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VivaLFuego Mar 26, 2007 2:50 PM

^ Mayor,

#1: I'd advise research alternate routes for the way home, rather than on the way to work; AM inbound service will only see minor cuts and will still be functional. Focus more on the PM for the first phase of 3-track

#2: When a bus is so obviously defective, write down or remember the 4-digit bus number and call in a complaint.

Chicago3rd Mar 26, 2007 2:53 PM

Too bad CTA couldn't have come up with the idea for a bus #11 Express. Nope...would have made too much sense.

And this come Friday at the "special" board meeting Krusie should be a man and when he says thumbs up to the 3 track approach and to the signals working....if they don't and there is a total melt down he should offer to step down.

Also, since we have so many stations closed are those people who we are paying going to be at Fullerton and Belmont assisting? I am concerned about people holding the doors open and I am concerned about people stuffing the trains so the doors will not close and all this causes delays. How are they going to police the people?

spyguy Mar 26, 2007 4:11 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/26/us...hp&oref=slogin

A Rail System (and Patience) Are Stretched Thin in Chicago

By LIBBY SANDER
Published: March 26, 2007


The century-old elevated train system here is as much a city fixture as the towering skyline and the piercing blue waters of Lake Michigan.

But deteriorating tracks and trains, chronic budget shortfalls and a region ever more dependent on rail service are forcing Chicagoans to confront the possibility that the system, commonly known as the El or the L, may be at a breaking point.

“We’re living on borrowed time,” said Frank Kruesi, the president of the Chicago Transit Authority, which runs the rail service. “The fact is, there’s no magic wand when we’re looking at modernizing a system that’s 100 years old in a very dense urban environment.”

The El, with its 1,190 rail cars and 222 miles of track, is the rail component of the transit authority, the second-largest public transit system in the country after New York’s. The C.T.A.’s trains and buses serve the city and 40 suburbs, logging 1.55 million rides daily. The El alone accounted for more than 195 million rides last year.

Many neighborhoods have thrived in recent years in part because they attracted residents eager to take advantage of the easy access to downtown that the trains afforded, some riders say. But the rail system is splitting at the seams, having carried 31 million more riders in 2005 than in 1985 on a fleet of cars with an average age of 27 years.

“I’ve been riding the El pretty much all my life, and I’ve never seen performance anywhere near this bad,” Alexander Facklis, 37, a rider on the Blue Line, said during a recent morning commute when a stalled train slowed most service. “There are delays every single day.”

For years, the story of the El has been one of too little money and costly patchwork maintenance, transit experts say.

Along with two other transit systems, Metra and Pace, which link Chicago to the suburbs by bus and by rail, the C.T.A. depends on a financing formula of fares and sales taxes that has not changed since 1983. The state auditor general has called the system’s financial condition “precarious.”

The Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the three transit agencies, is trying to persuade state lawmakers to approve a $10 billion infusion of state and local money over the next five years. The C.T.A. needs $5.8 billion to bring its system, including buses, into a state of good repair, officials say.

“We call this ‘the year of decision,’ ” said Stephen E. Schlickman, the executive director of the regional authority. The choice, Mr. Schlickman said, is between a “world-class transit system” and an economic downturn that, he predicted, a hobbled transit system would most likely bring about.

The combination of slow zones, construction projects and packed rail cars has unleashed complaints from riders at community meetings and on blogs like C.T.A. Tattler, which refers to one of the most troubled routes, the Blue Line, as the “Blues Line.”

Jeff Gonzales, 40, sitting across the aisle from Mr. Facklis, said it used to take him 35 minutes to travel from his home in the Logan Square neighborhood to his job in the Loop. “Now, it takes an hour and 10 minutes,” he said.

Not far from where Mr. Facklis’s and Mr. Gonzales’s train had ground to a halt, a derailment in a tunnel last July caused a smoky fire and forced passengers on a packed rush-hour train to evacuate below ground and crawl to safety. The derailment sent 152 people to the hospital and snarled commutes on trains and buses around the city for hours.

