SkyscraperPage Forum

SkyscraperPage Forum (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/index.php)
-   Transportation (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=25)
-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

ardecila Feb 18, 2008 6:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3362095)
Yes, if CN purchases the EJ&E, they would be able to abandon the St. Charles Air Line. But first someone has to figure out how to get Amtrak trains to and from the former IC north of Homewood.

Included in CREATE is a plan to restore a flyover ramp between the former IC and the former NYC at Grand Crossing. The viaduct is still there (you can see it in an aerial), but it needs tracks to be laid. Amtrak wants the old NYC right-of-way anyway as a high-speed-corridor to avoid having conflicts with freight trains on the parallel line - there was an article about it awhile back. I suppose the high-tension lines would need to be moved, but this would avoid the crazy dance of switching that Amtrak trains must do to enter the station from the Air Line, and pull Amtrak and freight off of the lakefront line, allowing expansion of Metra Electric/South Shore, bigger station facilities, or a new rapid transit line.

Anyway, am I the only one to think that Millennium Station already has a valuable location closer to the Mag Mile, State Street, Millennium Park, and the museums than any other downtown terminal? There's plenty of office space in Lakeshore East and in the financial district in the Central Loop that's not far at all from Van Buren/Millennium Stations, and as I said already, it's optimally-placed for downtown attractions.

Converting the Air Line into a linear park may be shortsighted, but there's no reason that the line needs to carry Amtrak or Metra Electric trains. Hell, I'd rather see it converted to a BRT line, allowing buses to bypass traffic on 18th and access the lakefront BRT line.

OhioGuy Feb 18, 2008 6:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 3362251)
Its been running really fast all weekend as well, it only took ~15 min last night to go from Sheridan to Chicago last night.

You got lucky. Your ride last night must have occurred after 6pm? Because the red line was rerouted to the elevated tracks over the weekend up until Sunday evening at 6pm. My ride on the red line from the Randolph station to Addision was slow Saturday afternoon, probably mainly because of all the twists & turns on the brown line tracks from near Sedgwick to Armitage. Though really it seemed the red line train was moving slower than brown line trains typically go through that area. Does the fact the red line was 8 cars vs the typical 6 cars for the brown line require slower movement through the area? Or is it a difference between the types of trains typically run on the red & blue lines vs the types of trains run on the lines that area entirely elevated? Whatever the case is, it's too bad the tracks have to be sooooo curvy through that area.

the urban politician Feb 18, 2008 7:01 PM

What Chicago needs is the equivalent of the Times Sq shuttle--an underground train that runs back and forth between Times Sq and Grand Central Terminal, tying together the sprawled-out Midtown office district and allowing Metro Railroad riders access to jobs farther west.

A combined Millennium/Block 37 superstation shuttle to a combined Union/Ogilvie superstation could serve a similar function. People arriving from the south suburbs/NW Indiana/OHare can transfer to the shuttle and get to a job in the west loop.

UChicagoDomer Feb 18, 2008 7:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3362095)

Instead, the city is intent on converting the SCAL into a greenway, with bike and ped trails. No one's ever explained how they intend for it to cross the Metra Rock Island tracks.

This is awful. I've written Ron H. and Sen. Durbin with complaints (yes, I know, rational apathy should dictate that letter writing is lame and pointless, but my immediate righteous indignation at a modern day rails-to-trails travesty compelled me to ignore rational apathy). Is there really going to be no more public input on this? If there is, we should really get some civic organizing going.

Abner Feb 18, 2008 8:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UChicagoDomer (Post 3362482)
This is awful. I've written Ron H. and Sen. Durbin with complaints (yes, I know, rational apathy should dictate that letter writing is lame and pointless, but my immediate righteous indignation at a modern day rails-to-trails travesty compelled me to ignore rational apathy). Is there really going to be no more public input on this? If there is, we should really get some civic organizing going.

Nothing really rational about apathy. Durbin is already inclined to listen to people interested in expanding passenger rail, and each letter his office gets on the subject is probably tallied--and if he gets a flood of letters complaining about train expansion but none supporting it, he is going to conclude that that is what the public opinion is. Now if you really want to be heard, you send a handwritten letter...

VivaLFuego Feb 18, 2008 8:14 PM

Everybody things converting these grade-separatd railroad embankments into linear parks and bike paths is such a great idea. I'm with Mr Downtown on this one, it's moronic because of the infrastructure costs. Rehabbing the Bloomingdale Line through Bucktown/Logan Square/etc was first estimated at $50 million, which by the time the multiplier finishes will be closer to $150 million....for what? A bike path with horrible security/safety/liability issues that a few people a day use a few days per year? Run some trains on that bitch, ditto the SAL. Real Estate and Construction costs are so exorbitant that giving up a grade-separated ROW seems unconscionable. Heck, just preserve it as weed-filled embankment failing all else, just cling to it.

k1052 Feb 18, 2008 9:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3362418)
What Chicago needs is the equivalent of the Times Sq shuttle--an underground train that runs back and forth between Times Sq and Grand Central Terminal, tying together the sprawled-out Midtown office district and allowing Metro Railroad riders access to jobs farther west.

A combined Millennium/Block 37 superstation shuttle to a combined Union/Ogilvie superstation could serve a similar function. People arriving from the south suburbs/NW Indiana/OHare can transfer to the shuttle and get to a job in the west loop.

