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nomarandlee Apr 22, 2022 4:36 PM

I can only hope that seeing another wild successful regional system in NA will embarrass some folks here and in ten years there will be a push to imitate their success because we all know bold initiatives are not going to fall out of thin air.

Those new travel times mentioned for GoTransit, if true, are more remarkable than I would have suspected.

ardecila Apr 22, 2022 6:29 PM

Different commuter railroads in the US have figured out different pieces of the puzzle already. Caltrain and Denver RTD have electrification, Caltrain has modern trainsets. MBTA has urban "subway-lite" rail service on the Fairmount Line. SEPTA has had thru-running since the 1970s. Even FrontRunner in UT has a consistent, clockface schedule rather than a rush-hour based schedule.

The problem with legacy RRs like Metra is that lots of people enjoy the current paradigm, and those tend to be some of the wealthiest and most influential people in their respective metro areas. I think Metra and NY's MTA have a lot less flexibility to try out new stuff because so many people rely on the current service. I was hoping Covid would shatter the old assumptions, and it still might. If the Loop never goes above 60% of its old daytime occupancy, then Metra's gonna be running a lot of lightly-used rush hour trains.

Busy Bee Apr 22, 2022 6:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9605667)
I think Metra and NY's MTA have a lot less flexibility to try out new stuff because so many people rely on the current service.

I think Metra and MTA don't "try out new stuff" because they have a culture of not trying out new stuff. I don't think it has much to do with current riders.

ardecila Apr 22, 2022 6:43 PM

The same riders that screamed bloody murder and called their congressmen when Metra tried to do a "construction timetable" on the UP-N a few years ago?

God forbid their 7:24 express train move to 7:18...

nomarandlee Apr 23, 2022 6:05 PM

re: Madison Street busway
 
Bus RPT idea for Madison Street......

I am sure such proposals as below for enhanced bus service have been studied before, but when I started to read about the CTA taking ideas for "Better streets for buses" this idea popped into my head.......

The primary premise for this is to cut down on transfers. Transfers that add unpredictably add 2-15minutes every workday to commuters irk riders perhaps like no other issue. My proposal would likely eliminate many of these transfers, especially for downtown workers. 

My main proposal is for all the North/South bus routes east of Halstead (Ashland, Western, Pulaski, Cicero, etc) to turn east (and west on return trips, obviously) towards downtown on a dedicated, state-of-the-art bus service lane. These Madison bus lanes would funnel all buses, most with limited stops, towards/from downtown. Once past the Kennedy, they could then split off into various routes towards downtown, River North, Streeterville, Illinois Center, South Loop etc). This would allow many riders not to transfer to either the Forest Park/Blue or Harlem/Green or bring them closer to their final destination within the loop/downtown. 

At the limited stops on Madison, those who are continuing on north or south (as opposed to downtown) can transfer at one of the enhanced transfer stops along Madison Street. By using a Madison Street bus corridor, for those who want to transfer to all buses going further north/south or to get to their final downtown destinations it may be potentially be more convenient by funneling all routes into one corridor where one can transfer to all other numerous N/S or downtown routes. 

Some crosstown trips will suffer increased times or multiple transfers that are not single-seat trips presently, which is true. However, many other crosstown trips already involve a transfer (or two) and lengthy travel times that may see times or transfers lessened depending on new routing. This system potentially allows many more riders single-seat travel to the downtown area starting from over a much more extensive area of the city. Or perhaps the current N/S routes could use this Madison Street Bus service during rush hours. Or there could be alternating buses that continue traditional N/S crosstown routes with those that use the Madison corridor or some ratio thereof. Madison street itself, under this scenario, would be a greatly enhanced connecting corridor and facility for various transfers.

I foresee relatively minimal downside and significant upside with this system. The most immediate objections would be the issue of perceived political, social, and accessibility divisions between the north/south sides. This proposal could be perceived as such even though for many, if not most riders, most north/south trips may be expedited by having one-seat bus trips to various downtown locations....... 

So curious, I know of the Monroe street bus way, but does anyone know if there has ever been serious consideration to have a N-S routes that funnel various routes east to downtown (instead of crosstown) like what I am describing?

twister244 Apr 24, 2022 3:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 9606420)
Bus RPT idea for Madison Street......

I am sure such proposals as below for enhanced bus service have been studied before, but when I started to read about the CTA taking ideas for "Better streets for buses" this idea popped into my head.......

The primary premise for this is to cut down on transfers. Transfers that add unpredictably add 2-15minutes every workday to commuters irk riders perhaps like no other issue. My proposal would likely eliminate many of these transfers, especially for downtown workers. 

My main proposal is for all the North/South bus routes east of Halstead (Ashland, Western, Pulaski, Cicero, etc) to turn east (and west on return trips, obviously) towards downtown on a dedicated, state-of-the-art bus service lane. These Madison bus lanes would funnel all buses, most with limited stops, towards/from downtown. Once past the Kennedy, they could then split off into various routes towards downtown, River North, Streeterville, Illinois Center, South Loop etc). This would allow many riders not to transfer to either the Forest Park/Blue or Harlem/Green or bring them closer to their final destination within the loop/downtown. 

