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spyguy Jul 11, 2008 8:46 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/featur...,2044717.story

Life in the fast lane: CTA eyes Cleveland's buses
Chicago set to test its own express lanes, which are cheaper than rail projects

By Jon Hilkevitch
11:37 PM CDT, July 10, 2008


Don't dare dismiss the new $200 million transit service starting up here as just another bus line.

Officials certainly aren't at the Chicago Transit Authority, which is studying Cleveland's experiment before launching its own "bus rapid transit" here in about a year.

Extra-long, hybrid diesel buses featuring stylized touches that resemble sleek high-speed trains pull up to platforms at shiny steel-and-glass stations in the median of a major Cleveland thoroughfare.

aaron38 Jul 11, 2008 11:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Taft (Post 3667088)
Sure, he needs to "fight back" against Madigan's slimy positioning, but to rip funding away from his own mandates (which are still in effect, BTW) is just stupid.

Exactly. Blago should go to the people and say "Well, I tried, but there's no money, sorry", and CUT the program. Instead he keeps the program and cuts the funding. And the money is supposed to come from where now?

Hopefully, transit ridership jumps another 10% or so.

OhioGuy Jul 11, 2008 11:22 PM

Four-track bliss this afternoon at Belmont. They opened up the new inner southbound tracks & platform for red line trains and also still had the old outer southbound tracks & wood platform open for brown & purple line trains. So three of the four tracks & platforms are now finished at Belmont. Just one more to go! :banana: (and they're further ahead than that at Fullerton)

Also I'm excited that over the past two days they seem to have eliminated the slow zone on the northbound red line tracks near Diversey. I'm not sure if the slow zone was in place because of track condition or because of construction work at Wellington, but every day the red line trains I've been on have been slowing down at Diversey and progressing slowly until nearly up to Belmont. But as I said, the past two days the red line has maintained a reasonably decent speed through that area. :banana:

One little scary moment last night on the Red line. I was riding it north from the loop and the train was speeding along the tracks under the river toward Grand. Just as we started approaching that station, we passed through the open area of the subway where the trains can switch tracks if needed (it's just south of Grand). Anyway, I was sitting in the front car and we crossed over where the track switching area is. Those areas aren't usually as smooth going over as the normal tracks tend to be, but at the speed we were going the front car kicked so forcefully to the right (or maybe it was to the left) that I was amazed it didn't go flying off the tracks. I could hear a sort of collective gasp from within the car and as I looked around everyones' eyes were wide open in a kind of semi-shocked look. Funny enough, three little kids were in the same car and as they got off the train at Grand with their mother, I could hear them saying how much they like riding on trains & planes, lol. They weren't phased at all. :haha: But damn that jolt freaked me out for a second or two.

Marcu Jul 13, 2008 1:55 AM

As I was sitting on the red line today, 3 questions came to mind:

1. When will the slow zones on the red line subway be fixed? Why isn't this top priority, being the most heavily used part of the the entire system?
2. Are there any plans to go back to having A/B trains and A/B stops? It's really not necessary to have so many stops so close together on the north line (eg Granville/Thorndale, Wilson/Lawrence/Argyle). It seems like the system was constructed to have trains skip every other stop. Why not go back to that. It really shouldn't take an hour to travel from the Loop to Howard as it does now. Skipping every other stop north of Sheridan can trip over 10 minutes off the commute.
3. Are concrete track ties really that much more expensive than wood ties over the long run in Chicago's climate and with current labor costs? Aren't we setting ourselves up for another slow zone hell when the ties start rotting again?

Mr Downtown Jul 13, 2008 4:19 PM

Skip-stop service wasn't instituted until 1948, after CTA took over and closed a lot of stops. There were once also stops at Schiller, Larrabee, Halsted, Willow, Webster, Wrightwood, Roscoe, Grace, and Buena. When the L was built, it competed with streetcars for downtown passengers, and convenient stops attracted patrons.

When A/B service was instituted, headways were much shorter than they now are. Today, it's not terribly difficult to model the system and calculate whether riders save time when you include the time they have to wait for a train that will stop at their station. By the 1990s, train frequency had declined so much that there was a net loss of time for passengers from skip-stop service.

Marcu Jul 13, 2008 4:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3670470)
By the 1990s, train frequency had declined so much that there was a net loss of time for passengers from skip-stop service.

That's assuming people can't get off at say Granville if they normaly get off at Thorndale (2 blocks away). I think it stems more from the mindset that people need the train to stop directly in front of their house every time.

VivaLFuego Jul 13, 2008 4:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3668093)
Those areas aren't usually as smooth going over as the normal tracks tend to be, but at the speed we were going the front car kicked so forcefully to the right (or maybe it was to the left) that I was amazed it didn't go flying off the tracks.

You'd be surprised just how much lateral force trains can take and stay on the rails... as long as the track gauge (width between the rails) is maintained.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3669892)
As I was sitting on the red line today, 3 questions came to mind:

1. When will the slow zones on the red line subway be fixed? Why isn't this top priority, being the most heavily used part of the the entire system?