Commute times have since doubled along that line, riders say, as deteriorating ties on many stretches of track have forced trains to travel as slowly as 15 miles per hour in some spots. The El’s slower trains prevent it from carrying as many passengers per hour as transit systems in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a state performance audit released this month.

Next month, work is set to begin on a $529.9 million expansion of the system’s third-busiest rail line, the Brown Line, which winds through some of the city’s most congested neighborhoods. Ridership on that line is up 83 percent since 1979, according to recent figures, and officials at the Chicago Transit Authority predict the overhaul will increase capacity by 33 percent.

In the meantime, though, riders are bracing for more than two and a half years of track closings that could reduce the capacity of already packed trains by as much as 40 percent at peak travel times.

But transit officials say the work is a necessary evil. Without it, the system would almost certainly fall into a chronic state of disrepair.

Helen Harrison, an administrative assistant who says the El is her only mode of transportation, faults Mayor Richard M. Daley for not paying enough attention to the problems. Ms. Harrison, 50, said she wondered how the transit system would handle an influx of tourists should Chicago win a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, a dream of Mr. Daley’s. (The city is currently competing with Los Angeles to become the United States’ bidder for the Games.)

“Mayor Daley should concentrate his efforts on this rather than on the Olympics,” Ms. Harrison said.

Mr. Daley, who by law appoints several members of the C.T.A.’s oversight board, has said that luring the Olympics to Chicago could draw more federal money to assist with long-term upgrades to the system.

But for some, coping with the immediate future is more pressing.

“The notion that we’re supposed to prepare for a doubling of our commute time for the next two and a half years is so laughable to me I haven’t been able to get my arms around it,” said Peter Skosey, a transit expert with the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit advocacy group. “I’m going to make sure my bike tires are inflated.”

http://img400.imageshack.us/img400/2...nsit600ku2.jpg
Chicagoans are confronting the possibility that the city's century-old, and deteriorating, elevated train system may be at a breaking point.

http://img400.imageshack.us/img400/4...sit2650sl4.jpg
Riders of the El system in Chicago transferring between the Red Line and the Brown Line, which serves some of the city’s most congested areas.

http://img400.imageshack.us/img400/5...sit3650ki6.jpg
The El has been undergoing patchwork maintenance as ridership has risen, tracks have deteriorated and financing has been limited.

sentinel Mar 26, 2007 5:32 PM

^^^It's one thing for this to appear in the Tribune or the Sun-Times, but it's now an embarrassement at the national level, for everyone to see on the front page of the online NYTimes. This really makes me ashamed to be an Illinoisian, the fact that Springfield has the final say on how the RTA operates, where their money comes from and contributing the most to decadence of the CTA - it's a complete embarrassement and I hope that Blago is detroyed because of this.

j korzeniowski Mar 26, 2007 5:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sentinel (Post 2718975)
^^^It's one thing for this to appear in the Tribune or the Sun-Times, but it's now an embarrassement at the national level, for everyone to see on the front page of the online NYTimes. This really makes me ashamed to be an Illinoisian, the fact that Springfield has the final say on how the RTA operates, where their money comes from and contributing the most to decadence of the CTA - it's a complete embarrassement and I hope that Blago is detroyed because of this.

yeah, my sister fw'd that article to me, and i thought, 'oh nice, now everybody knows ...'

i love chicago to death, and i am still glad i moved back after living in europe for 3.5 years, but the cta is always in the back of my mind, clouding that civic pride.

i apologize in advance if this has been brought up, but is there a date (or time period) when the assembly votes on any possible new funding? (when the movingbeyondcongestion.org 'year of decision' lobbying effort sinks or swims?) secondly, and i don't think i want to know the answer as i believe viva' has already alluded to it, but what are the chances of getting new funding beyond the $110 mil the cta needs this year? will they even get that $110 mil??

and on and on ...

VivaLFuego Mar 26, 2007 6:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 2718610)
Too bad CTA couldn't have come up with the idea for a bus #11 Express. Nope...would have made too much sense.

Generally, the "X" express routes only operate on 4-lane or wider arterials (Ashland, Western, Irving Park, Garfield, Cicero, King drive...or for example, the 53A Pulaski Limited only operates in the south where Pulaski is 4-lanes), since there is barely more than zero running time savings by having expresses operate on 2 lane urban streets. This is why there aren't express routes on many heavily-trafficked streets like Halsted, 79th, Belmont, etc.

