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Liz May 5, 2006 9:10 PM

I wonder if they would close slatnley's on north & elston to put a stop in there. I hope not cause that would be my and many others only reason for using such a stop, but it came across my mind as something the CTA would do.

Latoso May 5, 2006 10:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by headcase
Possible, Yes, likely? I don't think so. The brown line reconstruction project that just started a couple of months ago was given the OK to start the process back in 1999. If I remember correctly the Circle line plan was given the OK by Congress to start the process in late 2005, assuming the exact same timeline, we would be lucky to have it finished by 2015. Throw in the fact that this project is larger in scope, and I just don't think it will finished by 2016.

Isn't one of the points of getting the Olympics in 2016 to fast track many projects that otherwise would languish in CTA, city, and federal bureaocracy?

headcase May 5, 2006 11:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Latoso
Isn't one of the points of getting the Olympics in 2016 to fast track many projects that otherwise would languish in CTA, city, and federal bureaocracy?

It would take alot of time, and even more money to get the city ready for the Olympics. I think 7SD will get build before Chicago gets the 2016 games.

spyguy May 6, 2006 1:14 AM

http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/n...05-05&id=20491

Speaker Madigan throws funding curve at CTA
Provision in budget bill makes pension payments top priority


A provision quietly tucked into a Springfield budget bill has thrown an unpredictable wrench into efforts to boost funding for public transit here, potentially forcing the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to make payment of worker pensions a higher priority than providing service, keeping fares down or even paying current employees.

The clause was inserted in Senate Bill 1977 at the request of House Speaker Michael Madigan. It would require the CTA, beginning in 2009, to set aside enough money each month so that its now financially weak retirement plan is fully funded by 2059.

If the CTA failed to do so, the money instead would be paid by the Regional Transportation Authority out of subsidy funds the CTA otherwise would receive.


The bill, which mostly deals with non-transit budget matters, was approved by the Senate Thursday night and sent to Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his consideration.

CTA officials furiously worked behind the scenes in recent days to block the proposal because they estimate it could cost the agency $200 million a year—20% of its total budget—in just over two years, and immediately hurt the CTA’s ability to borrow funds by imperiling its credit rating.

The clause also comes as transit officials are preparing an effort for late this year or early in 2007 to revamp the way in which the RTA raises funds and subsidizes the region’s three public-transit operators CTA, Metra and PACE.

“This bill increases the pressure on the region to find new revenues,” said state Rep. Julie Hamos, D-Evanston, Mr. Madigan’s point person on transit. While the legislation may have “unintended” consequences, “All three operating agencies have a stake” in how the pension and wider funding issues are resolved, she said.

The CTA’s retirement system now has only about $1 billion on hand to pay the roughly $3 billion that actuaries say will be needed to cover pension benefits. System officials project they likely will be unable to pay retiree health benefits by early 2008, with the entire retirement system headed for insolvency by early in the next decade.

Mr. Madigan, who repeatedly has clashed with CTA President Frank Kruesi, was not available for comment on the pension provision. His spokesman said the speaker “believes that funding the pensions guaranteed to workers is an important need.”

The spokesman denied talk in Springfield that the provision would allow RTA to shift funds from Metra to the CTA. So did RTA Chairman James Reilly. But Ms. Hamos said that could be the case, particularly with capital funds.

Mr. Kruesi’s spokeswoman released a statement saying it is “reviewing the specific import of the legislation.” The agency does appreciate “the attention” being paid to its pension needs, the spokeswoman added.

VivaLFuego May 6, 2006 2:15 AM

Hopefully this means Madigan has some tricks up his sleeve to improve the transit funding situation in the region, otherwise CTA and their riders are FUCKED. And if Madigan doesn't, then CTA's best president in many decades (Kruesi) will be out of the job, possibly because of a political vendetta. For shame.

Norsider May 7, 2006 2:13 AM

Bottom line is that funding needs to be increased. For operations, for preventive maintenance, for salaries, for the pension fund, for everything. Mandating that the pension fund be the top priority might cause some headaches, but in reality there should be enough to fund the whole operation. Perhaps this is an end run to force a more generous funding package???

VivaLFuego May 7, 2006 5:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Bottom line is that funding needs to be increased. For operations, for preventive maintenance, for salaries, for the pension fund, for everything. Mandating that the pension fund be the top priority might cause some headaches, but in reality there should be enough to fund the whole operation. Perhaps this is an end run to force a more generous funding package???