3. Are concrete track ties really that much more expensive than wood ties over the long run in Chicago's climate and with current labor costs? Aren't we setting ourselves up for another slow zone hell when the ties start rotting again?

Uh, Huberman has bonded out years worth of future federal capital funds to fix all slow zones systemwide ASAP (spending future money, with interest) . The long slow zone in place between Clark/Division and North/Clybourn is because the ties are currently being replaced. They've already been replaced completely between Roosevelt and Clark/Division. This work has been highly accelerated as a priority at any cost. Further, all subway ties are being replace with concrete, which is part of why it takes so long to replace them (you can only pour and cure the concrete over a long weekend shutdown, and before that you have to remove the old ties and place the wood forms for the concrete). What more could you expect CTA to do on this front, other than place the busiest portions of the system under a multi-week closure like they are doing presently on the O'Hare branch?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3670470)
When A/B service was instituted, headways were much shorter than they now are. Today, it's not terribly difficult to model the system and calculate whether riders save time when you include the time they have to wait for a train that will stop at their station. By the 1990s, train frequency had declined so much that there was a net loss of time for passengers from skip-stop service.

Exactly... not much to add here. However, if the Red Line or Brown Line again see service demand warranting headways of 2-3 minutes, A/B service might again be justified (assuming CTA could increase its fleet size, since it's already at the brink in that regard). Further, as with anything, if you institute A/B service on one branch serving one perceived demographic, the other demographics will complain about why they aren't getting special treatment. Of course, if that disadvantaged demographic were the ones proposed to get skip-stop, they'd complain how they are being singled out for this difficult change that will force granny to wait even longer for a train amongst the dangerous hoodlums up to no good in her neighborhood. So, I'm not optimistic it'll happen anytime soon, though I'm a huge proponent of it if headways get down in the 2-3 minute range.

Mr Downtown Jul 13, 2008 4:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3670507)
That's assuming people can't get off at say Granville if they normaly get off at Thorndale (2 blocks away).

Good point. I sometimes forget that every transit rider is a healthy 23-year-old man, and every day in Chicago is beautiful and 72 degrees. What's most important is that you not be delayed another 45 seconds getting to Evanston.

When you're trying to attract patrons, you don't close stations where lots of people board every day.

the urban politician Jul 13, 2008 5:39 PM

Viva, how much more "stable" (is that the right word?) are concrete ties versus wooden ones? Have there been any studies so that we may estimate how long it will be before they'll need to be replaced again?

VivaLFuego Jul 13, 2008 7:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3670582)
Viva, how much more "stable" (is that the right word?) are concrete ties versus wooden ones? Have there been any studies so that we may estimate how long it will be before they'll need to be replaced again?

Amusingly enough, the Dan Ryan and Kennedy extensions were actually built with concrete ties circa 1969-1970... which lasted a handful of years before cracking and disintegrating and requiring replacement... with wood ties. If wood ties come from good stock** and are periodically cared for with creosote, they can comfortably last 40-50 years. Heck, the wooden subway ties lasted nearly 60 years before disintegrating to their current unsafe state. I think the assumption is that properly mixed and reinforced concrete can last indefinitely, but there aren't many comparable examples with which to compare the real-life lifecycle of concrete ties. Going forward, CTA is only installing concrete ties in the subways, and all outdoor ties are being replaced with plastic composite (that recycled-milk-carton material) that should also last "indefinitely."

** The ties on the O'Hare extension wore out after only 25 years because they were installed by a mobbed-up Chicago-style contractor (DePrizio) who cut costs on the ties to pass the savings onto himself to protect the small margin at his poorly run operation, an operation that required a direct loan from the city just to finish its portion of the O'Hare extension contract. Incidentally, the company wound up bankrupt and the owner was found shot in a ditch or something.

VivaLFuego Jul 13, 2008 7:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3670507)
That's assuming people can't get off at say Granville if they normaly get off at Thorndale (2 blocks away). I think it stems more from the mindset that people need the train to stop directly in front of their house every time.

True, but that's only applicable for a handful of closely spaced station on the North Main. On most lines, even 1/4-mile spacing is enough that someone wants to take a train to their particular station.

Again, at a 3-minute-or-less combined headway, this becomes pretty feasible. but once headways are widened it becomes an unnecessary burden on travel time. Not that my opinion matters, but I'd be a strong proponent of bringing back skip-stop for on the Brown and Red during peak periods. Another nice advantage of skip-stop is that it reduces your running time, meaning that if you skip enough stops to reduce your running time by a whole headway, then you've saved an entire trainset that you can then use to increase your frequency at no additional operating cost.

Marcu Jul 13, 2008 8:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3670519)
Good point. I sometimes forget that every transit rider is a healthy 23-year-old man, and every day in Chicago is beautiful and 72 degrees. What's most important is that you not be delayed another 45 seconds getting to Evanston.

Um. Most of the time I actually get off on one of those stops I'm proposing to skip.

And not every transit rider is an 85 year old grandma either. It's mostly the same people you'd readily mock for needing ample parking right next to where they're going, and not being able to walk a few blocks.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3670519)
When you're trying to attract patrons, you don't close stations where lots of people board every day.