That basically describes the proposed West Loop Transportation Center.
It makes way too much sense and costs to much to ever be built though.

the urban politician Feb 18, 2008 9:51 PM

^ Sort of. I'm essentially describing an East Loop Transportation Center (Block 37/MP Station) and its West Loop counterpart (Ogilvie/Union), both connected by a shuttle.

VivaLFuego Feb 18, 2008 10:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3362760)
^ Sort of. I'm essentially describing an East Loop Transportation Center (Block 37/MP Station) and its West Loop counterpart (Ogilvie/Union), both connected by a shuttle.

Time was, that role would be served by the Monroe distributor subway, which would have been cut-and-cover just below the surface and crossing above the Dearborn and State subways (obviously then bored under the River to hit the commuter station). In theory the Central Area transitway system would eventually include the Monroe line, which could hopefully be at least somewhat well integrated with the commuter stations and transfer facilities where it crosses L lines.

migueltorres Feb 18, 2008 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jstush04 (Post 3358877)
hey, does anybody know if the city is planning on removing the defunct ramps on 90/94 where it goes right by the loop? aka randolph to 290... cuz that'd be a perfect way to get some more merge for the functional onramps that are quite suicidal right now

that's where I had my car accident 2 weeks after i bought my car! :hell: Can't wait to move downtown and finally get rid of my car.

ardecila Feb 18, 2008 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3362802)
Time was, that role would be served by the Monroe distributor subway, which would have been cut-and-cover just below the surface and crossing above the Dearborn and State subways (obviously then bored under the River to hit the commuter station). In theory the Central Area transitway system would eventually include the Monroe line, which could hopefully be at least somewhat well integrated with the commuter stations and transfer facilities where it crosses L lines.

Hasn't that plan been changed to an underground bus road? I think this might be a little bit more acceptable publicly than a rail plan that's basically an underground people-mover. Plus, the buses can exit the busway and go in different directions, and it can tie into the bus level in the West Loop Transportation Center.

Of course, the city still hasn't done jack-shit with building the Carroll Street transitway, which gets more needed everyday...

emathias Feb 19, 2008 1:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3362929)
Hasn't that plan been changed to an underground bus road? I think this might be a little bit more acceptable publicly than a rail plan that's basically an underground people-mover. Plus, the buses can exit the busway and go in different directions, and it can tie into the bus level in the West Loop Transportation Center ...

Anything that's going to be buried will be very expensive. Why spend 2/3 of the cost to get less than half of the capacity? If funding is going to be proposed for such a thing, then it should get bang for the buck.
As far as I know, there is currently zero active plan for Monroe, although at various times there have been heavy rail, light rail and busway solutions proposed for it. There is more than enough traffic in that corridor to justify a rail solution, though, especially with the growth in Streeterville and Lakeshore East, which with the original plan would have been tied into the Monroe subway. Streeterville desperately needs to be brought into the rail grid, and tying Streeterville, Lakeshore East, Millennium Park the Loop and the West Loop all together with one line would be idea. A close second to that would be to tie Streeterville to McCormick Place through the neighborhoods being built out between Grant Park and Cermak. Buses are good, but grade-seperated rail would be best.

Waiting to do this stuff isn't really an option - the longer we wait, the more we need it and the more it costs to build. The whole solution could have been built in the early 70s for about a billion dollars. Without a doubt, it would be the heaviest used set of lines in the city right now, but to build the Monroe-related portions of the 1968 plan now would probably cost far more than that now.

Whoever wins the White House is going to be slammed left and right by almost every single city for infrastructure monies - I hope Obama wins simply because he's at least said he knows infrastructure needs investment and, his being from here, would hopefully give us a leg up in the allocations.

Busy Bee Feb 19, 2008 2:12 AM

Quote:

...Rehabbing the Bloomingdale Line through Bucktown/Logan Square/etc was first estimated at $50 million, which by the time the multiplier finishes will be closer to $150 million....for what? A bike path with horrible security/safety/liability issues that a few people a day use a few days per year? Run some trains on that bitch, ditto the SAL.
Hallelujah!!! My signature has said this for about a year. The Bloomingdale "trail" makes me want to barf. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Bloomingdale ROW should be used as the Airport Express. Do a satellite view and follow the ROW all the way to O'Hare. Then imagine it connecting to the Metra mainline alongside the Kennedy and all the way downtown with two tracks branching off and connecting to the Milwaukee subway NW of the riverbend and continuing into B37, or possibly a future West Loop transportation center as well.

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 2:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3362327)
Millennium Station already has a valuable location closer to the Mag Mile, State Street, Millennium Park, and the museums than any other downtown terminal? There's plenty of office space in Lakeshore East and in the financial district in the Central Loop that's not far at all from Van Buren/Millennium Stations

You will have noticed that demand is low for East Loop office space. While clerical workers may arrive on Metra Electric and the L, managers (and the folks who make leasing decisions) more often arrive at Ogilvie or Union. That's pulling the office district west, so much so that Wacker is now the center rather than the western edge of it. East Loop office space is in so little demand that it's being converted to residential.

South suburbanites coming to Millennium Park or the museums once a year is charming, but it's not the core of Metra's ridership. It's a system organized (perhaps too much) around bringing suburbanites downtown in the morning and home in the afternoon.

