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nomarandlee Feb 23, 2013 7:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 6025397)
With the upgrades to the ATS I'm not sure how that shakes out time wise with walking to the Blue Line station from most of the concourses...it can be a hike depending what airline you're flying and you'd have to use the ATS anyway if T5.

How realistic is it to wait on the Western Terminal? The airlines don't want it and even with the American-US Air merger I don't think there is enough leverage to get it, probably only the remaining airfield upgrades.

Good points on both counts.....An express running to a West terminal I think would be somewhat illogical given the current East side will seemingly still always be the primary entry point and sizably larger source of gates well into the future.

Making a very quick and efficient pedestrian link to the ATS trains with any express trains is probably the best way to move people quickly to the many points of the airport they may be going to.

Mr Downtown Feb 23, 2013 3:50 PM

The Dept. of Aviation is opening bids next month for a big new groundside transportation center that will consolidate regional bus and rental car operations next to the Metra North Central stop. From the bid document:

The project consists of two main buildings to be located at the current corner of Zemke Boulevard and Mannheim Road. This facility will serve several functions, including but not limited to, the consolidated operations for all on-airport rental car companies, public parking, airport connection to regional and commercial buses and vehicles and interface with commuter train service. The development of the facility also includes the extension of the Airport's People Mover ("Airport Transit System" or "ATS") and the relocation of the System's terminus station to be integrated with the Joint-Use Consolidated Rental Car/Parking Facility ancillary to the extension of the ATS is an expansion of the Maintenance and Storage Facility.


Given the capacity restrictions on the CP, I've long thought it might make more sense to have a spur come north from Bensenville Yard on the Milw-W, which you can now see just across Irving Park from the southernmost runway. But the FAA might require a spur coming north under the runways to the terminal to be entirely buried rather than just in open cut.

Beta_Magellan Feb 23, 2013 7:09 PM

I think those capacity restrictions might eventually clear up if more freight goes over the former EJ&E. Also, issues in expanding NCS service might not apply to a dedicated O’Hare train. In addition to the assumption that it would be able to easily get funding (as opposed to the larger and potentially more difficult task of improving signaling, track, buying new rolling stock, and paying for more frequency along the NCS), on Google Earth it looks as if there’s ample track capacity for something like an extra hourly train between O’Hare and CUS—the line’s triple or quad-tracked for much of the stretch between O’Hare and the Milwaukee District—only two of those tracks completely bypass facilities in Schiller Park, but with better signaling plus some new and upgraded crossover work it doesn’t seem like a stretch to add another passenger train per hour.

ardecila Feb 24, 2013 12:43 AM

Right, but I don't think an hourly service is good enough when we already have a 6-8 minute Blue Line service at peak. If we're treating this like a checklist thing that runs on commuter tracks with minimal investment, then ok, whatever. We can say we have one. If we're interested in actually attracting ridership, I'm kind of in a go big or go home mindset. We've already got direct rail service from downtown to both major airports, as well as an array of taxi, shuttle, and bus options. Unless the airport express offers some game-changing speed and frequency, I think it should go on the backburner. We've got other regional transit projects that are more worthy.

Mr Downtown Feb 24, 2013 1:46 AM

^And by the time you spend 18 minutes trundling to the far north end of the ATS and transferring, you've lost the time savings provided by nonstop running on Metra tracks.

Alon Feb 24, 2013 1:51 AM

Is airport service, even at relatively low cost, an important transit priority for Chicago? The same money could be spent on extending the Red Line south, or on electrifying the busiest Metra lines, or maybe even on constructing connecting tunnels to let Metra run through, or on constructing a bunch of urban Metra stations...

ardecila Feb 24, 2013 4:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alon (Post 6026552)
Is airport service, even at relatively low cost, an important transit priority for Chicago? The same money could be spent on extending the Red Line south, or on electrifying the busiest Metra lines, or maybe even on constructing connecting tunnels to let Metra run through, or on constructing a bunch of urban Metra stations...

The liberal in me says the Red Line extension is needed for social justice, but the pragmatist says it's a waste - Roseland and West Pullman are gonna go through some serious black flight before construction even starts. Violence like these neighborhoods are experiencing is already driving people out every day.

I think Rahm understands this - which is why he's rebuilding 95th instead - even if he's part of the problem by not devoting enough resources to policing and crime prevention.

But yeah, the other things on your list are pretty worthy. I also think the city's current BRT plans are ideal - they offer the right proportion of cost to benefit, and they're historically appropriate in a city that grew up around a grid of streetcar lines. If we can get even $1 billion, that would build a whole network of BRT on CTA's most promising routes. Plenty of social justice in this proposal, too:

http://dc.streetsblog.org/wp-content...12/MPC_BRT.jpg

Beta_Magellan Feb 24, 2013 7:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alon (Post 6026552)
Is airport service, even at relatively low cost, an important transit priority for Chicago?