To attract riders, the system can't take an hour to travel 6 miles. Most people in Chicago don't take mass transit on weekends because it's too damn slow. Edgwater to the Loop is 15 min by car (25 in traffic) and 50 via red line.

Thiss message board is probably the only place leftin Chicago where the consensus for why people still drive in Chicago is that there is no el stop within 1 block of their house, not that it takes 1/5 the time to drive. I'm not saying the CTA needs to become Metra, but some common sense solutions to decrease travel time may actually attract riders.

Marcu Jul 13, 2008 8:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3670828)
Again, at a 3-minute-or-less combined headway, this becomes pretty feasible. but once headways are widened it becomes an unnecessary burden on travel time.

Agreed. But I just don't see the CTA reaching the levels of ridership that would warrant 3 min combined headways with the current quality of service. New ridership will follow faster and more reliable service, especially on the weekends and off-peak hours.

the urban politician Jul 13, 2008 8:22 PM

I guess I'm just confused. If the red line has the additional trackage to run skip-stop service, then why not just have traditional local/express service? Can't that be done?

Nowhereman1280 Jul 13, 2008 9:09 PM

^^^ Well they already have the Purple line...

I don't think the Purple line is enough, they should run Red Express Lines that stop at every 4th stop or so or just the major stops like Howard, Loyola, Lawrence (mainly when concerts are letting out), Addison, Belmont, and then go back to normal trains after Fullerton... That would shave probably 15 min off the commute downtown for a great number of riders who could take local trains to the major stops and then catch an express downtown...

Mr Downtown Jul 14, 2008 3:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3670852)
To attract riders, the system can't take an hour to travel 6 miles. . . some common sense solutions to decrease travel time may actually attract riders.

I don't think eliminating one or two station stops is going to make the difference. As it happens, I was out on the Brown Line this afternoon, so I timed a few stops. Train stop to train start is generally 10-12 seconds. To roughly approximate total delay from a station stop, I counted beginning of deceleration time to train start (in other words, assuming the acceleration time equaled the deceleration time). I counted 20 to 25 seconds lost to each stop. The longest was at Belmont, where extra time was given for changing trains: total, 27 seconds.

emathias Jul 14, 2008 3:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3670507)
That's assuming people can't get off at say Granville if they normaly get off at Thorndale (2 blocks away). I think it stems more from the mindset that people need the train to stop directly in front of their house every time.

2 blocks is 1/4 mile in Chicago numbering, and 1/4 mile is 5 minutes for the average person. A stop in any given stretch adds about a minute once you factor in deceleration, wait time and acceleration. So you better be skipping at least five stops to make up that extra walking. If the average stations are 1/2 mile apart and the average rail trip is 5 miles, then on average people would only just break even counting extra walk time. That doesn't even factor in extra wait time since many given stations will have 1/2 as many trains.

I'm all for dedicated express service on the north main - I've mentioned it a couple times on here - but A-B service is not a great plan unless you're also planning to increase frequency by at least 50%. Trips will be faster once slow zones are all back under control, and in the case of the Red Line, express buses do a good job coming from the north lakefront to downtown.

Just my two cents.

honte Jul 14, 2008 4:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3670821)
** The ties on the O'Hare extension wore out after only 25 years because they were installed by a mobbed-up Chicago-style contractor (DePrizio) who cut costs on the ties to pass the savings onto himself to protect the small margin at his poorly run operation, an operation that required a direct loan from the city just to finish its portion of the O'Hare extension contract. Incidentally, the company wound up bankrupt and the owner was found shot in a ditch or something.

Finally, after waiting year upon excruciating year, I finally read something in this thread that makes me happy.

the urban politician Jul 14, 2008 2:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3671393)
I don't think eliminating one or two station stops is going to make the difference. As it happens, I was out on the Brown Line this afternoon, so I timed a few stops. Train stop to train start is generally 10-12 seconds. To roughly approximate total delay from a station stop, I counted beginning of deceleration time to train start (in other words, assuming the acceleration time equaled the deceleration time). I counted 20 to 25 seconds lost to each stop. The longest was at Belmont, where extra time was given for changing trains: total, 27 seconds.

^ I would also factor in the likelihood that local trains are probably going to reach lower top speeds because they have to stop more frequently. Ideally, an express train that will skip 6 or 7 stops may actually be able to reach a higher maximum speed and maintain it for much longer.

VivaLFuego Jul 14, 2008 3:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by honte (Post 3671505)
Finally, after waiting year upon excruciating year, I finally read something in this thread that makes me happy.

Yep... the loan from the city was reportedly personally requested/required by Ms. Byrne herself, who subsequently received sizable campaign donations from DePrizio (:tup: ), who couldn't even fully finish the work anyway. The various lawsuits by and between creditors following bankruptcy actually led to a sizable body of corporate case law and a legal concept known as "The DePrizio Doctrine." Apparently, after the Feds were bearing down and ready to indict on RICO, the assumption that he'd roll over in a plea deal was enough for him to wind up dead. And as to who ordered the hit...?

Ah, Chicago.


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