Running some Metra Electric trains (perhaps the South Chicago branch) via SCAL into Union would allow the south suburbs better access to West Loop jobs--and help make the south suburbs a viable residential choice for West Loop officeworkers. Union is nearing capacity at the south end, but since Electric division trains wouldn't be serviced in the old Burlington yard, they could just run into Union Station on one of the riverside run-through tracks (fitted with high platforms) and have a step-on engineer to reverse ends and run back south.

the urban politician Feb 19, 2008 2:37 AM

I think the problem American cities face is with their reliance on the Federal Govt to fund transit expansions. The Federal Govt, by its very nature, has an antipathy towards cities and urban environments and will always hold a bias in favor of private versus public transportation. American railways and transit systems were largely built without the aid of large amounts of Federal money. In fact, the only significant national transportation system that has ever been built entirely by Federal dollars was the Interstate Highway System.

There are exceptions, of course, and in the past few decades cities have relied heavily on Federal dollars to build transit lines, but look at the end result--the construction of transit lines has virtually slowed to a trickle for a very long time.

Just as the city is trying to do with an OHare express line, has there ever been an effort to get a private developer to build a new route? Take, for example, a lakeshore route--connecting Streeterville, Navy Pier, LSE, the Museum Campus, Central Station, and McCormick Center together. What are the prospects of the city submitting a RFP to developers with the following stipulations:

1) The city will provide a ROW which can be leased to a developer for 50+ yrs
2) The developer must build a transit line, perhaps with the city pitching in a certain, small proportion of the costs
3) The developer must operate the transit line but may charge whatever he wishes and reap 100% of the profit. No connection to the CTA is necessary. And if the venture is a financial failure, the developer can declare bankruptcy and turn over the transit line to the city earlier, which will assume the rest of the costs (yeah, this part's a bit shady)
4) When the lease ends, the city has the option to either extend it or merge the established transit line with the CTA (or CTA's successor)

Isn't that how a lot of American urban transit systems evolved anyhow? Why can't the same be done today? Screw the damn Feds, I say. They're just too slow.

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 3:18 AM

^Who would make up the difference between what people will pay and what it costs to provide the service? And who would pay for the construction costs?

It's only the smallest exaggeration to say that no one has ever made a profit transporting passengers. Virtually every streetcar line and rapid transit railway was either subsidized by real estate development, or was a scam that only made money for the founders' construction company and then went bankrupt. The story was much the same in the 19th century for railroads.

There are a few corridors in the world--Kowloon to Hong Kong, across Sydney Harbor, across San Francisco Bay, Brooklyn to Manhattan, Manhattan north-south, and maybe Lakeview to Loop--that have such intensive demand that they could pay both operating and capital costs of rail transit. I'm pretty sure that McCormick Place to Navy Pier ain't one of them.

the urban politician Feb 19, 2008 3:29 AM

^ Of course, that was just an example. What the city could do is open this discussion up to private contractors, who can propose routes in the city which would have enough demand to actually be profitable, if the city were to lease them the space/ROW to build it. I am assuming the contractor would build and operate the line themselves.

Isn't the city trying to do this with the OHare Express Line?

VivaLFuego Feb 19, 2008 3:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3363318)
Union is nearing capacity at the south end, but since Electric division trains wouldn't be serviced in the old Burlington yard, they could just run into Union Station on one of the riverside run-through tracks (fitted with high platforms) and have a step-on engineer to reverse ends and run back south.

Eventually, Metra is planning to run the Southwest Service into LaSalle street, which would free up some capacity.

VivaLFuego Feb 19, 2008 4:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3363459)
^ Of course, that was just an example. What the city could do is open this discussion up to private contractors, who can propose routes in the city which would have enough demand to actually be profitable, if the city were to lease them the space/ROW to build it. I am assuming the contractor would build and operate the line themselves.

Isn't the city trying to do this with the OHare Express Line?

A private operator could probably operate an Airport Express service profitably, but the fares would be exorbitant to cover the capital costs.

aaron38 Feb 19, 2008 5:11 AM

I had to make a run to Champaign today and took Amtrak. Union Station and the trains were packed, way busier than I expected. My train only had a handfull of empty seats.

Are the Amtrak ridership numbers up from past years?

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 5:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3363459)
private contractors [could] propose routes in the city which would have enough demand to actually be profitable, if the city were to lease them the space/ROW to build it. I am assuming the contractor would build and operate the line themselves.

Did you miss the entire 20th century? This is the financial model under which Chicago's rapid transit lines were built. And the one under which they were pretty much bankrupt by 1911. If some company actually thought it could make a profit building and operating a rapid transit line, the city would franchise any right of way it wanted for $1 and would pay for fireworks at the groundbreaking. But with the exception of the real-estate cross-subsidized Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway, no rapid transit line anywhere in the world is profitable in the usual sense of the word.

UChicagoDomer Feb 19, 2008 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3363318)
You will have noticed that demand is low for East Loop office space. While clerical workers may arrive on Metra Electric and the L, managers (and the folks who make leasing decisions) more often arrive at Ogilvie or Union. That's pulling the office district west, so much so that Wacker is now the center rather than the western edge of it. East Loop office space is in so little demand that it's being converted to residential.

South suburbanites coming to Millennium Park or the museums once a year is charming, but it's not the core of Metra's ridership. It's a system organized (perhaps too much) around bringing suburbanites downtown in the morning and home in the afternoon.

