going to be a diaster. Hello carpool, goodbye CTA pass.


North Side 'L' riders: Expect 2 years of delays

Tribune staff report
Published January 10, 2007, 2:36 PM CST


Commuters who ride CTA trains on the city's North Side will face more than two years of crowded trains and longer travel times as the transit agency rebuilds station platforms as part of the $530 million Brown Line reconstruction project.

The latest phase of the project, set to begin in April and continue through 2009, will reduce capacity by as much as 25 percent on the four-track mainline that carries trains of the Brown, Red and Purple Express Lines between the Belmont and Fullerton stations.

The elevated tracks traverse the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods and are among the CTA's busiest, handling about 1,000 trains and 185,000 customers on a typical weekday, CTA officials said.

While construction is underway, trains in the area will be able to use only three tracks instead of the usual four, according to plans unveiled today at the CTA Board meeting.

Though trains will continue to make all station stops, one northbound track must be taken out of service while station platforms are rebuilt and tracks are reconfigured to allow room for elevators.

That means the evening rush, when the bulk of commuters are heading north from downtown, will be most affected. But the number of southbound trains must be reduced as well to prevent a bottleneck on the other end.

"You should budget at least double the amount of time to get home and 50 percent additional time to get to work,'' said Michael Shiffer, CTA vice president of planning and development.

"Trains will be more crowded. It will be difficult to board during rush hours," Shiffer said.

Evening rush-hour capacity for northbound riders will be reduced by 25 percent, the equivalent of more than 17,400 customers, he said. Thirty-one fewer northbound Brown, Red and Purple Line trains will operate during this time.

The morning rush will lose 13 percent of its southbound capacity, or 16 trains carrying up to 8,600 riders, officials said. Unexpected problems with track switches and service disruptions will only add to the delays, CTA president Frank Kruesi warned. "If we have one hiccup with three tracks, it will multiply the problems we would have had with four tracks," he said.

For the last 18 months, the CTA has prepared for this phase of the project, adding crossovers, updating signals and constructing new tracks at Belmont and Fullerton, Kruesi said.

To alleviate crowding downtown, the CTA will run both Brown and Purple Line trains in the same direction around the Loop. Both will use the outer elevated track currently used by Brown Line trains.

Brown Line trains from Kimball Avenue in the Albany Park neighborhood take the outer track and circulate counter-clockwise around the Loop. Purple Line Express trains from Evanston currently take the inner track and run clockwise around the Loop.

As they do now, Red Line trains from Howard Street on the city's Far North Side will continue to use the State Street subway to connect with the southern portion of the line to 95th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

CTA officials recommended that customers consider such alternates as buses and Blue Line and Metra trains.

pip Jan 10, 2007 10:03 PM

From the article.

That means that during the evening, when most trains are headed north, all Red Line and Brown Line and Purple Line trains will be using just one track from Armitage north to the Clark Junction between Belmont and Addison.

One track. LOL.

You think there are delays now. No joke, it will soon be quicker to walk home than to take the CTA?

Taft Jan 10, 2007 10:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2557891)
Obviously I have to chime in here. How do you propose the CTA reconstruct the Belmont and Fullerton stations if not by 3-tracking? There is no other way to stage the construction. I think you'll find with lower train frequency, trains actually move faster because as of right now, the Brown Line tracks are at maximum capacity at rush hour (Brown + purple = trains about every 90-120 seconds), which is why these trains crawl. Expanding capacity on the Brown is being done exactly so train frequency can be decreased at rush hour when its a total mess. And I ride the Brown at peak rush often, and some trains are packed, some are only around 60% capacity, because the schedule gets staggered. Basically, now every single train will be crush-loaded. They manage to survive that in Tokyo...

Operationally, the only thing CTA can do to mitigate the damage of reducing to 3-tracks is run extra buses on parallel routes like the lakeshore express buses, which they plan on doing. Basically most Red and Brown riders should consider switching to a bus ride on the way home for Phase 1 and 2 of 3-tracking (I think Phases 3 and 4 will impact the inbound side). CTA could do a nice customer service project by making a website offering the best alternative for a certain location, i.e. if you're nearer the lake, take an express bus, if you live up in Ravenswood or Rogers Park, take Metra, , if youre in central or west Lincoln Park/Lakeview take the #11 or #22 bus to downtown etc.

