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MayorOfChicago Jun 27, 2011 8:08 PM

I took the train from Belmont yesterday around 5pm and it was open - although PACKED.

They said the number of people at the parade this year was nearly 750,000, which is hundreds of thousands over the previous record of around 550,000.

You could barely get near the Belmont station at 5pm. All of Belmont, Clark, Halsted, everything was totally shut down and wall to wall people. I'm guessing the station was horribly overcrowded and they weren't running enough trains to clear the platforms.

I was reading how the city activated the office of emergency management due to uncontrollable crowd levels up and down Halsted and Belmont. The last 50 floats/participants actually had to turn right from Halsted and go down Clark Street directly to the end of the parade route - they never even made it past the staging area. Belmont station was reported to be closed down because platforms were at capacity and the situation was spinning out of control. People were crashing through barricades and crawling up fences to try to escape along Halsted. Police had to be called in from multiple surrounding districts after people started fighting and jumping on parked cars along Belmont. Areas around Diversey were also swamped, with thousands of people blocking streets and trying to exit the area. The ABC broadcasting booth at Halsted and Belmont was almost overrun at many points.

One of the big problems was thousands of people trying to exit trains at Belmont and Addison as thousands more were trying t get on. From a lot of the stories out there it looks like it was right at the breaking point all across the neighborhood for awhile - but the crowds and police were able to hold it together.

Like they said though, most people, including myself, probably didn't even realize anything was afoot except it was busy. It was an event set up to handle around 500,000 people - and 750,000 showed up. Many of them really drunk as well.

ardecila Jun 28, 2011 5:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 5330004)
Can anyone confirm if/how they plan to accommodate a future third track through the new station?

They won't. The majority of trains will stop at 35th the way Metra Electric trains stop at Roosevelt and Van Buren, and UP-Northwest/North trains stop at Clybourn. If you don't have a need for passing, then two tracks is enough for both the Rock Island and SouthWest Service. However, I believe that once the Englewood and 75th St projects are done, Metra will increase service sharply on the SWS. The travel times for SWS should drop by about 15 minutes from Wrightwood to downtown.

I really don't even know why they need a third track at all. My guess is that if community groups push for infill stations in Englewood or Washington Park (already one planned for 79th), Metra can run occasional local trains while sending the majority of trains up the express track.

Part of the reason for the third track in my mind (the only reason, really) is to allow for trains to be moved to the coach yard at the Rocket House (south of 47th). I don't know the extent of Metra's plans, so I can't say whether two tracks is enough... but the capacity of two tracks is a lot more than you might think, once freight trains are removed from the equation.

orulz Jun 28, 2011 7:32 PM

I imagine a third track would be less about absolute capacity, and more about preventing delays on one line from propagating to others.

Lasalle Street Station will eventually be the terminus for 4 lines (SWS, SES, RI Mainline, and RI Suburban line). Departures from Lasalle Street can be orchestrated so there's no conflicts, but an extra northbound track would help keep delays or disturbances on one line from affecting all the others.

Consider this scenario. A RI suburban line train is scheduled to arrive at Lasalle at 8:30 AM and a SWS train is scheduled at 8:40. For whatever reason, the RI train is delayed by 10 minutes. Hey, it happens. So they both enter the main line at the same time. With two tracks, the following train has to stop and wait for the leading train, potentially several times, for every time that the leading train makes a stop. So instead of one delayed train, you now have two. A third track allows both trains to proceed unimpeded to the terminus at Lasalle.

After the Englewood Flyover improvements, the only obvious obstacles to adding a third track from Lasalle to 89th (where the SES will split off), are:
1. The diamonds at the St Charles Air Line. This goes away when the CREATE project at Grand Crossing is built, allowing the SCAL to be deactivated.
2. The two-track bridges at Archer and 69th-72nd. This can be rectified by building another bridge to accommodate a third track.
3. The station at 35th street.

ardecila Jun 29, 2011 6:07 AM

Okay, but even in the event of a delay, you still don't need three tracks continuously from 75th to LaSalle.

If you have trains operating at different speeds on a line, then there's a need for passing and therefore a third track makes sense. The best example is BNSF, where heavy freight traffic, Amtrak, and a dense Metra schedule all fit onto only three tracks without conflict because of well-planned scheduling and crossovers.

In the case of the Rock Island, I still don't see why a 3rd track is necessary. There are no stations between 75th and LaSalle except for 35th, and all trains will stop at 35th. Therefore, all trains will have the same average speed along the corridor.