Of course, streets like Lincoln could have dedicated bus lanes and not have parking, but that's an aldermanic and CDOT issue, not CTA.

MayorOfChicago Mar 26, 2007 7:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2718601)
^ Mayor,

#1: I'd advise research alternate routes for the way home, rather than on the way to work; AM inbound service will only see minor cuts and will still be functional. Focus more on the PM for the first phase of 3-track

#2: When a bus is so obviously defective, write down or remember the 4-digit bus number and call in a complaint.

I actually have already abandoned my morning usage of the train over the past few months. I use to just take the bus if it was already at the light waiting near my house, but I finally gave up and just started waiting for it myself. I hadn't been able to board a Brown Line train for weeks at Diversey because they were all at capacity. I was only able to get downtown by getting on a Purple Line (which almost always had room for people at Diversey) and then either waitinig for a Brown Line or just walking from Merch. Mart.

The bus wasn't bad until very recently, when everyone else started trying it out as an alternative. I'm a huge transit nut, so I know every route and possibility for getting downtown. At Racine and Diversey, the #11 is the only one that makes sense in the morning.

With capacity reduced by 13% in the mornings, I can't imagine getting on any trains when I have been waiting for between 1 to up to 3 full trains to pass through Diversey every single morning before being able to board. Then of course you have to feel the wrath of people at Armitage and Sedgwick who always have to wait longer. Those people at Sedgwick can be pretty vicious in the mornings, their patience with it all completely gone now. I don't know why they don't just take a bus or walk downtown. So much faster if you think about it.

I'm actually walking home tonight after work :) Figured with warmer weather I can just ditch the $75 monthly pass and walk to and from work. It'll take around an hour and 15 minutes, but the bus takes an hour anyway. Exercise, here I come :twoguns:

Chicago3rd Mar 26, 2007 7:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2719035)
Generally, the "X" express routes only operate on 4-lane or wider arterials (Ashland, Western, Irving Park, Garfield, Cicero, King drive...or for example, the 53A Pulaski Limited only operates in the south where Pulaski is 4-lanes), since there is barely more than zero running time savings by having expresses operate on 2 lane urban streets. This is why there aren't express routes on many heavily-trafficked streets like Halsted, 79th, Belmont, etc.

Of course, streets like Lincoln could have dedicated bus lanes and not have parking, but that's an aldermanic and CDOT issue, not CTA.

All CTA bus stops have a clear space for any bus loading or unloading to pull completely into. They took away the parking from the streets so that this "could" occure. The idea about taking parking spaces away from those of us who live in the neighborhoods was to ensure that automobiles and "express" buses can pass by a bus that is stopped at a bus stop. It is hard to believe CTA doesn't believe it takes any time to load passengers. Shaving off time could make the trips a lot shorter for those traveling the greatest distances. (P.S. we all have seen buses can pass each other on 2 lanes only....like when they are bunched up and stuff).

Another idea is that the Lake Shore Drive "X" buses that terminate at Foster should actually start picking people up from the North Garage to Lake Shore Drive.

MayorOfChicago Mar 26, 2007 7:51 PM

^ my bus on Friday:

1) Blew through every stop sign

2) Drove through red lights if no one was coming

3) Didn't stop at multiple stops when the cord was pulled because people didn't pull it "soon enough"

We passed TWO busses on the way downtown that were ahead of us, and I ended up getting to work in 30 minutes instead of an hour. It was amazing. I think they could very readily do express on a 2 lane road, and it certainly saves more time than zero!!! It's a LOT of stopping and a LOOOOT of time missed at stoplights when you have to pull the bus over every two blocks and pick people up.

pip Mar 26, 2007 8:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 2719176)
I actually have already abandoned my morning usage of the train over the past few months. I use to just take the bus if it was already at the light waiting near my house, but I finally gave up and just started waiting for it myself. I hadn't been able to board a Brown Line train for weeks at Diversey because they were all at capacity. I was only able to get downtown by getting on a Purple Line (which almost always had room for people at Diversey) and then either waitinig for a Brown Line or just walking from Merch. Mart.

