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VivaLFuego Dec 19, 2007 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 3236123)
^In the case of the South Chicago Metra Electric Branch, I wouldn't want to see surface trains running down the middle of 71st street or Exchange Ave. every 5-10 minutes. That would stall road traffic during peak times on major thoroughfares like Stony Island and Jeffrey and create even more dangerous situations at all of the crossings. It'd be best to build a cut-and-cover subway line for CTA that runs the same route but underground. Population density is higher in South Shore than many areas that are serviced by 'L' with CTA-style headways so it's really a shame that residents there have to wait for one train per hour during off-peak times (and I speak from experience).

Of course, South Shore residents do have the #6, #26(peak only), #X28, and #14, the latter of which runs at peak hour headways of 2-3 minutes and gets downtown in about the same amount of time as a local all-stop Metra Electric train.

I agree with you about the concern of high frequency street running service along 71st and Exchange, but only in their current state which means grade crossings every 1-2 blocks and no fencing. Put up some serious fencing along the right-of-way, and remove grade crossings to half-mile only, and your safety situation in terms of train/auto/pedestrian conflict wouldn't differ all that much from peak hour on the BNSF line.

This is an issue that requires a strong RTA with some teeth to make happen. Part of the problem with the Metra Electric service is that Metra doesn't receive any of the transit sales tax which is collected in Chicago, all of which goes to CTA, and yet a large chunk of the ME (including the entire South Chicago branch) is within city limits. Metra operates it basically as a legacy service, surviving from when they acquired the ICRR's assets. The current situation is inefficient with duplication of service, but it doesn't make sense to remove the rail, not least of which since almost all the stations have been recently renovated or are in progress. The RTA should dedicate some of its discretionary operating funds to support higher-frequency service on the branch at the expense of parallel CTA service (since such a diversion would undoubtedly mean a reduction in the discretionary allocation to CTA). I think people tend to underestimate the cost of this, but its not insurmountable. The higher passenger loads would require conductors on every car, and of course more frequent trains means more operating engineers. The labor cost increases significantly, as does the capital cost in terms of the mileage being put on the railcars. Higher ridership also means higher maintenance costs at the facilities, potentially culminating in security/customer assistant staffing at most stations.

The flipside, from the regional standpoint, is the reduction in CTA's peak bus requirement (fleet size) and labor requirement for drivers and maintenance (with bus being less capital efficient in the long run than rail, assuming the rail is getting solid ridership).

This would absolutely have to be accompanied by some effort at serious fare integration, which again requires a strong RTA.

DHamp Dec 20, 2007 12:32 AM

^It seems to me that reducing crossings and putting up fences for the sake of increasing train frequency would severely cut down on the walkability of the neighborhood (a bad idea given that 71st Street and Exchange Ave. are also the main commercial routes) unless the city also builds pedestrian bridges every 1/8 mile -- which I don't see as feasible due to the height Metra's minimum airspace versus the relative narrowness of the streets.

Agreed. RTA needs to take a more direct role in managing it's individual agencies, rather than serving as more of an advisory board. CTA, Pace, and Metra should not be competing agencies. I would like to see fare integration with Metra, but I have a hard time figuiring out how it would work with CTA/Pace flat rates versus Metra's trip based fares. What I am sure about is that the south side neighborhoods near the Metra Electric and it's branches would be better served by CTA; not only for the more frequent trains but for the integration with the rest of the system. I tend to view rapid service as better for urbanized areas (be them in the city or not) and commuter rail for true suburban areas (like places with no sidewalks). These designations change over time and RTA's function should be to recognize and respond to that.

This is where RTA can step in. They can look at the situation with the ME ROW and decide it'd be better for the entire system to sacrifice a couple of tracks that now belong to Metra Electric for the CTA. Metra will no longer need to even post the horribly underused inner-city stops on their schedule -- only needing to make a few transfer stops between the Loop and the Burbs -- like McCormick Place, 55th-57th street and 115th. That would make Metra service faster and more targeted and provide 'L' service to places that really need it.

For all I know, this conversation may have already occurred and the problem is capital, as it always is.