Running some Metra Electric trains (perhaps the South Chicago branch) via SCAL into Union would allow the south suburbs better access to West Loop jobs--and help make the south suburbs a viable residential choice for West Loop officeworkers. Union is nearing capacity at the south end, but since Electric division trains wouldn't be serviced in the old Burlington yard, they could just run into Union Station on one of the riverside run-through tracks (fitted with high platforms) and have a step-on engineer to reverse ends and run back south.

after the rehab of millennium station (vendors, waiting area, etc.), i doubt that metra will be willing to pull its service over into Union/Ogilve. what's the problem with running the circle line over the St. Charles Air Line (other than the fact that to connect it back into the "circle" you'd have to bore a hole under streeterville and connect the line back up at Clark/Division, which is never going to happen)?

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 3:38 PM

Huh? The south part of the Circle Line is already in place. There's no need to build some expensive way to get from the Alley L to the SCAL and then another expensive connection from SCAL to Orange Line.

UChicagoDomer Feb 19, 2008 4:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3364257)
Huh? The south part of the Circle Line is already in place. There's no need to build some expensive way to get from the Alley L to the SCAL and then another expensive connection from SCAL to Orange Line.

does the circle line as planned connect up with the Metra Electric, or will the Metra Electric be the sole Metra route that is isolated from the future "fully integrated" Metra-CTA transit system?

Marcu Feb 19, 2008 4:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3363725)
Did you miss the entire 20th century? This is the financial model under which Chicago's rapid transit lines were built. And the one under which they were pretty much bankrupt by 1911. If some company actually thought it could make a profit building and operating a rapid transit line, the city would franchise any right of way it wanted for $1 and would pay for fireworks at the groundbreaking. But with the exception of the real-estate cross-subsidized Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway, no rapid transit line anywhere in the world is profitable in the usual sense of the word.

There are quite a few privately operated transit lines throughout the world. A lot in Asia where transit is infinetly superior to here and several in the Western Hemisphere including Vancouver and Sao Paolo. They usually do require some sort of subsidy but tend to save money overall due to efficiency gains. Also, there are more riders, stations are generally cleaner, and trains are on time since there's a profit motive in encouraging more use. A sure way of increasing transit use is to make it profitable.

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 4:33 PM

Well, it would be a 350-foot walk from Millennium Station to Randolph/Wabash L station. That's roughly as integrated as all the other CTA-Metra connections.

Chicago's transit systems developed as kind of concentric rings, with very few intersections/transfer opportunities that make a network more useful to its users. That has been made worse by the political decision to isolate the Metra system from the CTA system. I'm not very keen on the Circle Line proposal, but it is at least an attempt to integrate the two systems.

My wild & crazy proposal is to adopt the Grey Line idea of running the Metra Electric South Chicago branch on rapid transit headways with CTA fare integration. But I would run those trains via the SCAL into Union Station, allowing cross-platform transfers at 59th and at McCormick Place with the other two Electric branches. That would give Electric riders access to either an East Loop terminal or a West Loop terminal. In addition, I'd put back stations in Kenwood, Oakland and Douglas, and I'd extend the branch into the South Works property. Suddenly the south lakefront has good rail access to downtown office jobs.

Abner Feb 19, 2008 4:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3364342)
My wild & crazy proposal is to adopt the Grey Line idea of running the Metra Electric South Chicago branch on rapid transit headways with CTA fare integration. But I would run those trains via the SCAL into Union Station, allowing cross-platform transfers at 59th and at McCormick Place with the other two Electric branches. That would give Electric riders access to either an East Loop terminal or a West Loop terminal. In addition, I'd put back stations in Kenwood, Oakland and Douglas, and I'd extend the branch into the South Works property. Suddenly the south lakefront has good rail access to downtown office jobs.

Just curious, do those stations have sufficient capacity to run the Metra Electric at those headways?

UChicagoDomer Feb 19, 2008 5:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3364369)
Just curious, do those stations have sufficient capacity to run the Metra Electric at those headways?

they do if the Metra-CTA adopts a universal fare card and gets rid of the Hyde Park-South Side buses (Nos. 6, 2, etc., etc.) that currently compete with Metra Electric service. wasn't greater integration and less inter-agency competition the point of the Hamos bill reform?

As to the Gray Line idea, it really doesn't seem that difficult to implement. the headways during rush hour are quite frequent (at least from Hyde Park). it seems that Metra would only have to run trains with the same headway during non-rush hours as it currently does during rush hours. the increased passengers from cancellation of bus routes would more than justify it.

UChicagoDomer Feb 19, 2008 5:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3364342)
Well, it would be a 350-foot walk from Millennium Station to Randolph/Wabash L station. That's roughly as integrated as all the other CTA-Metra connections.

...

My wild & crazy proposal is to adopt the Grey Line idea of running the Metra Electric South Chicago branch on rapid transit headways with CTA fare integration. But I would run those trains via the SCAL into Union Station, allowing cross-platform transfers at 59th and at McCormick Place with the other two Electric branches. That would give Electric riders access to either an East Loop terminal or a West Loop terminal. In addition, I'd put back stations in Kenwood, Oakland and Douglas, and I'd extend the branch into the South Works property. Suddenly the south lakefront has good rail access to downtown office jobs.

as to the connection between Metra and CTA at Randolph/Wabash, the pedway would need to be kept open past 8pm (and on Sundays) to make that viable.

as to your last paragraph, did there really used to be Metra Electric stations in Kenwood/Oakland? i had no idea. given all the development along Cottage Grove and in Kenwood/Bronzeville in general, it's a travesty that those stations are no longer there.