No. The fact that this is a matter of continuing discussion among notables while proposals for fixing basic things (congestion at the A-2 crossing between the Milwaukee District/NCS and UP-West line comes to mind) languish tells you everything you need to know about American transit planning.

untitledreality Feb 24, 2013 8:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alon (Post 6026552)
Is airport service, even at relatively low cost, an important transit priority for Chicago?

No.

If they could keep the OHare branch in tip top shape and prevent delays, I dont think the amount of time to ride the Blue from downtown to OHare is unreasonable.

ardecila Feb 24, 2013 11:11 PM

We could outfit Blue Line cars with luggage racks. :shrug:

Rizzo Feb 25, 2013 12:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by untitledreality (Post 6027167)
No.

If they could keep the OHare branch in tip top shape and prevent delays, I dont think the amount of time to ride the Blue from downtown to OHare is unreasonable.

I don't they will ever attempt to keep it in tip top shape. The blue line has to be the worst line to ride in the city. Even many of the locals I know that use it everyday passionately complain how awful it is.

I take the blue line regularly to the airport, and if it weren't for the fact that I fly out around rush hour, I'd take a taxi regardless of cost. I'm embarrassed for my city when I board the train at O'Hare. There's bums panhandling, the cars stink of urine, the station smells like lysol covering up urine, the floors are full of trash, seats have who knows what on it. The travelers wrinkle their noses and try to scout out a clean seat and decent smelling car. They are then treated with slow moving trains and delays that can take up to an hour to reach downtown. 30 minutes should be standard.

The blue line is one of the system's best assets, but we treat it likes it's our worst and don't even run our newest vehicles on it. People may argue that we have to fix what's broken, but the blue line seriously needs improvement.

There's got to be a way to work in sidings and overtakes to permit express service to downtown with limited stops without using alternative routes. I've actually been on two blue trains that for whatever reason ran express and only stopped 5 times from downtown to O'Hare. It was incredible. I think 2013 price range sans a downtown station would be in the half billion dollar range. It seems like a reasonable investment to me to boost ridership and make the O'hare branch way more attractive to travelers. Meanwhile they'll spend $1.5 billion on the red line extension? You gotta be kidding me.

Mr Downtown Feb 25, 2013 1:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6027403)
We could outfit Blue Line cars with luggage racks.

Like they did in 1985? Nobody but me ever was brave enough to put his luggage out of reach.

ardecila Feb 25, 2013 1:41 AM

It probably depends where you place them. They should be in a spot where travelers can find a nearby seat (so not next to the doors, where seats are always full). Because the Blue Line is through-routed, O'Hare bound passengers don't get to board at a terminal station where all seats are empty.

Is there enough clearance for overhead racks like Amtrak that run the length of the car?

Beta_Magellan Feb 25, 2013 2:03 AM

Most of the issues you talk about, though, aren’t really addressed by improved airport service—airport travelers are a marginal market compared to the ~33000 people (counted as 66,000 riders) who use the Blue Line for their everyday business (I got that by substracting O’Hare ridership from the 2011 CTA Annual Ridership Report (pdf), and any Blue Line improvements should be done with Blue Line riders in mind. Passing sidings don’t help them, better rolling stock only does if it goes onto the Blue Line, and a flat junction to the empty Block 37 station on a line that has runs at three minute headways during peak periods can only make things worse (not to mention the amount of line capacity they take up when running express). If you think constructing new elevated track around, say, Damen and Milwaukee (as proposed by the old Express Airport Train Service Business Plan (pdf)) would be cheap or easy you haven’t met many people from Bucktown/Wicker Park.

The business plan only gives 2030 ridership figures for Express Service (with passing loops), so I can’t compare it with CTA figures since I don’t have comparable estimates for the time. It’s around 6600 a day—around 3000 fewer people than currently using the O’Hare station at the Blue Line. And around 20% of passengers are supposed to be diverted from existing Blue Line service, which gives us ~5300 new passengers. That’s pretty pathetic for your half a billion dollar range, Hayward—the report gives a total cost of in, $2006, of $1.4 billion (subtracting their estimated cost of the State Street station—$94 million, less than half of what it ended up costing). In $2009, that’s around $1.5 billion. In $2009, the Red Line Extension is $1.1 billion ($1.5 billion is in year-of-expenditure dollars, see the pdf—the Airport Express Business Plan doesn’t have YOE figures, and even if it did they would probably not be for the same years). That’s for an extension whose daily ridership in 2030 is expected to be 42,000 (i. e. 21,000 boardings at the new stations). Now, most of those certainly won’t be new riders (I don’t think the Red Line AA even attempts to parse that out), but those riders will have an average travel time saving of around 20 minutes compared to a no-build alternative, as opposed to the ~15 minutes saved on trips from O’Hare.