Jaroslaw Dec 20, 2007 12:23 PM

This conversation has recurred a depressing number of times. The key objections to a gray line, aside from the techno-twaddle, are:

1. The Metra tracks N of 63rd are inconvenient to where the people live, aside from the existing HP stations. Between 47th and Michael Reese there really isn't any point in new stations, and Michael Reese itself loses the competition with the MLK buses.

2. Many people would be opposed to putting any of the well-run Metra infrastructure under the thumb of the, shall we say, less inspired management of the CTA.

VivaLFuego Dec 20, 2007 3:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw (Post 3237763)
2. Many people would be opposed to putting any of the well-run Metra infrastructure under the thumb of the, shall we say, less inspired management of the CTA.

They've got the cause/effect backwards. Operate Metra's assets as CTA-style service, and they'd turn to shit.

DHamp Dec 20, 2007 3:14 PM

^I have to disagree with you on the first point. There a plenty of residents to be service outside of HP along that route. The problem is the lack of fare integration between HP and CTA. If such existed, we could have buses treat that line similarly to the Red -- targeting the train stops and dumping most of its passengers, making for shorter trips for those who now ride the bus for miles to get to the red line and ride for many more miles. Also, I disagree that there is no point in new stations between 47th and Michael Reese. There are a lot of new homes and redevelopment happening in that area. I looked at a few homes in Bronzeville near the lakefront but opted against the idea partly due to no Metra Stops between 47 and 27th. I like trains and generally refuse to take buses unless it's a short connecting trip to a train. I prefer my transit to have it's own ROW.

On the second point, I agree. But I think CTA can change it's image if it is funded properly under it's new management. If so, I think people who live near those tracks would welcome the ability to ride without consulting a schedule.

Loopy Dec 20, 2007 5:20 PM

Some CREATE-related news:

CN chief pushes benefits of US$300M acquisition of Chicago-area railway
Quote:

CHICAGO - The boss of Canadian National Railway Co. (TSX:CNR) is confronting opposition in suburban Chicago to the company's planned US$300-million acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co., urging a focus on "broad rail transportation efficiency and environmental benefits."

CN chief executive officer Hunter Harrison said Thursday that the Montreal-headquartered railway is mindful of community concerns but believes debate has been too centred on potential adverse impacts on some communities rather than on public-interest benefits for the greater Chicago region.

Northwestern suburbanites fear noise, traffic jams at rail crossings and the possibility of train accidents under CN's plan to purchase EJ&E's lightly used rail line and ramp up traffic to relieve freight congestion inside Chicago.
More at: http://canadianpress.google.com/arti...SMldK_8vgn9sFA

Quit wailing, start seeing rail partnerships
Quote:

The underused Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. has a suitor, flush with cash and willing to help fix the freight gridlock afflicting Chicago and the Midwest.

So what do Illinoisans do when they hear the Canadian National Railway wants to buy the EJ&E? They complain.
More at:http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=98020&src=

Jaroslaw Dec 21, 2007 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3237916)
They've got the cause/effect backwards. Operate Metra's assets as CTA-style service, and they'd turn to shit.

I do think we agree. Management trumps assets.

DHamp, my sense of the location of the Metra stops is based on several walks from Hyde Park all the way to downtown. Add the fact that the south side arould the MLK is less dense and less congested than the north side, and that Metra terminates at Randolph instead of servicing the job-rich loop area with multiple stops, and the idea of commuting downtown from say 35th via a silver line stops making sense.

DHamp Dec 21, 2007 4:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw (Post 3239663)
DHamp, my sense of the location of the Metra stops is based on several walks from Hyde Park all the way to downtown. Add the fact that the south side arould the MLK is less dense and less congested than the north side, and that Metra terminates at Randolph instead of servicing the job-rich loop area with multiple stops, and the idea of commuting downtown from say 35th via a silver line stops making sense.