Mr Downtown Feb 19, 2008 5:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3364369)
Just curious, do those stations have sufficient capacity to run the Metra Electric at those headways?

Which stations? Remember that the IC was the south lakefront's rapid transit until the 1970s, with transit-like headways on the main line, better than 10 minutes most of the day and evening. And yes, Domer, there were stations every few blocks.

You'd have to revise the turnout a little at South Wye Junction so the Metra tracks rather than the freight tracks connected to the SCAL. But that should be done anyway, to allow an 18th Street viaduct to Lake Shore Drive, and would be pretty cheap if it doesn't have to be done under traffic.

If you mean Union Station, I'm sure there will be raised eyebrows. But I think it's quite doable using a step-on motorman for rapid turnback and track 30 or 32 so there's little interference with BNSF service and switching.

Eventually...Chicago Feb 19, 2008 7:10 PM

i have to say, reading the discussion in this thread is easily the most complicated to keep track of. (that's a pun, ha ha) You really have to wonder if any good transportation plans can go forward until there is a REAL government organization that can look at the rta, freight lines, highways, ... and do some straight-up Transportation Planning (capital T, capital P). I'm just so sick of everyone pissing in their own corner.

You get the feeling that even if there was enough money for all these things, no one could agree on the best way to spend it. The tranportation mess around the whole region/state/country just shows how worthless our DOT's really are. It seems like the only thing they want to do is advocate for every town to be like schaumburg. 4-6 lane suburban arterials EVERYWHERE!

Nowhereman1280 Feb 19, 2008 8:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3363703)
I had to make a run to Champaign today and took Amtrak. Union Station and the trains were packed, way busier than I expected. My train only had a handfull of empty seats.

Are the Amtrak ridership numbers up from past years?

Hell yes they are, most trains to Milwaukee are standing room only on busy days around holidays and even sometimes during rush hour and no empty seats ever during rush hours.

jpIllInoIs Feb 19, 2008 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3363526)
Eventually, Metra is planning to run the Southwest Service into LaSalle street, which would free up some capacity.

The new SouthEast Service is planned to run into LaSalle St Station also.

http://metraconnects.metrarail.com/ses.php

emathias Feb 20, 2008 1:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3364257)
Huh? The south part of the Circle Line is already in place. There's no need to build some expensive way to get from the Alley L to the SCAL and then another expensive connection from SCAL to Orange Line.

Well, the current plan is to link it to the Orange Line at Ashland. While that gives people another route to Midway, it adds no real value to any segment of the southwest portion of the city. What that poster was probably referring to was an idea that I (and others) have asked about, which is to turn the Circle Line east along the tracks near 16th Street. That gives new "L" access to East Pilsen, the southern half of UIC including, possibly, all the new development along Halsted, and the South Loop. Since there's possibly existing space for such a project (possibly not, I'm not sure), you'd be adding REAL new service instead of just extra trains to the SW side. Doing it that way could could also be done, with a little configuration, so that it joins the Red Line at the Dan Ryan portal just north of 18th. Then, eventually, if there were ever money for such a thing, it could be punched east to run along the Metra Electric alignment and up until it became a Streeterville subway. Like you said, money for that may never come to be (although Boston did manage to milk out $14 billion to bury a frickin' highway so never say never).

Here's to dreamin' ...

ardecila Feb 20, 2008 3:20 AM

Some interesting ideas here.

Couple of questions:

Why was IC service curtailed in the 70s?

Why have private citizens had to go to the trouble to prepare a detailed plan for the Gray Line, when transit planners should have realized this obvious move years ago?

Abner Feb 20, 2008 3:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3365997)
Why have private citizens had to go to the trouble to prepare a detailed plan for the Gray Line, when transit planners should have realized this obvious move years ago?

I've been wondering this too. Could it be that it hasn't gone anywhere simply because the CTA and Metra are incapable of working closely together in such a way?

On a related note, has there been any movement at all on fare integration? Are there any ideas about how this could be done? It seems feasible to integrate Metra fares into Chicago cards via a similar system to the DC Metro (swipe when you board and when you alight, and the fare for the distance traveled is deducted automatically), but it has to preserve the ability to buy paper Metra tickets.

Abner Feb 20, 2008 4:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3365652)
Well, the current plan is to link it to the Orange Line at Ashland. While that gives people another route to Midway, it adds no real value to any segment of the southwest portion of the city. What that poster was probably referring to was an idea that I (and others) have asked about, which is to turn the Circle Line east along the tracks near 16th Street. That gives new "L" access to East Pilsen, the southern half of UIC including, possibly, all the new development along Halsted, and the South Loop. Since there's possibly existing space for such a project (possibly not, I'm not sure), you'd be adding REAL new service instead of just extra trains to the SW side. Doing it that way could could also be done, with a little configuration, so that it joins the Red Line at the Dan Ryan portal just north of 18th. Then, eventually, if there were ever money for such a thing, it could be punched east to run along the Metra Electric alignment and up until it became a Streeterville subway. Like you said, money for that may never come to be (although Boston did manage to milk out $14 billion to bury a frickin' highway so never say never).

Here's to dreamin' ...

There is a Metra station at Halsted and the right of way through Pilsen is extremely wide, so there's probably room for stations. It may still be valuable to connect Pink to Orange--I wonder if in this hypothetical situation it would make sense to have the Circle Line continue south to the Orange Line tracks, and run the Pink Line as an east-west line continuing along 16th.