As I mentioned above, the increased utilization of the tracks in the LaSalle terminal may require Metra to store more of their trains at the Rocket House during midday. The yard moves from LaSalle to the Rocket House will not move at the high speeds of a standard passenger run, and so they might justify a third track as far south as 47th.

orulz Jun 29, 2011 2:57 PM

At least the aerial images on Google Maps show that, when those images were taken, there is already a third track (albeit sometimes disconnected from the mainline) from:
Lasalle to 15th: 3 tracks
15th-24th: 2 tracks (bridge at Archer, diamonds at SCAL)
24th-33rd: 3 tracks
33rd-35th: gap (35th street station)
35th-43rd: 3 tracks
43rd-53rd: >3 tracks (yards)
53rd-59th: 3 tracks


With the reconstruction involved in the flyovers at 63rd and 75th, that will probably in effect result in the corridor being triple-tracked from 59th to 75th as well.

If all the traffic is the same speed and follows the same stopping pattern on a single line, then you're right, you can handle a lot of traffic. The potential for delays comes when you have trains from four different branches (SWS, SES, RI Mainline, RI Suburban), and a train from one branch arrives at the mainline too close to another train. They could devise a schedule so that trains will leave their endpoints such that they will arrive at the mainline with enough padding between them, but some delays and disturbances are a fact of life. Especially if the frequency of the branch lines increase, then the padding will be reduced, and the probability of reaching the mainline at the same time as another train from a different branch increases.

In any case a third track probably won't really be needed right away, I guess as a transit nerd, and given that the infrastructure for the 3rd track is mostly already in place (and that even more of it will be in place after the flyovers at 63rd / 75th), they should at least keep the option open. Anyway that's all I have to say on this.

ardecila Jun 30, 2011 1:17 AM

If Metra is acting to preserve a third track on the Englewood Flyover (the third track must add to the cost tremendously) then that tells me they are open to the possibility of more inner-city stations.

Metra's management has historically been opposed to serving Chicago neighborhoods at a higher service level, but now the Ravenswood station is busier than any of the suburban stations on the UP-North line, and Metra management is starting to take note, allowing plans to go forward for new urban stations at 79th on the Rock Island and Peterson on the UP-North. They are also rebuilding Ravenswood to be more like a rapid-transit station, with a full canopy, a concessionaire, and multiple access points, as well as a station agent (finally!)

orulz Jun 30, 2011 3:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5333081)
If Metra is acting to preserve a third track on the Englewood Flyover (the third track must add to the cost tremendously) then that tells me they are open to the possibility of more inner-city stations.

From the CREATE P1 Fact Sheet:
This project will build a rail-rail flyover to carry the north - south Metra Rock Island line over the east-west NS/Amtrak line. The project will construct bridges that will accommodate 3 tracks to carry Metra operations over the four tracks of NS and a possible future fifth track for a high speed intercity passenger rail connection to points east and/or south.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5333081)
Metra's management has historically been opposed to serving Chicago neighborhoods at a higher service level, but now the Ravenswood station is busier than any of the suburban stations on the UP-North line, and Metra management is starting to take note, allowing plans to go forward for new urban stations at 79th on the Rock Island and Peterson on the UP-North. They are also rebuilding Ravenswood to be more like a rapid-transit station, with a full canopy, a concessionaire, and multiple access points, as well as a station agent (finally!)

Great to hear about more in-town stations on Metra. How about one more on the UP-N at Addison? Would there be any demand for a transfer to the Brown Line, and how much demand would there be for a faster trip to the (west) Loop?

ardecila Jun 30, 2011 6:15 AM

The Ravenswood ridership stats are a bit of a blip... they were inflated somewhat by people from Ravenswood and Uptown who avoided the Brown Line during the rehab project.

However, if I understand correctly, most of the ridership at Ravenswood comes from reverse commuters who bike or take the Lawrence bus to Metra, or walk. (I believe that section of Ravenswood has attracted lots of urbanites who work in the suburbs; these people have only a short walk to the station.)

The chances of an Addison station are pretty slim, I think. Metra doesn't want to deal with the rowdy Cubs fans, who always manage to overwhelm the platforms at Irving Park. So many regular riders have complained about the behavior of Cub fans that Metra has occasionally set aside a special car for them, which is closed off until Irving Park. You'd probably see a station at Belmont before one at Addison, I think, simply to discourage the Cub fans somewhat.

Other than the stations I already mentioned at Peterson/Ridge and Auburn Park/79th, I think several things will happen in the next 10-15 years:
Rebuild of Clybourn with longer platforms and ADA (this was delayed by CTA's Circle Line planning, which proposed shifting Clybourn to North)
Access improvements and additional service at Jefferson Park
Kedzie gets closed and shifted to Western (once the A2 interlocking is moved)
27th Street is closed, shifted to 31st and/or 35th
59th Street is rebuilt