First: The Grey Line is an idea to run Metra Electric trains on Metra tracks but with CTA style headways and fares. The Silver Line is my feeble attempt at a proposal that runs CTA trains alongside ME tracks until it reaches the south loop where it flies over on the SCAL and connects with either the elevated loop or the State St. Subway. I'm not sure if you're using the names interchangeably. But if were are talking about the Grey Line: are you saying that the Van Buren and Randolph stations don't service the Loop? Tell that to the tens of thousands of daily Metra Electric commuters.

Second: Let's not continue to tacitly support the marginalization of Chicago's South Side. North Siders have the Purple, Red, Yellow, Brown, and Blue lines. South siders have the Red and Green (which run less than a half mile apart for much of the run) and the Orange line which (barely) services westernmost parts of the south side. The Silver/Grey line is simply a way to start to fix what's wrong with the city's rapid transit service. Put the transit with the faster headways nearest the densest populations (the lakefront).

I guess the conversation is: should transit be proactive or reactive? South Side lakefront communities are gradually turning around and growing in density and prosperity.

#1 Should mass transit be reactive and wait until the areas are filled out? Pro: Your rider base is already there and transit makes projected revenues from fares almost instantly. Con: Acquiring ROWs and construction can be much more expensive and disruptive.

#2 Or should mass transit be proactive and search for ways to anticipate the future needs of areas? Pro: Planning and building are cheaper/less disruptive plus transit presence combined with good planning can bring around and area faster than otherwise. Con: There is greater risk that ridership will not meet goals for a while.

I support option #2. What do you support?


EDIT:
Steely: If we're getting off topic, please don't delete these posts but rather split them off. This can be a topic called "The future of Chicago mass transit" or something.

VivaLFuego Dec 21, 2007 5:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 3240001)
Second: Let's not continue to tacitly support the marginalization of Chicago's South Side. North Siders have the Purple, Red, Yellow, Brown, and Blue lines. South siders have the Red and Green (which run less than a half mile apart for much of the run) and the Orange line which (barely) services westernmost parts of the south side. The Silver/Grey line is simply a way to start to fix what's wrong with the city's rapid transit service. Put the transit with the faster headways nearest the densest populations (the lakefront).

I guess the conversation is: should transit be proactive or reactive? South Side lakefront communities are gradually turning around and growing in density and prosperity.

#1 Should mass transit be reactive and wait until the areas are filled out? Pro: Your rider base is already there and transit makes projected revenues from fares almost instantly. Con: Acquiring ROWs and construction can be much more expensive and disruptive.

#2 Or should mass transit be proactive and search for ways to anticipate the future needs of areas? Pro: Planning and building are cheaper/less disruptive plus transit presence combined with good planning can bring around and area faster than otherwise. Con: There is greater risk that ridership will not meet goals for a while.

I support option #2. What do you support?

The south lakeshore from about 35th to 47th really lacks density to justify rail rapid transit***, and from 35th on north, the built areas are too far away from the rail ROW to gain significant market share (people would still just take the 3/X3/4/X4 instead). Upgrading the ME to higher-frequency service is most justifiable if it's being used to alleviate the inefficiency of running the south lake shore express buses (paricularly the #6 and #26, and to a lesser extent 2, 14 and 28) in addition to commuter rail. North of about 35th, rail in that location won't be able to compete with quality bus service along King Drive.

Either way, given scarce funding, it's hard to justify major expenses to change the status quo considering that transit demand is being met by current service capacity. I disagree that the south side is marginalized in regards to transit. Routes from the northside already operate at capacity in the AM peak, on a whole order of magnitude above the south side routes (with possible exception of the 14 running standing loads at 2-3 minute headways). The 22, 156, 134-136, 145-147 are all crushed during the peak despite tight headways of 4 minutes or less, with rampant bunching and buses leaving passengers waiting at stops (156 is a joke...they start short trips southbound at North Avenue because buses from Belmont are already full by then, and the thing is crushed with 80+ passengers by Division. They added 'supplemental' service to the 22 when 3-track started, but even though the effects of 3track have subsided they still need the extra runs for the 22 and the thing is still jammed by North avenue, with people letting 2-4 buses by before getting to board). The Brown line and Blue line from the north are almost unmentionably packed (load factor of around 2x capacity) by their peak load points a couple stops out from the Loop; the Red is jammed, but at least I usually only have to let one train go by when boarding at Clark/Division. The UP-N line is standing room only (I think maybe one or 2 inbound ME trains consistently reach that point, though the South Shore is packed too). From the southside, the Red Line has at most a standing load (not crushed), the green line is often a seated load. The only routes that see consistent passenger loads comparable to any of the northside are the 3 and 14, though at least several have consistent standing loads (6, 26, 4, 2).