Also, the Brown Line project is about 35% complete and to my knowledge almost exactly on budget, if anything a bit under budget because of the drastic cost-cutting revisions to station design and construction staging. They will also easily complete the entire project by the deadline of December 2009 (or December 2008 for the Fullerton station).

You are focusing way too much on facts, man. Think with your gut. F&*% system improvements! This is impacting *my* commute, so I'm obviously against it.

Seriously though, this does blow. But I agree that there is pretty much no way around it. The only option I can think of is to create an entire parallel set of tracks while construction on existing tracks is happening. This is almost certainly not feasible, not only from a money perspective, but where the hell are they going to put the tracks? How much property would they have to buy to make this viable? How many buildings would have to come down? There's no way it is worth it.

Pip, do you care to respond to Viva's info showing the brown line project is actually being run semi-competently? On budget, close to on time--how many highway projects can boast the same? I know the CTA aren't perfect, but give credit where credit is due, especially in this period of huge jumps of construction costs.


On a completely unrelated topic...

Viva, you might be in the know on this: it seems to me that most of the backup problems between clyborn/chicago and the clark junction on the brown and red lines comes from the switching they have to do at the clark junction. Is this pretty much the reality of the situation?

If so, are there any alternatives to switching here? I'm thinking an over-under kind of deal. I'm pretty ignorant of the engineering practicality of such a solution, but you'd think there would be something else they could do there.

Taft

Taft Jan 10, 2007 10:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pip (Post 2558007)
From the article.

That means that during the evening, when most trains are headed north, all Red Line and Brown Line and Purple Line trains will be using just one track from Armitage north to the Clark Junction between Belmont and Addison.

One track. LOL.

You think there are delays now. No joke, it will soon be quicker to walk home than to take the CTA?

I think the crains article got this wrong. Compare it to the Tribs coverage.

If this is right, it is likely to be very temporary. However, from what I've read, they will take down a single set of tracks at a time, leaving three still in operation. Anyone in the know care to comment?

Taft

MayorOfChicago Jan 10, 2007 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Taft (Post 2558078)
I think the crains article got this wrong. Compare it to the Tribs coverage.

If this is right, it is likely to be very temporary. However, from what I've read, they will take down a single set of tracks at a time, leaving three still in operation. Anyone in the know care to comment?

Taft

Well the "one track" was talking about going north. Southbound will have two tracks. The Crains got it right, just worded it different.

My question....

If they're using one track, that means that after armitage brown/purple line trains will move over to the red line track at fullerton where they're doing work. Then after that I assume they're moving back to the 4 track structure right? How else would they stop at Diversey and Wellington? They said they wouldn't close two stops next to each other (Diversey and Wellington are), but if they have the brown line trains use the red line track they can't access either of those stations.

Are they going to switch back to the far east track for those two stations then switch to the red line AGAIN when they go through Belmont? They said it was single track from N. of Armitage to the Clark junction.

Do you think they'll close Diversey and Wellington northbound during this period? That's a lot of track switching otherwise. At the same time Wellington and especially Diversey are very heavily used Brown line stations compared to the rest (save Fullerton and Belmont of course). It would be chaos to have ALL those people trying to use Belmont and Fullerton stations, which are already crowded and now under construction.

I use Diversey, and clearly am going to find another way of getting around. It's going to be a mess, especially right there in the heart of all the contruction.

pip Jan 10, 2007 11:23 PM

Pip, do you care to respond to Viva's info showing the brown line project is actually being run semi-competently? On budget, close to on time--how many highway projects can boast the same? I know the CTA aren't perfect, but give credit where credit is due, especially in this period of huge jumps of construction costs.

You mean the project that was suppose to keep all the stations open? The one were the CTA forget to get permits? The one where each station that is now closing is way over budget? The one were stations that have not closed yet are already way over budget?

Article after article from the Suntimes, the Tribune, local tv stations, Crains, etc all claim the CTA Brown Line Project is full of delays and cost over runs.

Here is one example:
http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/118664....ntentId=233902

This is the system that cannot run trains as it is, just ride one and tell me what you think, let alone be trusted to fix the Brown Line.

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 2:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2557967)
I always wondered of a way to finance modernizing dilapadated rail systems, like the cta and amtrak. What if the federal goverment makes a 15 year or 30 year commitment to provide a stream of 300 million a year to the CTA. Then the CTA could go out in the private capital markets and secure a bond issue with this secured revenue stream, and with the proceeds agrresively modernize their system.