I hope that is the case, and it means the general assembly will deal with transportation this fall. They are a lame duck since its election season so that either means:

1) nothing will get done
2) they can sneak through a tax increase to pay for stuff

If 1, then we face CTA service cuts, and the best president CTA's had in decades will be out of a job. If 2, it could be the start of a magnificent 10-15 years or so for transit in Chicago, with continued renovations and new projects like Airport Express, Circle Line, and the line extensions.

alex1 May 7, 2006 3:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
I hope that is the case, and it means the general assembly will deal with transportation this fall. They are a lame duck since its election season so that either means:

1) nothing will get done
2) they can sneak through a tax increase to pay for stuff

If 1, then we face CTA service cuts, and the best president CTA's had in decades will be out of a job. If 2, it could be the start of a magnificent 10-15 years or so for transit in Chicago, with continued renovations and new projects like Airport Express, Circle Line, and the line extensions.

Kruesi the best? He's been a disaster on so many levels. Especially when it comes to public relations...and that's where it really counts most.

Norsider May 7, 2006 9:40 PM

Let's save ourselves a little back and forth here...

Viva, let the forum know why you believe Kreusi to be such a good CTA president.

Alex, you do the opposite.

alex1 May 8, 2006 12:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Let's save ourselves a little back and forth here...

Viva, let the forum know why you believe Kreusi to be such a good CTA president.

Alex, you do the opposite.

he's a PR nightmare. He pisses off politicians instead of working with them (god help us if we get a GOP governor come November). He fails at building a consensus at the MTA for better revenue sharing between the agencies. Kruesi has done a poor job at building a consensus between city and CTA (kruesi and Daley seem to dislike one another). In short, a good leader gets other leaders to help you fight your fight instead of fighting it alone. Not only that, but Kruesi even seemed to infuriate those at Metra and Pace before having to do some damage control on that front.

he has been extremely poor with making the CTA a more transparent agency. While Carol Brown has brought forth a certain kind of transparency through her blog, it shouldn't have gone to the point of an individual shedding some light to what the hell is going on with the agency and bringing about public discourse to what the CTA could and should do better and having the CTA respond.

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 12:29 AM

He's increased service levels, quality of service, efficiency of administration, efficiency of operations, changed the internal culture of CTA to be more forward-thinking and academic, led well over $1 billion in capital improvements in his tenure, and consistently increased ridership all with a continuously decreasing operating subsidy when measured in real terms and a stagnant population in his service area.

If you compare him to past presidents, he's head and shoulders above the rest (Remember the ~15 years of declining ridership, all with an administrative staff nearly twice the size of what Kruesi has pared CTA down to?). He's not a good politician, but he's a brilliant and visionary thinker with an important grasp of the economics involved in his operation, which are exactly the qualities you want in a company President; the company Chairman and the rest of the Board of Directors ("Chicago Transit Board") should be the one with political skills, since (s)he/they represent the shareholder, which in this case, is the public.

I'd rather have a guy who knows what he's doing rather than a good bullshitter be the guy running the day-to-day operations of any organization, private or public.

People have short memories. Or rather, they have short memories for the things you do well, but if you ever piss them off, they don't forget. Unfortunately for Kruesi, he's been President for so long (relatively, at 8 years thats longer than most CTA presidents last) that people forget the great strides CTA has made and only remember the times Kruesi has pissed them off. And as time goes on, those times begin to add up.

alex1 May 8, 2006 12:36 AM

^disagree with you wildly. Kruesi came at a time when public transit was given a huge injection by the clinton administration in the U.S. Chicago wasn't the only place that saw years of decline come to an end. Almost all major transit agencies in this nation have seen big increases in the past decade. Besides, the changes he made were quite elementary and came at a time when back to the city and urban modes of transit became "cool" again.

we'll need someone else to take us into the future from a PR perspective that doesn't pit the region, the general assembly and other transit agencies against us. His work is done.


anyhow, check this analysis for the circle line:
http://www.fueledbycoffee.com/2006/0...rcle-line.html