At the limited stops on Madison, those who are continuing on north or south (as opposed to downtown) can transfer at one of the enhanced transfer stops along Madison Street. By using a Madison Street bus corridor, for those who want to transfer to all buses going further north/south or to get to their final downtown destinations it may be potentially be more convenient by funneling all routes into one corridor where one can transfer to all other numerous N/S or downtown routes. 

Some crosstown trips will suffer increased times or multiple transfers that are not single-seat trips presently, which is true. However, many other crosstown trips already involve a transfer (or two) and lengthy travel times that may see times or transfers lessened depending on new routing. This system potentially allows many more riders single-seat travel to the downtown area starting from over a much more extensive area of the city. Or perhaps the current N/S routes could use this Madison Street Bus service during rush hours. Or there could be alternating buses that continue traditional N/S crosstown routes with those that use the Madison corridor or some ratio thereof. Madison street itself, under this scenario, would be a greatly enhanced connecting corridor and facility for various transfers.

I foresee relatively minimal downside and significant upside with this system. The most immediate objections would be the issue of perceived political, social, and accessibility divisions between the north/south sides. This proposal could be perceived as such even though for many, if not most riders, most north/south trips may be expedited by having one-seat bus trips to various downtown locations....... 

So curious, I know of the Monroe street bus way, but does anyone know if there has ever been serious consideration to have a N-S routes that funnel various routes east to downtown (instead of crosstown) like what I am describing?

I'm all for BRT in the city. But first.... CTA needs to make their busses more reliable. I've started taking the 74 more often since it's right in front of my place, and I hate driving anywhere in the city with traffic returning to normal. Yesterday, there were two scheduled routes that just never showed up, so I ended up Ubering to Boystown.

Gotta fix low hanging fruit first by making the system reliable enough that people will actually use.

Mr Downtown Apr 24, 2022 5:27 PM

^If you have any suggestions for how to get those buses to show up without having enough bus drivers, I'm sure CTA would be very interested.

Mr Downtown Apr 24, 2022 6:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 9606420)
does anyone know if there has ever been serious consideration to have a N-S routes that funnel various routes east to downtown (instead of crosstown) like what I am describing?

No; the concept in Chicago has always been a crosstown ride to a radial ride. Crosstown horsecars were coupled to radial cable cars to be pulled downtown. Crosstown streetcar routes connected with radial streetcar lines (Lincoln, Milwaukee, Madison, Archer) at "transfer corners" that became the early 20th century's shopping centers. In the CTA era, with fare integration, you took a crosstown bus to a radial L line.

Interestingly, the bus lines we do have that work the way you suggest are sometimes attacked as wasteful or inefficient. Those are our north and south lakefront express routes, which provide one-seat rides for many patrons from lakefront apartments to Loop jobs. Yet young transit enthusiasts who favor immediate legibility over daily convenience are always suggesting ending these routes and instead making the riders come downtown on Metra Electric or the Red Line.

Klippenstein Apr 24, 2022 8:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9607116)
Interestingly, the bus lines we do have that work the way you suggest are sometimes attacked as wasteful or inefficient. Those are our north and south lakefront express routes, which provide one-seat rides for many patrons from lakefront apartments to Loop jobs. Yet young transit enthusiasts who favor immediate legibility over daily convenience are always suggesting ending these routes and instead making the riders come downtown on Metra Electric or the Red Line.

I would gladly take the Metra every day instead of the 26 bus if Metra had the same frequency especially since they reduced the cost. We seriously need better cooperation between CTA and Metra to make service better (with less redundancy). I still can't get over Lightfoot rejecting the fare integration between CTA and Metra. If people used it... it would be because it would be a better commute for them. But Lightfoot is worried about diverting revenue as if making public transit more convenient isn't going to boost ridership.

twister244 Apr 26, 2022 1:57 AM

Really interesting.... but frustrating article discussing ongoing issues - https://chi.streetsblog.org/2022/04/...lue-line-runs/

The author makes a really good point though.... If there are all of these subsidies to offset the Covid losses, where is that money going? I mean..... It's not like a Chicago agency would ever do anything improper with money. Just sayin......

ardecila Apr 26, 2022 2:27 PM

A lot of the problems are due to staffing. Some bus drivers and train operators just don't show up for work, so CTA has to cancel runs.

When veteran employees retire or quit, CTA is having a hard time finding new hires when there are other jobs that pay comparable wages without the hassles of unruly/violent passengers, or the need to pay union dues. Work rules privilege the most senior employees, so new hires are forced to "prove their mettle" by doing the hardest assignments at the worst times of day (late night/early morning etc) for years before they can get better assignments. Those assignments aren't just at bad hours, they also come with the worst/most violent gangbanger passengers, mentally ill, homeless, etc. Basically, the incentives that normally lead people to choose government jobs are now all shot to hell.