One of the sad side effects of connecting the Pink and Orange Lines would be the demolition of some buildings that have a very interesting relation to the tracks. At the turn in the track there are pillars right in people's front yards.

Mr Downtown Feb 20, 2008 5:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3365997)
Why was IC service curtailed in the 70s?

Declining ridership. In 1970 the IC had 17 million pax. That had dropped to 14 million in 1974. In 2007 it was 12 million.

The biggest problem was that the city neighborhoods served by the IC were just emptying out, or at least losing their downtown commuters. As the railroad industry changed, the unprofitability of commuter operations became more obvious. When RTA took over in 1974, it introduced a uniform fare structure that made the IC less attractive than CTA. A 100 percent fare increase in 1981 instantly halved ridership on the South Chicago branch. I think there was also a Metra or railroad strike around this time that spurred CTA to increase service on the lakefront buses, particularly the 6. The schedules were also revised in a way that made the IC much less useful to in-city riders. Metra's financial support comes entirely from the suburbs, so the IC's in-city stations and service have always been stepchildren.

Mr Downtown Feb 20, 2008 5:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3366080)
has there been any movement at all on fare integration? Are there any ideas about how this could be done? It seems feasible to integrate Metra fares into Chicago cards via a similar system to the DC Metro (swipe when you board and when you alight

Metra continues to insist it cannot be done. They funded a study around 2000 on better physical integration between CTA and Metra, but specifically excluded any consideration of fare integration.

Remember that Metra stations don't have any sort of access control or faregates, so there'd be no way to note the entry and exit stations. About the only idea that I think would work would be machines at Metra stations and on trains that treat a ChicagoCard as a stored-value source of funds, making a deduction in exchange for a seat-check paper ticket to the proper zone.

VivaLFuego Feb 20, 2008 5:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3365997)
Why have private citizens had to go to the trouble to prepare a detailed plan for the Gray Line, when transit planners should have realized this obvious move years ago?

Yeah, those damn incompetent transit planners, incapable of seeing the obvious... :rolleyes:

The Gray Line, as proposed, is a bad idea for a number of reasons, particularly in terms of the proposed cost and operating model. The most sensible way to achieve a similar effect would be 1) increased subsidy to Metra to increase frequency on the branch (one wonders why the bonus $100 million they're getting from HB656, giving them an almost $100 million annual operating surplus not even counting their imminent fare hike, wasn't earmarked for increasing service levels or something else useful other than enriching a gov't agency that doesn't need it) and 2) integrated intermodal fare systems. The fare integration question has been beaten to death, and is a political problem whose solution (and funding thereof) must be forced down Metra's throats. Maybe once Metra is done bonding out their operating funds to supplement their capital budget (presumably to gold-plate their railcars and install butler service or something) there will be some left over that RTA makes them use on fare equipment.

Mr Downtown Feb 20, 2008 3:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3366330)
The Gray Line, as proposed, is a bad idea for a number of reasons, particularly in terms of the proposed cost and operating model.

I have my own questions about it--particularly some of the benefits claimed--but can you elaborate on the problems you see?

VivaLFuego Feb 20, 2008 3:55 PM

There actually have been consultant studies done on this. There would be major facility issues at the north end of the line, particularly north of Roosevelt where the line narrows to 3 tracks, and then there were significant terminal costs at Randolph with the service as proposed. The operating cost increases significantly when you leave fantasyland and realize that Gray line service, will, in fact, need conductors and manual fare collection and cannot be operated as a CTA line (doing so makes for an even more absurd capital cost, aside from the fact that your assets would get trashed). The proposal also didn't take into adequate account 1) the increased capital cost from more wear and tear on railcars and track infrastructure, 2) ADA compliance considerations, 3) station facility issues (maintenance, etc.), 4) not giving adequate consideration to the capital costs and logistics of segregating CTA-style and Metra-style service along the same ROW.....I think there's more I'm forgetting but it really would be much easier logistically and politically to focus on identifying a proper subsidy to Metra earmarked for increased off-peak service levels and forcing fare integration down their throats. Fare integration would give the biggest boost to peak-period ridership on the branch, at which point Metra can include in their capital plan an easing of the bottlenecks north of Roosevelt to increase thoroughput.

UChicagoDomer Feb 20, 2008 4:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3366902)
There actually have been consultant studies done on this. There would be major facility issues at the north end of the line, particularly north of Roosevelt where the line narrows to 3 tracks, and then there were significant terminal costs at Randolph with the service as proposed. The operating cost increases significantly when you leave fantasyland and realize that Gray line service, will, in fact, need conductors and manual fare collection and cannot be operated as a CTA line (doing so makes for an even more absurd capital cost, aside from the fact that your assets would get trashed). The proposal also didn't take into adequate account 1) the increased capital cost from more wear and tear on railcars and track infrastructure, 2) ADA compliance considerations, 3) station facility issues (maintenance, etc.), 4) not giving adequate consideration to the capital costs and logistics of segregating CTA-style and Metra-style service along the same ROW.....I think there's more I'm forgetting but it really would be much easier logistically and politically to focus on identifying a proper subsidy to Metra earmarked for increased off-peak service levels and forcing fare integration down their throats. Fare integration would give the biggest boost to peak-period ridership on the branch, at which point Metra can include in their capital plan an easing of the bottlenecks north of Roosevelt to increase thoroughput.

