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streetline Jan 6, 2023 3:33 AM

If we're daydreaming about new rapid transit, how about starting a bit smaller, with a 2.5 mile branch off of the Red Line under Clybourn with stops at Cortland, Fullerton, Diversey, and Belmont.

That'd give us stations at every major cross street for bus connections (both east-west and north-south), with a nice fast 2/3 mile spacing between stations just like the Blue Line. And there'd be no walk-shed overlap with any other lines at any station except Cortland (which would be 1/3mi from Armitage, so even there the overlap isn't too bad).

This line would be servicing an area without current rapid transit that includes a one of a kind natural resource (the river) that seems destined for massive redevelopment over the coming decades.

And it'd be a simple straight shot entirely under the road, so in my dream we could build it cut-and-cover, for a quarter billion per mile, plus another quarter billion per station. Adding that up we could have a new line with 4 new stations in a very strategically important area for under $2B.

That's the cost of one large skyscraper; Lincoln yards alone is supposed to cost $6B and it's only a fraction of the land along the river that is likely to find higher and better use over the coming decades.

Busy Bee Jan 6, 2023 3:54 AM

Solid

ardecila Jan 6, 2023 4:51 AM

I don't love the idea of adding more branches. Think about it; there are limited slots in the State St subway, so every train that goes to the Clybourn branch is a train that can't go to Howard - and the section from North/Clybourn to Howard is the busiest part of the whole CTA system! During nights and weekends when frequency is already low, a branching design makes it twice as bad.

The other option is to run the Clybourn branch like a shuttle, and force riders to transfer to/from the Red Line. But that requires an elaborate/complex station design at the transfer point; you don't want the shuttle train on the same tracks as the main line.

I've seen some ideas to do this on the Green Line - all Green Line trains would then run to 63/Ashland, and the Cottage Grove trains would run as a shuttle to Garfield.

streetline Jan 6, 2023 6:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9831660)
I don't love the idea of adding more branches. Think about it; there are limited slots in the State St subway, so every train that goes to the Clybourn branch is a train that can't go to Howard - and the section from North/Clybourn to Howard is the busiest part of the whole CTA system! During nights and weekends when frequency is already low, a branching design makes it twice as bad.

The other option is to run the Clybourn branch like a shuttle, and force riders to transfer to/from the Red Line. But that requires an elaborate/complex station design at the transfer point; you don't want the shuttle train on the same tracks as the main line.

I've seen some ideas to do this on the Green Line - all Green Line trains would then run to 63/Ashland, and the Cottage Grove trains would run as a shuttle to Garfield.

That's a good point. On a similar note, I'd worry about the junction with the existing red line creating a bottleneck (or requiring an expensive underground flyover to avoid creating one).

But on the other hand, while I'm not a rail expert, I'm skeptical that the State Street subway is an unsolvable bottleneck. Maybe some aspect of current equipment or procedures limits headways to the 5 minutes between trains that is the current maximum rate on the Red Line schedule. But other rapid transit systems have tighter schedules.

For instance the MTA's 7 train has some runs scheduled within 2min of each other, and I see people online saying their headways are limited at 90 seconds. If the Red Line could match those 90s headways, we'd more than triple capacity; and if we went from 8 car trains to 10 car trains as well we'd have more than quadruple the current capacity.

Jasoncw Jan 6, 2023 7:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DirectionNorth (Post 9830870)
The Detroit People Mover is widely regarded as one of America's worst transit failures - it costs $12 million in annual subsidies and total ridership in 2019 was just 1.6 million.

The Detroit People Mover has that reputation because it combines Reagan-era anti-transit sentiment, anti-city sentiment, and anti-Detroit sentiment. And also because transit people tend to repeat the same "conventional wisdom" over and over (see the comments about monorails which are easily debunked by looking at all of the actual monorails in operation).

The Detroit People Mover is a better transportation project than pretty much any streetcar, and most light rail lines in the US.

Unlike streetcars, it's a circulator that actually does a good job of circulating people, coming every few minutes with very high reliability, fairly high speed, and surprisingly high capacity. It does this at a reasonable cost (lower operating costs, per mile and per hour, than, for example, both Seattle's streetcar and light rail). And unlike streetcars and light rail, it provides service that could not be provided cheaper and better just by using buses instead.