If the city and Metra can ever work together, then we could see more improvements backed by TIF dollars that are coordinated with some sort of strategic plan. We'll see if Emanuel and Klein can convince Metra of the benefits of improving city service. There are lots of changes I'd make to the existing Metra network... lots of their urban stations don't make sense. Case in point: Mayfair and Grayland. I'd consolidate the two into a single station on Irving Park, which would cut in half the walking distance to Six Corners and provide for convenient transfers to the frequent Irving Park bus. A higher-quality station there might attract a decent number of reverse commuters to Old Irving, or conversely, encourage employment growth in that area. Plus, consolidating the stations would speed up Metra service and reduce their operating costs while increasing the ridership.

jpIllInoIs Jun 30, 2011 1:55 PM

Quote:

The chances of an Addison station are pretty slim, I think. Metra doesn't want to deal with the rowdy Cubs fans, who always manage to overwhelm the platforms at Irving Park. So many regular riders have complained about the behavior of Cub fans that Metra has occasionally set aside a special car for them, which is closed off until Irving Park. You'd probably see a station at Belmont before one at Addison, I think, simply to discourage the Cub fans somewhat.
Ardecila, how can you say that Metra doesn't want to deal with rowdy Cubs fans and then point out that Metra provides an additional car. Actually Metra does a remarkable job in providing special trains and additional cars for major Chicago events...Taste, Bears games, Fireworks, Cubs games, a new station for Sox fans...

But I do agree that a combined station on the UP North line at Irving and/or Addison would be great. But just don't take away the Grayland station on the Milw Dist North line, that is the station that I use for Cubs games .;)

oshkeoto Jul 1, 2011 1:06 AM

BRT plans on Western and Jeffery
 
I haven't seen this written about here, but I wrote a blog post about the CTA's revamped BRT plans--they're starting with Jeffery from downtown to 103rd and a Western-Ashland corridor from Howard to 95th. It's exciting they're doing this--I think this is the future of transit expansion in Chicago, given that we're not likely to get much L expansion other than on the fringes any time soon--but they're really half-assing it. Dedicated lanes only during rush hour, etc. Anyway, the post starts out with an explanation of BRT that I'm sure everyone here would be familiar with, but the details of the plans are about halfway down.

Sexy bus transit in Chicago

ardecila Jul 1, 2011 6:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 5333491)
Ardecila, how can you say that Metra doesn't want to deal with rowdy Cubs fans and then point out that Metra provides an additional car. Actually Metra does a remarkable job in providing special trains and additional cars for major Chicago events...Taste, Bears games, Fireworks, Cubs games, a new station for Sox fans...

Yeah, and Metra often has to hire private security guards to police the drunk sports fans, break up fights, kick the non-paying riders off the train, etc...

Sports fans and visitors to downtown events will take the train because there's no other option... the city simply doesn't contain enough parking or have enough road space to meet the extreme demand of large sporting events and festivals. Metra doesn't have to encourage these riders or market itself to them... these riders will just show up.

Quote:

But I do agree that a combined station on the UP North line at Irving and/or Addison would be great. But just don't take away the Grayland station on the Milw Dist North line, that is the station that I use for Cubs games .;)
An Irving Park station on MD-N would be just as good, especially if you could pick up a rapid bus on Irving that would get you to Clark in half the time. :tup: Addison isn't wide enough or fast enough for express service.

sammyg Jul 1, 2011 3:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5334501)
An Irving Park station on MD-N would be just as good, especially if you could pick up a rapid bus on Irving that would get you to Clark in half the time. :tup: Addison isn't wide enough or fast enough for express service.

You mean my beloved, belated X80 Irving Park express? When I lived in Lakeview I'd see hundreds of Cubs fans taking it back to the Irving Park Metra stop. (literally hundreds, CTA had 3 or more busses waiting at the end of games to fit all of them)

I think it's good - it shows that public transit is gaining popularity among suburbanites, and they'll be more willing to support funding from the state and county.

lawfin Jul 1, 2011 4:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5333081)
If Metra is acting to preserve a third track on the Englewood Flyover (the third track must add to the cost tremendously) then that tells me they are open to the possibility of more inner-city stations.

Metra's management has historically been opposed to serving Chicago neighborhoods at a higher service level, but now the Ravenswood station is busier than any of the suburban stations on the UP-North line, and Metra management is starting to take note, allowing plans to go forward for new urban stations at 79th on the Rock Island and Peterson on the UP-North. They are also rebuilding Ravenswood to be more like a rapid-transit station, with a full canopy, a concessionaire, and multiple access points, as well as a station agent (finally!)

I've spoken to Harry Osterman re the Peterson station on several occasions. Osterman was the former state rep for the area and the current 48th ward alderman. I've known Harry for a long time and I like him and think he is a good guy but i disagree with him on the peterson station idea for Metra.

I expressed the idea that the area surrounding peterson is one of the more pedestrian un-friendly parcels on the north side lake front area....if not the out right worst.

That a station there would not be easily walkable for much of the neighborhood just given the awkward positioning of the parcel; the fact the a near full 1/4 circle in a radius extending say 1/4 mile from said station is literally dead people who have a tendency not to use transit.