And to top that off, CTA employees are forbidden from relaxing with legal cannabis even in their off hours - maybe not a big deal for boomers, but younger prospects may find that to be a dealbreaker.

CTA can/should fix some of these issues, but much of it is in the union contract which takes years to adjust. The cannabis ban comes from the Federal government, which will cut off funding if CTA decides to stop drug testing. Etc etc. There are no quick fixes.

Randomguy34 May 16, 2022 7:28 PM

The CTA hasn't posted their ridership numbers in a while, but I found them buried in their budget documents. Ridership is now ~54% pre-pandemic levels, with 20.5 million riders. Bus ridership is recovering better than budgeted, but rail ridership is much less than the CTA expected

Mar 2022: https://www.transitchicago.com/asset...lts_Report.pdf
Mar 2019: https://www.transitchicago.com/asset...ip_2019-03.pdf

twister244 May 16, 2022 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Randomguy34 (Post 9626458)
The CTA hasn't posted their ridership numbers in a while, but I found them buried in their budget documents. Ridership is now ~54% pre-pandemic levels, with 20.5 million riders. Bus ridership is recovering better than budgeted, but rail ridership is much less than the CTA expected

Mar 2022: https://www.transitchicago.com/asset...lts_Report.pdf
Mar 2019: https://www.transitchicago.com/asset...ip_2019-03.pdf

That makes sense. As has been discussed, the buses are pretty tame compared to the crazies that I continue to witness on the trains.

homebucket May 16, 2022 10:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by twister244 (Post 9626597)
That makes sense. As has been discussed, the buses are pretty tame compared to the crazies that I continue to witness on the trains.

I would think it has more to do with busses generally being more for lower income, "essential" workers that don't have the ability to work from home and trains, especially the commuter rail, being for higher income folks that usually have more work from home options.

twister244 May 17, 2022 5:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by homebucket (Post 9626657)
I would think it has more to do with busses generally being more for lower income, "essential" workers that don't have the ability to work from home and trains, especially the commuter rail, being for higher income folks that usually have more work from home options.

That could also very well be the case, and a good observation. I've noticed the trains are slowly more busy with time. I also wonder if the increasingly record gas prices are having an impact. Either way, great to see numbers creeping up.

Randomguy34 May 17, 2022 9:02 PM

Metra's April numbers are up, and they've exceeded expectations by 19%: https://metra.com/sites/default/file...emo%20v3.1.pdf

Randomguy34 May 18, 2022 6:37 PM

I've been following Star:Line Chicago's tweets about the Metra board meeting, and decided to watch for myself. Metra's board has been surprised that weekend service is doing well and adding service on off-peaks has led to increased ridership (shocking). Apparently Metra Electric's Saturday ridership is 123% of pre-pandemic. Sunday and off-peak service is about 100%! Of course, Metra's solution to this is adding more peak service to MED....

Star:Line Chicago: https://twitter.com/StarLineChicago/...74744800772096

k1052 May 18, 2022 10:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Randomguy34 (Post 9628256)
I've been following Star:Line Chicago's tweets about the Metra board meeting, and decided to watch for myself. Metra's board has been surprised that weekend service is doing well and adding service on off-peaks has led to increased ridership (shocking). Apparently Metra Electric's Saturday ridership is 123% of pre-pandemic. Sunday and off-peak service is about 100%! Of course, Metra's solution to this is adding more peak service to MED....

Star:Line Chicago: https://twitter.com/StarLineChicago/...74744800772096

If I ran a transit agency I would simply run more transit when my surveys and stats told me that people wanted to ride. Hmm weekend ridership way up...must be something wrong with the riders.

Steely Dan May 18, 2022 10:38 PM

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/...45/713/888.jpg

ardecila May 20, 2022 7:24 PM

IDOT & CTA are seeking $400M grant from the new Infrastructure bill.

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg...linei-290-work

Apparently the project includes a big chunk of change for rebuilding sewers in the western suburbs (read: Maywood/Bellwood/Broadview). Not very sexy, but I assume that work would be included in the broader Eisenhower project so this gets it out of the way. The Federal grant program targets disadvantaged communities, so it looks like IDOT is trying to pass off part of their highway expansion as a social justice investment.

Sunken highways usually require big-time sewers so they don't turn into rivers every time it rains. The current I-75 project in Detroit included a special "deep tunnel" just to keep the highway dry, so I assume the Eisenhower will get something similar given the $400M pricetag for this piece.

The other part of the project ($160M) would rebuild the Austin and Cicero stations on the Blue Line and rebuild some portion of the crumbling tracks. Not sure if the stations will be rebuilt from the ground up, or just heavily renovated like the Medical District station a few years ago.

All in all, not getting very much out of a whopping $660M total investment IMO.


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