In terms of priorities, the Grey/Silver Line concepts can't be very high on the list relative to the Brown Line capacity expansion, procuring more articulated buses, etc.

Regarding your 2 transit strategies, #2 is ideal for top-quality TOD but the reality in this country (in this era) is that transit capital projects always operate closer to #1. In olde tymes, private rail companies would team up with private developers to essentially create new TOD, with the rail line leading development (Brown Line to Ravenswood and Albany Park being excellent examples of this), but it also often didn't work out (such as with the original failed rapid transit services to Westchester and Skokie, which had 3rd rail transit running through corn fields basically). #2 may some day be possible if the country/state/region ever became serious about integrating land use and transportation planning, which until now have been remarkably seperate. The recent creation of a unified CMAP regional planning agency hopefully means that a decade or 2 down the road there will be better integration in this regard.

***note: as an anecdote, if you take 3600 N vs 4300S (equivalent distance from the Loop), the population in a one-mile radius is 3 times higher on the northside.

DHamp Dec 21, 2007 6:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3240111)
The south lakeshore from about 35th to 47th really lacks density to justify rail rapid transit***, and from 35th on north, the built areas are too far away from the rail ROW to gain significant market share (people would still just take the 3/X3/4/X4 instead). Upgrading the ME to higher-frequency service is most justifiable if it's being used to alleviate the inefficiency of running the south lake shore express buses (paricularly the #6 and #26, and to a lesser extent 2, 14 and 28) in addition to commuter rail. North of about 35th, rail in that location won't be able to compete with quality bus service along King Drive.

That's exactly what I'm suggesting. Operating inner city ME stops as CTA with better headways can make both CTA and Metra more efficient. Metra Electric will basically run all trains express from the south suburbs and every Grey/Silver station becomes a transfer point for east-west buses. You adjust the whole system accordingly. If the X3/X4 will get you where you're going faster, you obviously take that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3240111)
In terms of priorities, the Grey/Silver Line concepts can't be very high on the list relative to the Brown Line capacity expansion, procuring more articulated buses, etc.

Absolutely. I'm not saying Grey/Silver should be the next thing on the docket. Improvement of what he have comes first. Then Red Line extension south to 130th. But it doesn't hurt to have a plan for meeting future needs.

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3240111)
***note: as an anecdote, if you take 3600 N vs 4300S (equivalent distance from the Loop), the population in a one-mile radius is 3 times higher on the northside.

Of course. The South half of that equation is largely transitional (former industrial use, former housing projects) and the North is long established.

ardecila Dec 21, 2007 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3240111)
In olde tymes, private rail companies would team up with private developers to essentially create new TOD, with the rail line leading development (Brown Line to Ravenswood and Albany Park being excellent examples of this), but it also often didn't work out (such as with the original failed rapid transit services to Westchester and Skokie, which had 3rd rail transit running through corn fields basically).

The Skokie Valley and Westchester lines failed to direct TOD not because of their own fault, but because of the Great Depression and World War II, which really put a damper on the city's explosive growth during the 1910s and 1920s.

By the time those areas were developed, the 50s were well underway and they were filled with suburban-style houses. at a density level that could not support the kind of transit model which existed in the city. The Skokie line was re-imagined in the 60s into a park-n-ride operation, which proved to be a successful model for serving suburban-density communities.

Jaroslaw Dec 22, 2007 8:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 3240194)
The South half of that equation is largely transitional (former industrial use, former housing projects) and the North is long established.