Now, this isn’t an endorsement of a Red Line expansion plan—it could be under $900 million in $2009 if the CTA didn’t insist on adding unnecessary new yard and shops, and the minimum operating segment to 115th (likewise with no new yards and shops), which scored better with the FTA than the full plan, would be even less expensive; we also haven’t even taken Mike Payne’s Gray Line to take into consideration here. But even a project that’s certainly suffering from scope creep, probably overlong, and possibly not even necessary, we get better results than an Airport Express along the Blue Line. Scanning the Business Plan I got the impression that it was just informed mental masturbation, full of various idée fixes from various figures of late Daley-era Chicago. It gets a lot of support for people because it seems intuitive: why not just make the Blue Line quicker? How expensive can it be? Surely everyone will use it—I go to O’Hare, my friends come in from O’Hare, it will be a great success! If we bother to look up a few numbers, conveniently already crunched for us, we see that a project with so little benefit relative to cost that it never should have had much priority at all in any list of Chicago-area transit improvements. But it sounds like such a good idea in concept that people just can’t seem to let this justifiably-dead idea go! (The sunk cost fallacy is also worth mentioning for anyone who remembers Block 37.)

chicagopcclcar1 Feb 25, 2013 2:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 6027584)
Red Line expansion plan—it could be under $900 million in $2009 if the CTA didn’t insist on adding unnecessary new yard and shops,

Just curious as to how you came to the conclusion that a new yard and shops are "unnecessary."

DH

Beta_Magellan Feb 25, 2013 3:32 AM

It says so in the AA report—new yards and shops aren’t part of the application for New Starts funds. The CTA is confident the FTA will fund a Red Line Extension without new yards and shops, which makes me think that new yards and shops are more a “want to have” than a “need to have.” According to the report, issue with 98th Street is more age and poor access for deliveries, not capacity. I’m not sure whether easier deliveries are worth the $2-300 million cost of a replacement, or whether the cost of a more basic update is so high that a new shop becomes attractive—like most things American transit-related, someone decided it was a good idea and decided to try to get funding rather than carrying out a more thorough analysis as to whether or not it’s actually necessary. The fact that new yards and shops are not in the New Starts application makes me wonder whether it can be justified on a cost-benefit basis at all—although the New Starts process has its issues, at least it attempts some kind of evaluation. (Plus, I’ve read elsewhere—without a solid citation of source, so believe as much or little as this as you want—that American urban rail fleets and yard facilities are oversized relative to their European counterparts, due to either featherbedding or antiquated operating practices.)

I may have overstated the certainty of it—it was a while since I last looked at the Red Line AA LPA report—but I think it still holds.

untitledreality Feb 25, 2013 4:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 6027509)
I don't they will ever attempt to keep it in tip top shape. The blue line has to be the worst line to ride in the city. Even many of the locals I know that use it everyday passionately complain how awful it is.

...Meanwhile they'll spend $1.5 billion on the red line extension? You gotta be kidding me.

Agreed on all accounts. It is slightly mind boggling considering the OHare branch ridership numbers, rate of ridership growth and connectivity to the 4th busiest airport in the world.

But... I dont think it needs anything special done to it. Unless we consider running in tip top shape special.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 6027584)
If you think constructing new elevated track around, say, Damen and Milwaukee (as proposed by the old Express Airport Train Service Business Plan (pdf)) would be cheap or easy you haven’t met many people from Bucktown/Wicker Park.

Oh my goodness, what a preposterous, hairbrained idea. The transit planner who thought that was reasonable needs to be removed from any position of influence.

emathias Feb 25, 2013 4:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 6027584)
Most of the issues you talk about, though, aren’t really addressed by improved airport service—airport travelers are a marginal market compared to the ~33000 people (counted as 66,000 riders) who use the Blue Line for their everyday business (I got that by substracting O’Hare ridership from the 2011 CTA Annual Ridership Report (pdf)...

There are few issues with simply cherry-picking the numbers for current ridership.

First, I would be willing to bet that far more people take the train TO O'Hare than from O'Hare. When you're leaving, you know your departure time, you can plan on it, you're more likely to already be hunkered down for a trek, so taking the Blue Line to save money isn't so daunting. But when you come back, you just want to get home, so you're more likely to take a cab. Also, taking the Blue Line from the Loop is relatively easy - so people who leave for somewhere after work can just hop on the train, but when they come back home they may feel that the cab fare is especially worth it if they don't live right off the Blue Line. So I think the numbers of riders from/to O'Hare are very likely lopsided, but I don't even have a guess for how many.

Second, the idea of building out better service to O'Hare would be to increase ridership. The numbers we should look at aren't how many people currently take the Blue Line, but how many people depart from the Central Area to O'Hare every day, and what percentage of that group could become rail customers if service was faster, more comfortable and more reliable. It will never be 100%, but better service will make it higher than it currently is. But we don't even know what it currently is.