Is the service it provides more valuable than the costs? It easily is, even only considering its function as a parking shuttle. It makes the use of the downtown parking supply more efficient, since people can park anywhere downtown regardless of where their destination is. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and a lot of land to build enough parking garages in each individual area of downtown. Then there's the value it brings by connecting the various hotels throughout downtown to the convention center, and the value of people just being able to get around more conveniently in general.

Quote:

Chicago has a good subway system in the central city already; a people mover would be for show.
Interestingly enough, Chicago did study building a "central area circulator" in the 90s, and included an urban people mover, possibly using the same system as Detroit's, as one of the alternatives. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...view=1up&seq=9

DirectionNorth Jan 7, 2023 12:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jasoncw (Post 9831693)
The Detroit People Mover has that reputation because it combines Reagan-era anti-transit sentiment, anti-city sentiment, and anti-Detroit sentiment. And also because transit people tend to repeat the same "conventional wisdom" over and over (see the comments about monorails which are easily debunked by looking at all of the actual monorails in operation).

The Detroit People Mover is a better transportation project than pretty much any streetcar, and most light rail lines in the US.

Unlike streetcars, it's a circulator that actually does a good job of circulating people, coming every few minutes with very high reliability, fairly high speed, and surprisingly high capacity. It does this at a reasonable cost (lower operating costs, per mile and per hour, than, for example, both Seattle's streetcar and light rail). And unlike streetcars and light rail, it provides service that could not be provided cheaper and better just by using buses instead.

Is the service it provides more valuable than the costs? It easily is, even only considering its function as a parking shuttle. It makes the use of the downtown parking supply more efficient, since people can park anywhere downtown regardless of where their destination is. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and a lot of land to build enough parking garages in each individual area of downtown. Then there's the value it brings by connecting the various hotels throughout downtown to the convention center, and the value of people just being able to get around more conveniently in general.

Interestingly enough, Chicago did study building a "central area circulator" in the 90s, and included an urban people mover, possibly using the same system as Detroit's, as one of the alternatives. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...view=1up&seq=9

Success of a transit system is measured in how many real life people use the system, not by how many use cases there theoretically are. In this case, 2 million people used it annually. Hardly a high ridership system. Although you're right, it's better than the abysmal streetcar projects elsewhere. Hardly a measure of success though :shrug:

Per mile and per hour cost hardly matter. A non-operating system costs $0 per mile, but it's not useful. I suppose a better question (to be answered in another thread) is: if you redirected that $12 million to buses, what ridership results would you get?

Anyways, I'm not Chicagoan, but the Loop exists and I don't see a transportation need for a PRT.

Busy Bee Jan 7, 2023 1:47 AM

The Chicago circulator pitched in the 90s was always a light rail/tram proposal not some PRT goofyness. I even remember seeing the logo for it that looked a bit like a Bilbao tram.

Jasoncw Jan 7, 2023 4:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DirectionNorth (Post 9832366)
Success of a transit system is measured in how many real life people use the system, not by how many use cases there theoretically are. In this case, 2 million people used it annually. Hardly a high ridership system. Although you're right, it's better than the abysmal streetcar projects elsewhere. Hardly a measure of success though :shrug:

Per mile and per hour cost hardly matter. A non-operating system costs $0 per mile, but it's not useful. I suppose a better question (to be answered in another thread) is: if you redirected that $12 million to buses, what ridership results would you get?

Anyways, I'm not Chicagoan, but the Loop exists and I don't see a transportation need for a PRT.

If you take a bus line with 10,000 riders a day that costs $50,000 per day to operate, and you spend $800 million rebuilding it as a light rail line, and since the service isn't actually an improvement it still only gets about 10,000 riders a day, and costs $250,000 per day to operate at the same frequency as before, is that a successful transit project because it carries more people than the People Mover, which is a 3 mile downtown circulator?

If the People Mover's money was redirected to the buses, you could either increase frequency across the bus network by about 10%, or you could add one additional major bus route (15 minute headways 24/7). Since the People Mover is already the 5th highest ridership route in the city, and since the potential bus routes with high ridership already have routes on them, it's almost certain that redirecting the People Mover's money to buses would result in lower overall ridership. It could be argued that the People Mover's trips are lower value, but people riding it are either downtown workers using it as part of their commute, or visitors taking it to go someplace to spend money.