Regarding the S side from HP to McCormick between MLK and the Metra tracks, there was hardly any industrial use there, and the only "housing project" there is a very recent mixed income community.

As I said, I've walked through there a number of times, and if there is one area in Chicago that doesn't need more transit in the foreseeable future, it's that area. Sell the land between the Metra tracks and LSD south of MacCormack to a Hong Kong developer with unlimited zoning (my quiet little dream), and I'll change my mind.

lalucedm Dec 23, 2007 3:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3240111)
From the southside, the Red Line has at most a standing load (not crushed), the green line is often a seated load. The only routes that see consistent passenger loads comparable to any of the northside are the 3 and 14, though at least several have consistent standing loads (6, 26, 4, 2).

Sorry, had to weigh in on this. I realize people tend to exaggerate their own plight, but really...

I ride the Red Line north from the southside to Harrison everyday. It is most usually as crush-loaded as the brown line in from the north. In theory, its headways make it only a standing load, but in reality, those headways are rarely realized.

The green line in from the southside is actually pretty much a seated load, agreed. It's a very pleasant riding experience, if not the best use of CTA money to operate.

I might also note that the busiest bus route in the system, by a margin of 1.5:1 over the next highest, is the 79th Street bus on the southside.

DHamp Dec 23, 2007 5:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw (Post 3241982)
Regarding the S side from HP to McCormick between MLK and the Metra tracks, there was hardly any industrial use there, and the only "housing project" there is a very recent mixed income community.

As I said, I've walked through there a number of times, and if there is one area in Chicago that doesn't need more transit in the foreseeable future, it's that area. Sell the land between the Metra tracks and LSD south of MacCormack to a Hong Kong developer with unlimited zoning (my quiet little dream), and I'll change my mind.

Viva said "note: as an anecdote, if you take 3600 N vs 4300S (equivalent distance from the Loop), the population in a one-mile radius is 3 times higher on the northside." He didn't specify a western boundary. So let's just say the south branch of the river is the western boundary. There is plenty of former CHA and industrial land within those boundaries.

And I agree, the area between McCormick and HP doesn't need more transit (except for a stop at either 35th or 39th), but nearly everything HP and southward along that ROW does need more rapid transit. In order to get the more trains to Hyde Park, they have to pass through the McCormick area first. Get it?

Jaroslaw Dec 23, 2007 5:50 AM

HP may need more transit; the CTA could start by allocating bus capacity in line with customer use rather than ward politics. South of 59th density and economic activity drop off again quite a bit.

You're changing the terms of your argument. I get that. And I have a sense that you have some kind of ideological commitment to more transit in da' South Side, which makes it difficult to argue with you, so I'll stop here.

VivaLFuego Dec 23, 2007 8:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lalucedm (Post 3242358)
Sorry, had to weigh in on this. I realize people tend to exaggerate their own plight, but really...

I ride the Red Line north from the southside to Harrison everyday. It is most usually as crush-loaded as the brown line in from the north. In theory, its headways make it only a standing load, but in reality, those headways are rarely realized.

The green line in from the southside is actually pretty much a seated load, agreed. It's a very pleasant riding experience, if not the best use of CTA money to operate.

I might also note that the busiest bus route in the system, by a margin of 1.5:1 over the next highest, is the 79th Street bus on the southside.

Having lived on the southside and commuted to downtown for several years, then moving to the northside.....southsiders really don't appreciate what a "crush load" is on an L car. The way people cram on the Blue, Brown, and occasionally Red in the AM peak is ungodly and worthy of other continents.

#79 is of course the highest ridership route, but the 1.5:1 ratio is misleading if you bundle the 49+X49 and 9+X9 routes serving the same streets; doing so makes Western and Ashland both comparable to 79th, though 79th is probably tops in terms of passengers-per-route-mile. That said, ridership doesn't necessarily correlate to the average load on each bus. Many of the high-ridership but local routes, such as the 79 , have very short average trip lengths, so the load factors aren't particularly absurd, unlike the lake shore express routes. In contrast the #49 has high ridership and high trip lengths. Obviously, each of these services aren't quite directly comparable. If you look at the CTA ridership reports (http://www.transitchicago.com/downlo...6200710bus.pdf) the "Passengers per platform hour" gives a decent sense of how packed the buses would be as averaged across the whole day, but it doesn't really encapsulate the peaking effect of many routes (or routes with unusually high K and D factors, to use transportation engineering lingo).