I've never understood all the clamor for Gray Line service. I don't how many times I've wanted to take the Metra from HP during non-peak hours, but either a) preferred the convenience of the Chicago Card, or b) the more likely scenario, either knew the Metra wasn't coming for another hour, or had no idea when the Metra was going to arrive.

more frequent service and a universal fare card would alleviate the problem of inter-agency competition and provide faster and better service (Metra is posh and fast; the No. 6 bus is a crowded, consistently late dump on 4 wheels).

since we're on the topic of increased Metra frequency, is there any chance that other Metra lines could increase service? i'm thinking specifically of BNSF, which has a stop at Halsted, which could provide train service to UIC's University Village, which currently lacks it. Or even the Milwaukee West Line (Grand/Cicero station, in an area not currently served by the el) and Milwaukee North Line (Grayland and Healy stations, in an area not currently served by the el)

Eventually...Chicago Feb 20, 2008 4:45 PM

my idea for an integrated fare system using the chicago card (CTA).

Right now conductors go person by person and collect fares. It is up to the conductor to remember how far people with 10 rides/monthly passes... are riding. So why not give them a little wireless, handheld device that has a reciever that can scan in chicago cards?

For the monthly pass rider-
I hold my card out, the conductor presses the reciever up to it, a little thing says "Monthly, Zone A to G" he moves on, everything operates like it currently does.

For the 10 Rider-
I purchase a cycle of 10 rides online and they get added to my chicago card. The conductor touches the reciever to my card and the screen pops up "3 rides remaining, Zone B to D" Everything else like normal.

For the occasional, one way rider that has a chicago card-
I tell the conductor "Lake-Cook to Union" as always he touches my card to the reciever and types in zone A to E. It prints out a receipt, (much like the portable credit card recievers do) and puts the receipt in the little clippy thing. All is well.

For the occasional, cash fare rider-
I say where i am going, hand him my money, he types in Cash, Zone H to A a receipt prints out and he puts it in the clippy thing.

Advantages:
Metra can streamline their tracking of fares and ridership digitally, rather than the 1950's way of using a hole puncher.
Riders get a real receipt, not the one-way tickets that are impossible to figure out what the heck is going on.
Minimal new equipment needed. They can continue to use their same trains, stations, conductors. No jobs replaced by machines so no union issues.

Disadvantages:
Well...That's what you guys are for :)

VivaLFuego Feb 20, 2008 5:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UChicagoDomer (Post 3367012)
since we're on the topic of increased Metra frequency, is there any chance that other Metra lines could increase service? i'm thinking specifically of BNSF, which has a stop at Halsted, which could provide train service to UIC's University Village, which currently lacks it. Or even the Milwaukee West Line (Grand/Cicero station, in an area not currently served by the el) and Milwaukee North Line (Grayland and Healy stations, in an area not currently served by the el)

Metra claims that due to freight conflicts on most routes, they've already maxed out their schedules. This is plausible on several routes, particularly the 2-track routes that share trackage with freight service (the ME not being included here, except for a few potential conflicts at 115/Kensington). The BNSF, UP-W and UP-NW are 3-track, so I'm skeptical that more mid-day service couldn't be added (though I'd buy the argument that it's not possible on the MD-W, MD-N, UP-N, SWS, RI, and HC without further investment in more sidings, interlockings etc). Until there's political pressure for them to use their ridiculously high operating subsidy (so high it necessitates lazy fare collection and diversion of operating funds to capital just to reduce their recovery ratio to the mandated 54%) to increase service levels, I'm not sure we'll get the real scoop on where/when they could actually run more service.

brian_b Feb 20, 2008 5:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eventually...Chicago (Post 3367021)
my idea for an integrated fare system using the chicago card (CTA).

Right now conductors go person by person and collect fares. It is up to the conductor to remember how far people with 10 rides/monthly passes... are riding. So why not give them a little wireless, handheld device that has a reciever that can scan in chicago cards?

For the monthly pass rider-
I hold my card out, the conductor presses the reciever up to it, a little thing says "Monthly, Zone A to G" he moves on, everything operates like it currently does.

For the 10 Rider-
I purchase a cycle of 10 rides online and they get added to my chicago card. The conductor touches the reciever to my card and the screen pops up "3 rides remaining, Zone B to D" Everything else like normal.

For the occasional, one way rider that has a chicago card-
I tell the conductor "Lake-Cook to Union" as always he touches my card to the reciever and types in zone A to E. It prints out a receipt, (much like the portable credit card recievers do) and puts the receipt in the little clippy thing. All is well.

For the occasional, cash fare rider-
I say where i am going, hand him my money, he types in Cash, Zone H to A a receipt prints out and he puts it in the clippy thing.

Advantages:
Metra can streamline their tracking of fares and ridership digitally, rather than the 1950's way of using a hole puncher.
Riders get a real receipt, not the one-way tickets that are impossible to figure out what the heck is going on.
Minimal new equipment needed. They can continue to use their same trains, stations, conductors. No jobs replaced by machines so no union issues.

Disadvantages:
Well...That's what you guys are for :)

Implementing such a system would be costly. You'd need to build up the infrastructure for the fare capture system all the way out into the farthest reaches of the Metra service area. But aside from that, I don't think it's all that difficult to do.

Eventually...Chicago Feb 20, 2008 6:02 PM

i thought about that too, but given the alternatives of trying to add scanners on the trains, and such, it doesn't sound too bad.