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 3:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alex1
^disagree with you wildly. Kruesi came at a time when public transit was given a huge injection by the clinton administration in the U.S. Chicago wasn't the only place that saw years of decline come to an end. Almost all major transit agencies in this nation have seen big increases in the past decade. Besides, the changes he made were quite elementary and came at a time when back to the city and urban modes of transit became "cool" again.

we'll need someone else to take us into the future from a PR perspective that doesn't pit the region, the general assembly and other transit agencies against us. His work is done.


anyhow, check this analysis for the circle line:
http://www.fueledbycoffee.com/2006/0...rcle-line.html

What do you mean? Federal transit operating assistance ended completely during the Clinton administration...

alex1 May 8, 2006 3:05 PM

and let me ask you these questions:

1. when did the roots of relieving transit operating assistance begin?
2. who controlled congress when tea-21 was passed (not saying that Clinton nor the democrats didn't want to end FTOA)?

while both parties wanted to eradicate FTOA since the 80s (reagan years), the natural time came in TEA-21 seeing that so much more money was being given out in terms of capitol expenses. The money was given to local agencies to purchase all those shiny new buses and updated equipment which has led to more positive opinions of mass-transit in this country and this city to some degree. TEA-21 also hurt local agencies however due to losing a fairly good percentage of federal funds for operating expenses (about %10-16% in chicago's case).

my overall point is that any new president with a clear agenda to th2 public (and hence to the general assembly and city government) could have accomplished what Kruesi did and more in terms of updating transit in the city. To take things further, I think that a better president would have forged better licensing/marketing deals for higher ad revenues while forging better partnerships for funding mass transit at a city, local and state wide level.

Norsider May 8, 2006 3:29 PM

Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 5:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

Right, kick out Kruesi and we may well wind up with another Paswell, Belcaster, etc...

alex1 May 8, 2006 5:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

i'm just responding to Viva's opinion that losing Kruesi would be a bad thing. My opinion is it would be a wonderful thing if the right guy is found.

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 8:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alex1
i'm just responding to Viva's opinion that losing Kruesi would be a bad thing. My opinion is it would be a wonderful thing if the right guy is found.

It's hard to attract top notch management at public sector salaries, so if you get someone whos passionate about what he does, and intelligent to boot, i wouldn't axe him unless there's already someone eminently qualified and capable lined and willing to take the pay cut to go to CTA (I think the president of CTA makes in the ballpark of $160K/year, which may seem like alot to us but for a president of an organization with ~11,000 employees is really not so much). Would CTA fall apart if Kruesi left? No. But past presidents have seriously mucked things up while at the helm, and I see nothing wrong with Kruesi's vision for CTA sans the fact that he makes political enemies as you point out. But in an ideal world, such considerations wouldn't matter.

In a random other question, I was looking at the Carrol Ave. right of way, and the part thats bugging me most is where Clinton St. crosses the 3 busy metra tracks leading into Union Station from the North. How would it be navigated here? I can't see how they'd make a viaduct, either.

spyguy May 8, 2006 10:04 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/techno...l=chi-news-hed

Where's the darn bus?
Commuter's computer could hold answer as CTA tests satellite-tracking system

Published May 8, 2006


Looking, waiting, stewing.

Commuters crane their necks over the edge of curbs at bus stops or on train platforms, wondering when their ride will come.

Many factors--accidents, mechanical breakdowns, waiting for track signals--account for why printed transit schedules and actual operations are often minutes and miles apart.

It would be wonderful if the system were more punctual. But the helpless feeling of not knowing whether the wait will be three minutes or a quarter-hour is what ranks among the top complaints of Chicago-area transit riders. It is a major reason many commuters drive to work on congested roads even though traveling by bus or train might be quicker.

Satellite technology may soon ride to the rescue, helping to eliminate some of the suspense in transit mystery trips. It might even prevent the knots that occur when buses become bunched together on one part of a route.

Other world-class cities have used satellite-based tracking systems for more than a decade to inform waiting passengers exactly when their bus or train will arrive.

More than 2,000 electronic countdown signs have been installed in London showing the projected arrival times that buses on different routes will reach a stop. A similar system is used in the San Francisco area on all the light-rail routes and on several bus lines.

Here at home, the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority are taking baby steps.

The CTA plans to unveil this summer a next-bus countdown system on the No. 20 Madison bus route.