A 15 year bond issue with a 300 million yearly stream should provide about 3 billion.

The Feds and Amtrak should do the same on a much larger scale. I think the improoved effiency of modernized rail systems will more than offset the cost of the financing streams.

Good idea but its been done for quite some time and is ongoing. It's pretty common for CTA to go out to the bond market with bonds backed by capital money from the state and feds. In fact I think just a few months ago CTA issues about $270 million in bonds to pay for capital projets (with a large chunk for the new rail cars)

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 3:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pip (Post 2558007)
From the article.

That means that during the evening, when most trains are headed north, all Red Line and Brown Line and Purple Line trains will be using just one track from Armitage north to the Clark Junction between Belmont and Addison.

One track. LOL.

You think there are delays now. No joke, it will soon be quicker to walk home than to take the CTA?

Brown, Purple, Pink, and Green line trains all share one track already downtown.......basically you can do it as long as the signal system has short enough signal blocks to allow the trains to get close to eachother.

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 3:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Taft (Post 2558069)
Viva, you might be in the know on this: it seems to me that most of the backup problems between clyborn/chicago and the clark junction on the brown and red lines comes from the switching they have to do at the clark junction. Is this pretty much the reality of the situation?

If so, are there any alternatives to switching here? I'm thinking an over-under kind of deal. I'm pretty ignorant of the engineering practicality of such a solution, but you'd think there would be something else they could do there.

Taft

In the old days, this would have been an obvious location for a flyover (think like how the Orange line flies over when it merges with the green at 18th).

My understanding is that, when they were scoping out and initiating the project back in the 90s, they looked at what would be required to add a flyover for the northbound brown line just north of Belmont. Aside from huge land acquisition issues for obvious reasons, the thing could never have passed an Environmental Impact Study because of noise and visual pollution and the sheer number of properties that would have to be acquired and destroyed in the course of staging and constructing it(this is the reality of the bullshit transit has to deal with in this country....those elevated BRT lines like in Japan, South America could never happen here for 'environmental' reasons)

Long story short, cost estimates for the Clark Junction flyover were in the $100 million ballpark (!!!) and it was deemed politically unfeasible even if there was a way to get the money for it.

Rail Claimore Jan 11, 2007 3:08 AM

The whole mess that is the north side el makes me glad I live on the near west.

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 3:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pip (Post 2558188)
Pip, do you care to respond to Viva's info showing the brown line project is actually being run semi-competently? On budget, close to on time--how many highway projects can boast the same? I know the CTA aren't perfect, but give credit where credit is due, especially in this period of huge jumps of construction costs.

You mean the project that was suppose to keep all the stations open? The one were the CTA forget to get permits? The one where each station that is now closing is way over budget? The one were stations that have not closed yet are already way over budget?

Article after article from the Suntimes, the Tribune, local tv stations, Crains, etc all claim the CTA Brown Line Project is full of delays and cost over runs.

Here is one example:
http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/118664....ntentId=233902

This is the system that cannot run trains as it is, just ride one and tell me what you think, let alone be trusted to fix the Brown Line.

There was alot of costernation over the 6-month delay in construction to the Sedgwick, Chicago, and Armitage stations, but this was because the Contractor (Paschen) didn't tell the CTA about permits it would need, and the City later dragged its feet (for months and months) in issuing the permits.

Given that they had to revise all the Brown Line specs to trim $100 million in cost savings, the thing is exactly on schedule (and the initial faulty estimate can be blamed on a very small group of individuals, some of whom are no longer at CTA......NOT the entire organization).

So far CTA has awarded $340 million in construction contracts, with only 1 left to award (for Communications upgrades: fiber, etc). The construction budget was well over $400 million. You do the math.

I mean, I could give a little reason or story behind each of these hiccups, and for sure, some people should be held responsible (you'll note CTA recently replaced their Executive Vice President of Engineering/Construction). I just wish there was a way to convince you that people at CTA, RTA, Metra, Pace, CDOT, plus the private companies like Parsons, TransSystems are all very passionate and very competent about providing good transit in Chicago, but the money and political will to do so simply isn't there sometimes.

pip Jan 11, 2007 4:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rail Claimore (Post 2558775)
The whole mess that is the north side el makes me glad I live on the near west.

You are in Chicago now? Wow. It has been a couple of years since we all met.