Quote:

Originally Posted by dhamp
Viva said "note: as an anecdote, if you take 3600 N vs 4300S (equivalent distance from the Loop), the population in a one-mile radius is 3 times higher on the northside." He didn't specify a western boundary. So let's just say the south branch of the river is the western boundary. There is plenty of former CHA and industrial land within those boundaries.

Give or take, this was calculated using a 1 mile buffer around:
3600N - 800W
and
4300S - 400E
The numbers came out to approximately 120,000 vs. 45,000, but I don't remember precisely, I don't have the calculations on this computer.

DHamp Dec 23, 2007 8:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw (Post 3242497)
You're changing the terms of your argument. I get that. And I have a sense that you have some kind of ideological commitment to more transit in da' South Side, which makes it difficult to argue with you, so I'll stop here.

You're right. And I wasn't changing the terms of my argument there, just responding to Viva's anecdote that didn't really correspond exactly to the issue at hand. I've lived in Douglas, Park Manor, and now South Shore. I am a proud south sider. When I was younger I used to take the #4 bus downtown and it would take FOREVER. I thought that's just how it was. Then when I got to high school I would visit northside friends and who lived blocks from the relatively speedy Brown Line. I hate that there is such a black and white difference between transit on the north and south sides. I started to look at transit maps and see that the CTA even left city limits to the north while the Red Line stops 5 miles short of the south boundary of the city. And I know there are population differences, I never said there weren't. But you can't tell me that socio-political influences haven't been involved because you can look back on the history of this city and race and class politics are all over where money gets invested in this city.

But I'm about moving forward, not looking back. And I think in the ideal situation, transit is out in front, anticipating demand and improving places by providing transit. I know it's not necessarily practical given the fact that we can barely get our stupid state politicians to send minimal funding to the RTA. But I think about it anyway.

Jaroslaw Dec 23, 2007 9:34 AM

-If there is a difference between north and south side transit, it is that the trains and maybe even the buses between the north side and downtown break even, and the trains and buses on the south side are losing money. Not everyone on the N side lives a block away from the brown line, for a fair comparison you should contrast the riding conditions on the brown line and the green line on the s. side. I'll stop here before it becomes too political.

Transit in Chicago (and even in a lot of NE Asia) is terrible at keeping abreast of existing demand, so to speak of "going in front of demand" is hopelessly and I'd say harmfully removed from the circumstances on the ground.

I'm as much in favor of more development on the south side as anyone, but upgrading transit is not the best way to do it. The recent murder of a U of C grad student a block away from campus is the kind of occurence that would negate even a maglev commuter line's influence on neighborhood development.

DHamp Dec 23, 2007 5:07 PM

I agree with just about all of that, but I'm going to have to make this real simple because you are content on completely missing my point.

1. Yes, south side 'L' reaps nowhere near the fares per ride as north side 'L'. It's due mostly to the fact that there is less density south in general AND south side trains go through a lot of industrial land (orange) or through low density areas (red and green). Also less percentage of people on the South have jobs that take them downtown every day. That's another issue so I'll leave it at that. I know all that, so it's no point in throwing that back at me in every post.

2. I know that not everyone on the North side lives a block from the Brown line. That was just an example. The Brown and Green are comparable in that they weave through neighborhoods. However, the green runs through a lot of bombed out neighborhoods with more empty lots than houses. Is that the CTA's fault? Not unless you're one of those people who blames the 'L' running over 63rd street for the high crime under it. I don't. I refuse to blame transit for the ignorance and violence of those who live near it.

3. Like the north side, the densest populations on the south side are near the lake. On the north, there are the red and purple lines. One the south the closest rail line is the ME. I have a belief that a 'L' line along ME's tracks would make better profits than any of the other south side 'L' lines because it would come to where more people are, generally speaking.