Third, if the service were extended beyond O'Hare, it would provide access to suburban riders as well as, potentially, becoming a luxury express commuter service for the NW surburbs, which would further offset the costs and help make more frequent service a possibility.

None of those possibilities are reflected in current boarding numbers for the O'Hare station.

Beta_Magellan Feb 25, 2013 5:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6027725)
There are few issues with simply cherry-picking the numbers for current ridership.

Yeah, it’s a very dodgy (I only took ridership from the O’Hare Branch, not Dearborn or Forest Park, though, so if anything I’m way underestimating the number of people using the O’Hare Branch to get to not-O’Hare—I just divided the number of boardings by two to get people, but that’s definitely not how it works), but my point was that if you want to improve service for people along the Blue Line, you do it by improving service along the Blue Line rather than fantasizing about new O’Hare-downtown expresses. O’Hare branch ridership is overwhelmingly not centered on O’Hare.

Quote:

Second, the idea of building out better service to O'Hare would be to increase ridership. The numbers we should look at aren't how many people currently take the Blue Line, but how many people depart from the Central Area to O'Hare every day, and what percentage of that group could become rail customers if service was faster, more comfortable and more reliable. It will never be 100%, but better service will make it higher than it currently is. But we don't even know what it currently is.
The 2006 business plan says express train service along the Blue Line will get 12% at 2.4 million riders/year in 2030. In 2011 O’Hare service was Again, $1.5 billion ($2009, from a report that’s already been proven way over-optimistic on cost estimates) for a projected 2.4 million annual riders (with 15 min time savings vs. current service) versus $1.1 billion ($2009) for a projected 13 million riders (with 20 min time savings vs. current service) on a project that’s been repeatedly criticized here for being too expensive. I don’t understand why members of this forum, who are usually pretty good at sniffing out bullshit, keep talking about this like it’s a good investment.

Quote:

Third, if the service were extended beyond O'Hare, it would provide access to suburban riders as well as, potentially, becoming a luxury express commuter service for the NW surburbs, which would further offset the costs and help make more frequent service a possibility.
Blue Line service beyond O’Hare has been dead since the early-to-mid 2000s, sorry. Even when it was being considered (Northwest Corridor Study pdf, pages 5-46 to 5-51 for ridership projections), trains were only planned to skip California, Chicago and Grand—there would have been significant ridership from Chicago to the northwest corridor as well as the other way—skipping the neighborhoods would mean giving up a the reverse commute market (unless you had unidirectional expresses in the morning or evening, though I don’t know of any metro system that does that). And again, in makes little sense to discuss extending the Blue Line before modernizing what we have no.

In any event, this whole discussion is pretty ridiculous. I’m pretty sure O’Hare-Block 37 via Blue Line express is dead and only survives in places like this because of the reasons stated above and because this thread spends at least as much time talking about our ideal, imaginary systems as we do about actual Chicago transit news and events.

Standpoor Feb 25, 2013 7:43 AM

^
It seems to me that according to that report, the cost of adding passing sidings and such is $771 million (in 2006 dollars) and a whole new alignment would be $1.5 Billion (2006). Both of which would include the direct service to Midway. Am I wrong? I am just curious since Hayward was talking more about upgrading existing blue line infrastructure and not building a whole new alignment.

However, my main point is that even though the two projects are comparable with respect to projected cost, they are not revenue comparable. The business model forecasts $18.1 million (2006) in fare revenue in the airport express's first year of operations. In 2030, the model forecasts $91.1 million (2006). Meanwhile operating and maintenance costs are estimated at $11.7 million and $42.9 million respectively. On the other hand, the red line alternative analysis predicts $8.4 million (2009) in fare revenue in 2030 due to implementation of the red line extension. O&M costs of the red line extension are estimated at $18 million (2009).

This is why the airport express endures. Whether or not the estimates would turn out to be correct I don't know but it has the possibility of bringing in huge money. It is why we can sit here and talk about routes and time, etc. and it is also why those things are so important for the project. The more time that can be saved, the higher the ticket premium. Transferring and long ATS commutes would negate any savings and impact revenue. It is also why we can prioritize its construction over the red line, if it will make money, it is easier to get the capital costs.

Edit: I was criticizing the cost of the airport express previously, so I figured I should say something about that. The red line extension should go forward because it increases transit opportunities for other citizens of the city. It is a project for the greater good and I don't mind paying for it. I also think that the Electric District could plan a restructuring with fewer stops in the city and operate more express service once the red line is extended. I would like to see the billions of dollars go to projects that will affect more people and have greater impacts of ridership but I am not going to complain if money is spent on the red line extension.

On the other hand, I do mind if huge sums of money are spent shuttling business travelers and tourists from the airport downtown and back. If it does not make business sense to build the airport express, then it should not be built.


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