Lets put it this way, when i take the metra out every morning i can browse the internet on my computer, send emails from my phone and make phone calls to china. Hell, i can sit on the crapper and track elections in pakistan. If metra can't figure out a way to cheaply send information back and forth to whatever corner of the globe fox lake, joliet or harvard are on, shame on them. It is a little pathetic when the users of the system are light years beyond the system itself.

UChicagoDomer Feb 20, 2008 6:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3367150)
Metra claims that due to freight conflicts on most routes, they've already maxed out their schedules. This is plausible on several routes, particularly the 2-track routes that share trackage with freight service (the ME not being included here, except for a few potential conflicts at 115/Kensington). The BNSF, UP-W and UP-NW are 3-track, so I'm skeptical that more mid-day service couldn't be added (though I'd buy the argument that it's not possible on the MD-W, MD-N, UP-N, SWS, RI, and HC without further investment in more sidings, interlockings etc). Until there's political pressure for them to use their ridiculously high operating subsidy (so high it necessitates lazy fare collection and diversion of operating funds to capital just to reduce their recovery ratio to the mandated 54%) to increase service levels, I'm not sure we'll get the real scoop on where/when they could actually run more service.

well, didn't the Hamos bill that just passed contain anything that granted more oversight and control to RTA so that the efficiencies mentioned in the various posts in this thread could be mandated??? it just kills me that chicago has so much rail infrastructure and untapped rail potential (if one considers all of the Metra and CTA routes as one system), yet maintains this sprawling, over-extended, and costly bus system.

optimally (assuming they get the federal funds they're seeking for upgrades to the Geneva/Elburn and Harvard lines), Metra would run trains all day with rush-hour type headways (perhaps with non-rush routes starting from stations within city limits if demand is too low in the burbs), and buses would be used solely as feeders to CTA and Metra stations (with exceptions for arguably indispensable routes like the 151, that basically need to end up downtown).

VivaLFuego Feb 20, 2008 7:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UChicagoDomer (Post 3367397)
well, didn't the Hamos bill that just passed contain anything that granted more oversight and control to RTA so that the efficiencies mentioned in the various posts in this thread could be mandated??? it just kills me that chicago has so much rail infrastructure and untapped rail potential (if one considers all of the Metra and CTA routes as one system), yet maintains this sprawling, over-extended, and costly bus system.

optimally (assuming they get the federal funds they're seeking for upgrades to the Geneva/Elburn and Harvard lines), Metra would run trains all day with rush-hour type headways (perhaps with non-rush routes starting from stations within city limits if demand is too low in the burbs), and buses would be used solely as feeders to CTA and Metra stations (with exceptions for arguably indispensable routes like the 151, that basically need to end up downtown).

There is some greater oversight on the part of RTA, but now the power structure is even more skewed to the suburbs so why would anything change for the better?

Also, I disagree with downplaying the importance of the bus system, which is the heir of the streetcar system. Routes like the 20 Madison, 22 Clark/Wentworth, 36 Broadway/State, 49 Western, 56 Milwaukee (and many more) have played vital roles in guiding Chicago's urban form as we know it. These are corridors that warrant some form of serious transit (short of heavy rail rapid), but over the years the street design concerns have been made with only driver in mind, and not buses/pedestrians (most of these streets once had raised island boarding areas for streetcars, wider sidewalks, etc.) And further, the northside lakeshore express buses are absolutely needed because the rail system simply doesn't have adequate capacity in that corridor to meet demand.

That said, I agree that much of our rail network is drastically underutilized; in the city/CTA realm, it's largely due to some combination of disinvested neighborhoods (Green/Pink) and poor land use (Orange), and in the burbs/Metra realm, its because service frequency in the off-peak/weekends isn't what it should be and the relative lack of integration with the urban transit (CTA) system. The Pace network of feeder buses and the suburban taxi services actually interface with Metra quite well, so all parties deserve some commendation for that. Other causes for underutilization are more minor, isolated, and usually political in nature, e.g. the lack of a major park'n'ride facility on the Dan Ryan branch, the bizarre relationship between the south lakeshore CTA/Metra services, the lack of a South Loop L stop, etc.

MayorOfChicago Feb 21, 2008 9:49 PM

^ I agree with the poor land use. I was bored yesterday at work and actually jumped on the Orange Line by my office and rode it to Midway and back, just to listen to music and kill an hour.

I felt bad for the people coming back from Midway. There were 8 of them, the only people on the car, and they were all coming into Chicago with huge suitcases and staying downtown. It was their first trip to the city, and they were very excited - which was entertaining to watch.

Well first we leave Midway and they're all babbling how close together the houses are, how thin they are, how tall they are, and how long they are. They thought it was really cool. Then. We get to the 80% of the trip that goes through rundown industrial areas. They were all amazed and talking nonstop how ugly and industrial the area was. The scattered houses, railways, factories, smokestacks. I mean I live here, so I know it's just an industrial area of the city. You could tell that in their minds THIS was Chicago. It obviously got better once we arrived at Halsted. But that ride in from Midway is quite misleading. I'm not sure how the riders get to the train, I'm guessing buses? It would have been nice had their been more residential areas the Orange Line could have served directly...

I understand why it went where it did though....just too bad it had to work out that way. Think how the Brown Line is such a part of those neighborhoods, and so many thousands of people can just walk down the street and hop on the train (like me).


All times are GMT. The time now is 7:14 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.