VivaLFuego, sorry for jumping down your throat before.

brian_b Jan 11, 2007 12:34 PM

While this work is going on, the Cubs better forget about weekday 7:15 starts. They better all be day games or 8:05 starts.

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 4:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pip (Post 2558897)

VivaLFuego, sorry for jumping down your throat before.

It's cool. As frustrating as the Chicago transit woes are for Joe Q. Public, imagine how it is for the transit geeks who live and breathe this stuff....

Marcu Jan 11, 2007 7:25 PM

CTA riders are in for a rail mess
North Side work may double travel times

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter
Published January 10, 2007, 10:57 PM CST


Commuters who thought the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction failed to live up to all the hype about traffic gridlock should try riding the most heavily traveled CTA rail corridor starting in the spring.

That is, if they can somehow squeeze aboard a train.

Capacity on many parts of the rail system now is full at the height of the morning and evening rush. And things will get even worse as the CTA starts the next and most disruptive phase of its $530 million Brown Line expansion project.

Travel times are expected to as much as double when one out of the four tracks used by the Red, Brown and Purple/Evanston Express Lines between the Armitage and Addison stations will be taken out of service from about April 2 through the end of 2009, transit officials said Wednesday.

The elevated tracks traverse the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods and are among the CTA's busiest. The corridor carries 185,000 passengers on about 1,000 trains each day.

The almost three-year, 25 percent reduction in the corridor's track capacity is the painful price for expanding service enough to meet future ridership growth, CTA officials warned in providing the first details of the plan.

The phased-in changes will allow the CTA to keep the rail lines open while expanding platforms at the Belmont and Fullerton stations and building new tracks. Trains will continue to make all station stops.

But waiting and boarding times will rise, and trains will fill up earlier on their routes while the work is being done.

So start making alternative plans to ride the bus or Metra trains. Carpool. Go buy a good pair of walking shoes. Pump up the tires in your bicycle or motor scooter. Switch your travel times to earlier or later in the day. Or maybe ask your boss for a three-year sabbatical.

Starting in April, northbound Red, Brown and Purple Line trains will share one track for part of the way from south of Fullerton to north of Belmont, then be switched back to the regular two-track configuration.

Southbound trains will operate on two tracks as normal—the outside track for the Brown and Purple Lines and the inside track for the Red Line.

Train schedules will be pared to accommodate the reduction in tracks. Running the same number of trains would create horrendous bottlenecks at crossover points where trains merge onto a single track near the stations, officials said.

The Purple Line schedule will be cut back the most, officials said. Purple Line riders will be encouraged to ride the all-stop Red Line instead.

To alleviate crowding downtown, Purple Line trains, which normally run clockwise around the Loop, will switch to the counterclockwise direction on the outer track, as the Brown Line does, officials said.

The crunch will be worst during the evening rush for northbound commuters on the three lines sharing one track for a portion of the routes.

But transit officials say the impact will be felt on other rail routes too.

"Depending on where you live, in an extreme case you should budget up to double the amount of time to get home and 50 percent additional time to get to work in the morning," said Michael Shiffer, CTA vice president of planning and development.

"Trains will be more crowded. It will be difficult to board during rush hours," Shiffer told the CTA board, adding that commuting times should improve over time as people adapt to new travel patterns and as the CTA hopes to add back some trains.

The service changes are still nearly three months away, but as word spread Wednesday, CTA customers started to worry.

"Does the CTA want to get rid of all of its riders? That's one way to alleviate overcrowding on trains," said a commuter named Katharine who did not want her full name used.

"It currently takes 45-plus minutes to get from the Loop to the Kimball station" on the Brown Line, she said. "It is now going to be 1? hours to travel 9 miles as the crow flies?"

Capacity will be reduced by 16 trains, or about 8,640 passengers, on southbound runs between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., the CTA said.

The cuts will be twice as deep later in the day.

Northbound between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., there will be 31 fewer trains—reducing passenger capacity by 17,460 passengers—because the Red, Brown and Purple Line trains will temporarily share one track at the Fullerton and Belmont stations. The two stations are being relocated and replaced with larger facilities.

CTA officials say the impact of three-track operations will stretch as far as the Addison station to the north and the Armitage stop to the south.

And that's if everything goes according to plan, which would be almost unprecedented for the CTA.

The rail system has been plagued in recent months by a series of fires, derailments and track-switching problems that have snarled operations and delayed commuters, who are becoming increasingly impatient with the transit agency.