In late June or early July, CTA No. 20 Madison customers will be able to use their computers and wireless handheld devices that access the Internet to track the real-time locations of buses and get the estimated elapsed time until the next bus reaches a selected bus stop.

It will also give the estimated arrival time of the bus directly behind the one coming on the 10-mile-long Madison route, where scheduled intervals between buses range from about four minutes during rush hours to up to 20 minutes at night.

Riders can sign up to receive pop-up alerts on their computers or other devices when a bus is a designated number of minutes from arriving at a selected stop. So riders can stay in their office or home until the bus approaches.

One electronic sign providing next-bus information will also be posted for testing at a busy bus stop west of the downtown, officials said.

Text messaging of bus information to cell phones, pagers and other devices would be phased in later. Real-time information would also be available to phone operators assisting customers at the RTA's travel information center.

A separate rail program designed to accurately count down the arrival of the next train for passengers waiting on platforms has been mired in reliability problems during five years of testing, often incorrectly reporting the number of minutes that the next train would arrive.

A replacement train-tracking system will be undergoing tests through at least the end of the year, officials said.

The next-train testing is taking place at the CTA rail stations at O'Hare International Airport, Midway Airport, Cumberland Avenue on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line and Davis Street on the Purple Line in downtown Evanston.

Once the kinks are worked out of the $3 million pilot project, the data-communications system could be expanded in the future to tell commuters who drive to CTA or Metra park-and-ride stations whether parking spaces are available before they leave home, officials said.

"Our long-term goal is to put together a regional system that gives real travel times to riders connecting between the CTA, Metra and Pace," said Duana Love, manager of oversight and technology development at the RTA.

"So if you are a commuter transferring from the `L' to a Pace bus and there is a danger you will not make your connection on time, we will send you a message offering alternate connections," Love said.

The CTA bus-tracking system is designed to spot the locations of the agency's 2,000 buses, which are equipped with global-positioning system devices, and provide updates of each vehicle's position every 15 seconds, said John Flynn, CTA vice president of technology management.

Color-coded icons representing each bus on a route map would indicate whether a bus is on time, running ahead of schedule or late.

Dispatchers at the agency's operations center and bus supervisors on the streets would use the information to relieve bus bunching and improve service by radioing or messaging drivers to get buses back on schedule and spread out.

"The software gives us a powerful new tool to respond to bus-bunching and see what is happening along an entire route. You can tell where the gaps in service are and what the reliability looks like," said Wai-Sinn Chan, special assistant to the executive vice president of transit operation at the CTA.

That is the hope. But it is a complicated process that relies on computer programs and logarithms to not only tell where each bus is now, but also where it will be in several minutes and later, accounting for traffic flow and other factors.

If the experiment generates reliable data in testing throughout 2006, the system would be expanded over years to the CTA's 150 other bus routes on more than 2,200 route miles, officials said.

One million of the 1.5 million rides that the CTA provides each weekday are on buses. Two-thirds of the CTA's bus routes travel through the downtown.

Work on the $1.3 million bus pilot project began in 2002. CTA officials estimate it would cost at least $25 million to expand the next-bus system to all routes.

"It would be nice to know when I walk out the door whether a bus is coming shortly or that I just missed the bus and another one won't be along for 20 minutes," said Drew Weller, a North Side resident who rides the No. 50 Damen bus on days that he doesn't walk to the Brown Line rail station at Addison Street.

"You wait, you wait, you wait. You keep looking up the street. It's really annoying," said Weller, 35, a technology project manager at Northern Trust Global Investments.

Pace is using the bus-tracking data internally to improve the performance of the suburban bus system, officials said.

The scheduled wait times between buses can extend to 45 minutes or more during off-peak periods on some of Pace's longer routes, leading to long waiting times at bus stops.

Pace last year briefly provided real-time bus-tracking information on its Web site, but the agency pulled the service because of poor accuracy and reliability, officials said.

Pace plans to try again soon, and to also post the bus information on electronic kiosks that will be deployed at shopping malls and other high-traffic locations in the suburbs.

-------
Graphic:
http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/2764/233236005na.jpg

Steely Dan May 9, 2006 8:32 PM

^ i can't believe that there is currently only one train a day between chicago and st. louis. that seems like a route that could support way more than one train a day. i mean, milwaukee-chicago has got seven trains a day.


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