4. I know that transit in America in general does a terrible job of keeping abreast of demand; I just said it in my previous post. I'm speaking in terms of "if", and for some reason you refuse to acknowledge that. The real life CTA can't even keep it's existing infrastructure in good working order. I'm simply stating that IF CTA magically had the proper money to keep it's existing system in good repair, AND it had enough capital money to spend building new lines, the first things they should do are first red line extension, then MAYBE the circle line, then the grey/silver along the ME ROW. You can disagree with my list if you like. But if you don't want to indulge me in speaking on these terms there's no point in arguing with my ideas.

Tell me where you think the next new tracks should be if the rest of the system was in good order and there was extra money to spend. It's a hypothetical situation, yes, but that's what I'm talking about. If you don't think CTA should ever build new or extend existing lines ever again, say so. If you do think there may be a time and a place for new 'L', say that.

VivaLFuego Dec 23, 2007 9:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 3242714)
You're right. And I wasn't changing the terms of my argument there, just responding to Viva's anecdote that didn't really correspond exactly to the issue at hand. I've lived in Douglas, Park Manor, and now South Shore. I am a proud south sider. When I was younger I used to take the #4 bus downtown and it would take FOREVER. I thought that's just how it was. Then when I got to high school I would visit northside friends and who lived blocks from the relatively speedy Brown Line. I hate that there is such a black and white difference between transit on the north and south sides. I started to look at transit maps and see that the CTA even left city limits to the north while the Red Line stops 5 miles short of the south boundary of the city. And I know there are population differences, I never said there weren't. But you can't tell me that socio-political influences haven't been involved because you can look back on the history of this city and race and class politics are all over where money gets invested in this city.

But I'm about moving forward, not looking back. And I think in the ideal situation, transit is out in front, anticipating demand and improving places by providing transit. I know it's not necessarily practical given the fact that we can barely get our stupid state politicians to send minimal funding to the RTA. But I think about it anyway.

For what it's worth, I lived over 20 years on the south side and variously used the Metra Electric, #6, #2, #1, Green Line, and Red Line to commute. I don't think the south side is underserved by transit per se, but rather that the service that is there is not optimally located. The current geographic transit layout, throughout the entire metropolitan region, is routed as was appropriate circa 100 years ago (note how many obvious locations like the I-90 and I-88 corridors aren't really directly served, nor is the north lake shore). But the south side situation is very pronounced, with the two rapid transit lines less than a mile apart, and an oddly-functioning electric commuter rail line running at grade-level. To the extent that this imbalance is the result of 'socio-political influences', I think it has to do with the general lack of capital investment in south side real estate development for the past 40 years (South Shore last saw significant development around the 1960s, but other than Hyde Park there has been very little since then). This real estate stagnation, beyond simply not providing a critical mass of ridership to support a major re-work of transit service, also means that the existing services are perpetually underutilized with a few exceptions; the south side continues to depopulate, and hopefully the 2010 census will show the first leveling-off of this trend..

FWIW, the original plan for the Dan Ryan branch was to branch at 95th, running in the medians of I-57 and I-94 to 127th and 130th respectively, but there simply wasn't enough money to complete these at the time. There were alot of grand aspects to the project (for example: think massive multi-story park n ride facilities suspended across the Dan Ryan expressway) that didn't come to be because of the lack of funds. During the freeway building era, there were always ample federal funds available for road construction, but transit was trickier; in fact, Daley was adamant about the construction of the Dan Ryan rapid transit, making a personal call to Lyndon Johnson to make sure it got built before the Kennedy rapid transit line.

Had the original plan been built out, it would have meant even more expressway median rapid transit, which has since shown to be a very poor right of way to support transit, with low passengers-per-route-mile (to wit: The CTA maintained overall solvency, requiring no subsidy, until the opening of the Dan Ryan and Kennedy transit lines, which massively increased the car-miles on rail cars without a commensurate ridership increase to support the additional maintenance). So in the end, it may have been best to have waited all these years to get a Red Line extension that actually serves communities, rather than expressways.


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