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CTA Gray Line Jan 13, 2014 9:37 AM

Audit might get badly needed Metra answers
 
http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/248...a-answers.html

Updated: January 13, 2014 2:12AM

On a chilly Metra platform Friday, a passenger exhausted by numerous train delays and cancellations jokingly asked if the rail agency had somehow offended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

It was a bad week for Metra, as stranded commuters at remote depots shivered during lengthy delays and others stood cheek by jowl in downtown stations waiting for a train — any train — to pull out. Signals, switches and locomotives all were breaking down. Lack of funding for maintenance and improvements is part of Metra’s problem — the region’s transit agencies have a $19.8 billion existing backlog in capital needs — but another problem might be the series of leadership scandals that have rocked the agency in the last few years. If the turmoil has taken a toll, that’s going to show up in the system’s performance.....


....We need to learn if Metra is structured to get the best possible use of its resources. An RTA audit could do that.

CTA Gray Line Jan 13, 2014 10:03 AM

Deep freeze points up Metra's hot mess
 
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/artic...664I0084245F5D

Chicagoans take for granted the railways that car-bound commuters in cities such as Los Angeles and Houston envy. For more than a century, a web of rail lines has whisked passengers past Chicago's crowded streets and highways, carrying them to the Loop and back again. The system has its glitches but, for the most part, the city's rails have been a boon for employers and workers alike.....


....From its earliest days, Chicago has been in the business of moving people and stuff around. It's what we do—and, historically, we've done it well. But the state, the city and the federal government need to better fund rail in particular and public transportation in general if Chicago is to remain a strong metropolitan area that can attract jobs and people.

Busy Bee Jan 13, 2014 2:22 PM

Electrification would be a start.

k1052 Jan 13, 2014 3:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 6404489)
Electrification would be a start.

Metra's intransigence is almost legendary at this point. They never do anything until either embarrassed repeatedly by the press or are required by law.

The agency's leadership need to be rebuilt with people who both know operations and aren't terrified of actually having to implement change that would be of benefit to the customers they serve. I would have a hard time suggesting that they receive billions for a major project until that comes to pass.

CTA Gray Line Jan 13, 2014 8:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 6404554)
Metra's intransigence is almost legendary at this point. They never do anything until either embarrassed repeatedly by the press or are required by law.

The agency's leadership need to be rebuilt with people who both know operations and aren't terrified of actually having to implement change that would be of benefit to the customers they serve. I would have a hard time suggesting that they receive billions for a major project until that comes to pass.

PROTECT YOUR FIEFDOM at A N Y and A L L costs......

chiguy123 Jan 14, 2014 7:19 PM

RPM Project: Getting Closer
 
From Curbed (Crains): Link

The CTA's pending reconstruction of the Red and Purple lines north of Belmont Avenue got some good news yesterday. Congress reached agreement on a bill that would spend $120 M on a transit program and the CTA is expected to get a whopping amount of that. There are still hurdles left. Once the bill is passed the CTA will have to negotiate terms with the U.S. Department of Transportation. If it all goes as planned, reconstruction could double el ridership on the 10-mile stretch of track north of Belmont, which is suffering from century-old stations and track structure.

hygge Jan 14, 2014 8:38 PM

CTA Red/Purple Reconstruction
 
[QUOTE=chiguy123;6406202]From Curbed (Crains): Link

The CTA's pending reconstruction of the Red and Purple lines north of Belmont Avenue got some good news yesterday. Congress reached agreement on a bill that would spend $120 M on a transit program and the CTA is expected to get a whopping amount of that. There are still hurdles left. Once the bill is passed the CTA will have to negotiate terms with the U.S. Department of Transportation. If it all goes as planned, reconstruction could double el ridership on the 10-mile stretch of track north of Belmont, which is suffering from century-old stations and track structure.[/QU

Does anybody know where the other 4 billion is coming from to do a complete reconstruction? Doesn't the CTA preferred alternative (best choice imo) cost at least 4b? If this does happen I hope Chicago really gets its urban planning act together or this will just turn into a giveaway to NIMBYs. This could be a huge opportunity for Rahm.

ardecila Jan 14, 2014 9:27 PM

Yeah, $120M is a tiny fraction of this project's cost. The recent stations renovation cost $80M alone.

Even if this is a new yearly appropriation and Chicago gets 2/3 of the amount, it would still take 50 years of appropriations.

CTA has been examining the idea of private funding, though. The north lakefront is Chicago's densest corridor with significant potential for ridership growth. Obviously getting around the local aldermen to allow intense development around stations is a key part of the proposal.

The new Wilson station will be kind of a test. Once all the kinks are worked out, it could be a template to apply on the other RPM stations to reduce costs without the kind of clumsy cost-cutting we saw on the Brown Line.

Wright Concept Jan 14, 2014 11:00 PM

Has there been any rough order costs of how much it would cost to grade separate Clark Junction which is the where the frequency bottleneck is located?

ardecila Jan 15, 2014 3:57 AM

Apparently CTA is only seeking $1.5B from the Core Capacity program... the remainder would likely be grants from New Starts or state funding, or possibly private funding and/or some bonding against revenue increases.