The bus wasn't bad until very recently, when everyone else started trying it out as an alternative. I'm a huge transit nut, so I know every route and possibility for getting downtown. At Racine and Diversey, the #11 is the only one that makes sense in the morning.

With capacity reduced by 13% in the mornings, I can't imagine getting on any trains when I have been waiting for between 1 to up to 3 full trains to pass through Diversey every single morning before being able to board. Then of course you have to feel the wrath of people at Armitage and Sedgwick who always have to wait longer. Those people at Sedgwick can be pretty vicious in the mornings, their patience with it all completely gone now. I don't know why they don't just take a bus or walk downtown. So much faster if you think about it.

I'm actually walking home tonight after work :) Figured with warmer weather I can just ditch the $75 monthly pass and walk to and from work. It'll take around an hour and 15 minutes, but the bus takes an hour anyway. Exercise, here I come :twoguns:


It is no joke about walking often being almost as fast as taking the CTA.

brian_b Mar 27, 2007 12:03 AM

I can remember 3 or 4 years ago when the system was in much better shape that rollerblades or a bike on the lakefront path was faster (or at worst the same amount of time) as the rush hour busses (to/from east Lakeview).

I know a number of people that skipped the busses any time the weather was nice enough. I'd say it's even more important this summer. And I fear that the lakefront path is going to become hopelessly congested.

MayorOfChicago Mar 27, 2007 2:45 AM

Walked home tonight. Hour and 25 minutes to go 4.3 miles compared to one hour on the bus. Not too bad! I walk pretty slow as well, and having to stop and what seemed like every damn red light going north on Wells.

the urban politician Mar 27, 2007 3:42 AM

Bring Back Streetcars!

Busy Bee Mar 27, 2007 4:03 AM

I second that emotion.

pyropius Mar 27, 2007 5:43 AM

Does anyone have a good map of the former streetcar system? My grandfather, who grew up in the Austin neighborhood, has described it and it sounded quite extensive.

VivaLFuego Mar 27, 2007 2:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pyropius (Post 2721007)
Does anyone have a good map of the former streetcar system? My grandfather, who grew up in the Austin neighborhood, has described it and it sounded quite extensive.

NOT my maps...from a transitfan's AOL page...streetcar maps from 1914, the network generally even grew a bit through about the 1940s.

http://hometown.aol.com/ctapacefan/map1914n.gif
http://hometown.aol.com/ctapacefan/map1914s.gif

MayorOfChicago Mar 27, 2007 2:15 PM

^ How freaking handy would that be!!!!

I'm always fascinated when they repave a street, Fullerton, Halsted, whatever - and you can see the old tracks still embedded in the road when they scrape up the asphalt. They just threw down a new street over the old bricks and rails. I swear there were some on Sheffield when I lived over there last year. It really made me stop and look when I walked by those old bricks and the rails - right there in front of my apartment. What a fast paced and busy life the city must have had back then.

Chicago3rd Mar 27, 2007 2:35 PM

What fascinates me is how such a system could be built 100 years ago and we cannot even get a feeder system downtown between the west loop and Streeterville (even though smaller cities do....Portland created its StreetCar outside their Transit Agency).

J. Will Mar 27, 2007 3:36 PM

Holy smokes! That streetcar map makes Toronto's current 11-line streetcar system look like peanuts. Do you guys know how many people per day it carried? And did they use buses back then as well, or was surface transport entirely streetcars? Up here, almost all surface transit downtown is streetcars. Only a few streets like Bay, Sherbourne, and Wellesley use buses instead of streetcars.

sentinel Mar 27, 2007 3:50 PM

http://www.chicagobus.org/history

Great website with pictures of the old streetcars. I also highly, highly recommend watching the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" because it touches at one point about the history of the electric streetcars and how Standard Oil, the precursor to Exxon Mobil (?) bought many streetcars en masse in the 40's-50's throughout many cities in the country and let them rust away in wreckage yards to make way for the explosion of their gas-consuming automobiles (also discussed at lenght on a recent PBS documentary).


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