I suggested to him as did some other to put the station at Devon instead....this could help the west ridge business strip and the emerging strip near clark / devon....as well as their being a rather large undeveloped parcel that has set fallow for decades on the south of devon, across from S&C ( a natural ridership driver who currently uses LUnt...Devon actually would probably be more convenient for S&C actually).

I also suggested to have the Lunt stop moved to Howard.....this would affect me directly as Lunt is my Metra stop.

It just seemd to me the Peterson stop is going to be a clusterfuck of an already clusterfuck....with little ancillary benefit to any business strips...versus the realignment to Devon and to Howard (not to mention a tie in to Redline /Yellow / Purple lines).

He actually thought these suggestions were a good idea....but in his words he was more concerned with the traffic passing through his ward.....ie the traffic passing via ridge, and to lesser extents hollywood and bryn mawr....ie where northwest siders and near suburbanites barrel down peterson / ridge through edgewater. And that Devon was not his ward so he wasn't that concerned about it.....that was irritating.


I have also written to Jan Schakowsky (sp??) re ths.

ardecila Jul 1, 2011 10:37 PM

At first glance, I like your idea. The Metra-CTA transfer at Howard would be a long one, but I made that trip frequently last summer and usually took the frustrating Metra-Purple-Red, or occasionally walked from Lunt Metra to Morse on the Red Line.

ardecila Jul 1, 2011 10:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 5334693)
You mean my beloved, belated X80 Irving Park express? When I lived in Lakeview I'd see hundreds of Cubs fans taking it back to the Irving Park Metra stop. (literally hundreds, CTA had 3 or more busses waiting at the end of games to fit all of them)

I think it's good - it shows that public transit is gaining popularity among suburbanites, and they'll be more willing to support funding from the state and county.

Better than the X80, actually. Irving Park is one of the few east-west streets on the North Side to have 4 traffic lanes (Peterson does also).

That makes Irving Park an ideal candidate for median bus lanes, or as I suggested earlier, a light-rail line from Harlem-Irving to the lakefront. The express buses or light-rail trains would stop every 1/2 mile with occasional 1/4-mile stations at major traffic generators.

emathias Jul 1, 2011 11:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5335038)
At first glance, I like your idea. The Metra-CTA transfer at Howard would be a long one, but I made that trip frequently last summer and usually took the frustrating Metra-Purple-Red, or occasionally walked from Lunt Metra to Morse on the Red Line.

Wouldn't it be better in the long term to just extend the Red Line to Linden, as is already planned, for the (much easier) transfer at Davis?

ardecila Jul 2, 2011 7:10 AM

Wait... since when is CTA planning this? Current plans have the Purple Line running as a full-time "express" service to the Loop, with a few new intermediate stops at Loyola and Wilson. Red Line service will continue to terminate at Howard, because that's where the loop track and yards are.

Getting from a local North Side station (say, Berwyn) to the Metra UP-N line should be a one-seat ride. The facilities to turn around North Side local trains exist at Howard, so they can't go further north than that without overloading the Purple Line. Howard is where the Metra station needs to be.

An enclosed connection would be great (they could build a passageway between the buildings along Howard, and the south side of the yard). However, even a basic sidewalk widening on Howard would do the trick; Howard's sidewalks are currently uncomfortable and narrow, and that (along with the obvious crime issues) are keeping the area depressed.

emathias Jul 3, 2011 3:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5335317)
Wait... since when is CTA planning this? Current plans have the Purple Line running as a full-time "express" service to the Loop, with a few new intermediate stops at Loyola and Wilson. Red Line service will continue to terminate at Howard, because that's where the loop track and yards are.
...

The subway alternative, which I think makes the most sense for a variety of reasons, would run the Red to Linden.

ardecila Jul 3, 2011 4:25 PM

How long are the platforms at Belmont and Fullerton? One of the sketches in the RPM display boards showed a renovated Berwyn/Foster station with two entrances and a ten-car Red Line train in the station.

Assuming all the stations from Addison-Howard are rebuilt, how easy would it be to introduce ten-car service on the Red Line? Can Belmont, Fullerton, and the subway/Dan Ryan stations support longer trains?

emathias Jul 3, 2011 5:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5336069)
How long are the platforms at Belmont and Fullerton? One of the sketches in the RPM display boards showed a renovated Berwyn/Foster station with two entrances and a ten-car Red Line train in the station.

Assuming all the stations from Addison-Howard are rebuilt, how easy would it be to introduce ten-car service on the Red Line? Can Belmont, Fullerton, and the subway/Dan Ryan stations support longer trains?

Fullerton and Belmont were designed so that the current platforms are 8-car platforms, but the tracks were laid such that the platforms can be extended to accommodate 10-car trains without the tracks being changed.


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