I believe Viva mentioned an estimate for the Clark Junction flyover of $100M, but that was in 2007 dollars. Not only are construction costs higher now but the value of the land in Lakeview is higher as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if it cost $200M. That's setting aside the thorny political issue of building the thing, which would tower 4 stories above a pretty wealthy neighborhood and require numerous demolitions.

I've always thought it would be better to build a "fly-under" with noise walls, but it would basically require closing the alley and blocking off School St in addition to the demolitions.

oshkeoto Jan 15, 2014 4:12 AM

^ Are they expecting increases in appropriations to Core Capacity, or can they borrow against future outlays?

ardecila Jan 15, 2014 6:02 AM

I don't really know enough about the Federal budgeting process to say for sure. FTA makes often funds projects that include disbursements spread across several years, but I don't know what happens when FTA can't fund all of its commitments at the levels it promised. That's all for New Starts though.

Core Capacity is a new program and the RPM program will probably be its first large project. CTA has the option to break RPM down into smaller projects as funding allows, but that will increase costs and lengthen the timeline. The document I linked to indicates that CTA considers Clark Junction to be its biggest constraint, so they may seek Core Capacity funding in 2014 for the flyover alone. Other big constraints include the Sheridan and Loyola curves, so those may be next in line. Rebuilding the existing stations would expand capacity, but the stations aren't really a constraint on ridership or throughput right now - they're not crowded enough.

jpIllInoIs Jan 15, 2014 1:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6406903)
Apparently CTA is only seeking $1.5B from the Core Capacity program... the remainder would likely be grants from New Starts or state funding, or possibly private funding and/or some bonding against revenue increases.

Is it true that the Core Capacity program is a brand new Federal program and Chicago CTA is the only program in the country that fits the guidelines? Thank you Dick Durbin.

le_brew Jan 15, 2014 7:53 PM

Old Post Office for Transit
 
[QUOTE=We need to learn if Metra is structured to get the best possible use of its resources. An RTA audit could do that.[/QUOTE]

Metra should buy the Old Post Office to renovate, and move the south trains to that facility.

ardecila Jan 16, 2014 12:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 6407247)
Is it true that the Core Capacity program is a brand new Federal program and Chicago CTA is the only program in the country that fits the guidelines? Thank you Dick Durbin.

It's not that blatant. Plenty of other projects fit the guidelines, including DC's Red Line and numerous projects in NYC/Boston/Philly.

However, Durbin, Lipinski, and other IL congressmen who work with transportation kept CTA in the loop as the law was being written, so CTA has the inside scoop and will be first in line.

The program is intended to provide funding for older transit systems who are reinvesting in their infrastructure, so that New Starts, CMAQ, and other programs don't get bogged down with those costly projects.

CTA Gray Line Jan 16, 2014 1:58 PM

Metra double whammy: Weather delays spur RTA review, legislative hearing
 
http://www.suntimes.com/24975208-761...e-hearing.html


Updated: January 16, 2014 2:22AM

The chairman of the RTA Wednesday ordered a “post-mortem” on weather delays endured by Metra train riders last week, while lawmakers scheduled a hearing on the same topic.

The double-whammy of scrutiny erupted just as Metra had seemed to have put the buzzsaw of controversy surrounding the up to $871,000 buyout of its ex-CEO behind it.


But last week’s Chi-Beria of a cold snap and snowstorm brought Metra complaints to the forefront again......


.......However, weather-related problems lingered into this week, when UP and other riders experienced “shortened” — and packed — trains while winter-damaged cars were being repaired. Even Orseno conceded that when shortened trains are jammed with riders, conductors are unable to maneuver through them to collect fares.

By Wednesday’s evening rush hour, UP was contrite. Conductors on the UP-North line read to passengers an apology about last week’s weather-related delays and this week’s shortened trains that caused crowded cars.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

Email rrossi@suntimes.com

Twitter @rosalindrossi

Vlajos Jan 16, 2014 6:35 PM

Does anyone know why CTA hasn't updated the ridership reports? They used to do it quite regularly.

http://www.transitchicago.com/news_i...ipreports.aspx

emathias Jan 16, 2014 8:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vlajos (Post 6409437)
Does anyone know why CTA hasn't updated the ridership reports? They used to do it quite regularly.

http://www.transitchicago.com/news_i...ipreports.aspx

Maybe because the numbers are down. I wonder how much Divvy hurt them.

Vlajos Jan 16, 2014 8:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6409627)
Maybe because the numbers are down. I wonder how much Divvy hurt them.

That would be interesting to know. Divvy certainly seems to have been a success.

Wright Concept Jan 16, 2014 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6406903)
I believe Viva mentioned an estimate for the Clark Junction flyover of $100M, but that was in 2007 dollars. Not only are construction costs higher now but the value of the land in Lakeview is higher as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if it cost $200M. That's setting aside the thorny political issue of building the thing, which would tower 4 stories above a pretty wealthy neighborhood and require numerous demolitions.

I've always thought it would be better to build a "fly-under" with noise walls, but it would basically require closing the alley and blocking off School St in addition to the demolitions.

Via Google Maps, that could work the only problem is will the Brown Line train have enough transition time to "fly-under" the Elevated main line structure and make it to the other elevated Ravenswood branch line ROW BEFORE crossing Sheffield?


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