Referring to the possibility of balky track switches and other disruptions during the three-track operations, CTA president Frank Kruesi acknowledged, "If we have one hiccup, it will multiply the problems we would have had with four tracks."

CTA officials say they are getting the word out now in the hope that transit riders will find alternative travel choices.

Higher ridership is expected on the Blue Line and some bus routes due to riders switching commuting patterns, officials said. Some equipment may be shifted to the Blue Line to help operations there, Kruesi said.

Some North Side rail commuters are expected to try the express bus routes on North Lake Shore Drive or regular bus routes on major arterial roads, including Clark and Halsted Streets, Lincoln Avenue and Broadway. Shuttle buses will also operate at least initially to take passengers beyond the Fullerton-Belmont area and link them with trains at other stations or regular bus routes, officials said.

VivaLFuego Jan 11, 2007 8:56 PM

I wonder how much it would cost to temporarily remove most of the seats from the railcars (all except for those on the ends, perhaps), to greatly increase capacity on the less-frequent trains.

spyguy Jan 11, 2007 10:20 PM

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/2...011107.article

Aldermen: CTA a 'third-world transit system'

January 11, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN
City Hall Reporter

Calling Chicago a world-class city with a “third-world transit system,” a pair of aldermen vowed Thursday to hold City Council hearings into derailments, mechanical breakdowns and daily service delays that have made their constituents’ lives miserable.

Aldermen Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Joe Moore (49th) are accusing CTA President Frank Kruesi of “gross incompetence” even before capacity cuts of up to 25 percent slated to begin April 2 and continue for two years. Cuts are tied to the next phase of Brown Line reconstruction.

They’re upset about the Blue Line derailment last summer, the Red Line evacuation in November and about countless other service delays that never made headlines.

They’re furious about the increasing number of “slow zones” and about the CTA’s decision to spent $385 million to build a Block 37 “super-station” when their neighborhood stations are “crumbling.”

“It’s unconscionable that a city as great as Chicago has a third-world transit system. That’s really what the CTA has become,” Moore said.

“It’s already bad and the slowdowns as a result of work on the Brown Line are going to make it that much worse. That’s why it behooves us to get to the bottom of this or you’re not going to have anybody riding the CTA anymore. They’ll walk away in disgust.”

Munoz added, “It’s obvious that, with all of the delays and breakdowns, the CTA has got to do something differently. We want hearings to find out what they’re doing wrong and be able to help them find the money to be a better transit system.”

Mayor Daley reacted defensively to the City Council broadside, the second against the CTA in the last month by aldermen who previously demanded the return of CTA conductors.

The mayor argued that Kruesi, his longest-serving adviser, is doing a “good job” under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

“Gross incompetence — by them [aldermen]?” Daley said, facetiously suggesting that the CTA close lines that run through the wards of aldermen who don’t want to put up with reconstruction-related delays.

“When you take the amount of people that are moved in and out of the CTA, they do a tremendous job. Remember, we haven’t gotten any state funding for how many years for operating costs…There’s service disruptions because, unfortunately, it’s an old L system. Think about it. That system is very, very challenging and old.”

the urban politician Jan 12, 2007 2:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spyguy (Post 2560261)

“Gross incompetence — by them [aldermen]?” Daley said, facetiously suggesting that the CTA close lines that run through the wards of aldermen who don’t want to put up with reconstruction-related delays.

“When you take the amount of people that are moved in and out of the CTA, they do a tremendous job. Remember, we haven’t gotten any state funding for how many years for operating costs…There’s service disruptions because, unfortunately, it’s an old L system. Think about it. That system is very, very challenging and old.”

^ While Daley has a point, he once again is just sitting on his thumbs and playing the blame game.

If you can spend time and travel the world to bring Chicago the Olympics, how about putting some of that effort into getting the CTA fixed?

In a way, I almost wish the USOC or IOC would hurry up and pick another city to host the Olympics so that Daley can stop hoping for a pipe-dream solution to all this. Lets stop beating around the bush, get a bit of vision, and solve the damn problem.

LA21st Jan 12, 2007 3:26 AM

It really sucks. The new, rehabed stations arent that great after all anyway. The Red Eye has a column about public transit in the city and shows how upset Chicagoans are getting with delays, disgusting stations,leaking ceilings etc. Its not good at all.


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