And again, if you shut down the People Mover, hundreds of millions of dollars would have to be spent building parking garages, and I'm not exaggerating with that number. The NE corner of downtown has a football stadium, baseball stadium, and several large concert venues. The SW corner, over a mile away, has a convention center. In between there's offices, hotels, etc. and with more parking. Nowhere individually has enough parking within walking distance, the parking throughout downtown is shared via the People Mover.


Does a people mover make sense for Chicago?

The idea of using a people mover to connect Goose Island and the upcoming new casino to L lines makes sense. It could go from Lincoln Park to Goose Island to West Loop, and not only hit a fair number of destinations, but also relieve congestion on the loop, since people could use it to transfer between L lines without entering the loop.

Or a people mover that started in Chinatown, connected the various McCormick Place buildings together, and then ended at Alder Planetarium. It would connect a bunch of parallel transit lines with a bunch of major destinations.

Really, anywhere where you have a cluster of poorly connected destinations, where you don't need the length or the capacity of a full metro line (which Chicago needs several more of!), but where you want something better than buses, shuttles, and rideshare.

Mr. Chicago Jan 10, 2023 12:26 AM

Mr. Chicago here,
I might be imagining this idea but I believe back in the days of Rahm there was some kind of transportation improvement fund established. I seem to recall the amount of 7 billon dollars may be in that fund. What ever happened to that fund if it ever existed?

Randomguy34 Jan 11, 2023 12:20 AM

I think you're referring to the $7 billion "Building a Better Chicago". It was for infrastructure in general, not specific to transportation. The transportation investments focused on stuff like renovating CTA stations and constructing the 606 trail. The only one that wasn't completed was a full BRT treatment for Jeffery Blvd.

https://news.wttw.com/2012/03/29/ema...structure-plan

Steely Dan Jan 14, 2023 11:22 PM

Quote:

DeKalb, Ill., funds study on possible Metra service
City is 15 miles from current terminus of UP West line

By | January 13, 2023

DeKALB, Ill. — The DeKalb City Council has voted to fund a transportation study aimed at determining the feasibility of bringing Metra commuter rail service to the city.

At its meeting earlier this week, the council voted unanimously to fund a $98,379 study by Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC “to identify potential ridership, capital costs, and operating requirements as a basis for defining the financial feasibility” of Metra service.

The City Council and Northern Illinois University, which also supports the study, have asked that the results be delivered in 120 days.

Metra service on the Union Pacific West line currently terminates in Elburn, Ill., approximately 15 miles from downtown DeKalb; DeKalb’s bus system includes service to the Elburn station. Any expansion of Metra service to DeKalb faces a political hurdle in that DeKalb County is not one of the six member counties of Metra’s parent organization, the Regional Transportation Authority.
Source: https://www.trains.com/trn/news-revi...metra-service/




I don't how this would work with dekalb county not being part of RTA territory, but with a lot of Chicagoland kids attending northern, it seems like a smart idea.

Busy Bee Jan 14, 2023 11:37 PM

If UP-W gets extended to DeKalb then ME gets extended to Kankakee/Bourbonnais. It's only fair.

ardecila Jan 15, 2023 6:14 PM

I'm torn on this stuff... service to NIU is nice but I don't see how this doesn't turn into a sprawl generator. Metra expansions are tailor made for sprawl growth - big stations, big parking lots, far from existing town centers or walkable areas. They actively avoid placing stations "in town" - they know most of their ridership will drive to the stations, and it's hard to find parking for everyone in town without building expensive garages.

UP-W is also one of the country's busiest freight corridors. UP will demand a costly third track all the way out to DeKalb, like they did for Elburn.

twister244 Jan 15, 2023 9:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9839870)
I'm torn on this stuff... service to NIU is nice but I don't see how this doesn't turn into a sprawl generator. Metra expansions are tailor made for sprawl growth - big stations, big parking lots, far from existing town centers or walkable areas. They actively avoid placing stations "in town" - they know most of their ridership will drive to the stations, and it's hard to find parking for everyone in town without building expensive garages.

UP-W is also one of the country's busiest freight corridors. UP will demand a costly third track all the way out to DeKalb, like they did for Elburn.

I think for some towns/stations, yes, this is the case. I've only ridden the UP-NW route, and I feel like the stations in the inner/middle suburbs are less like that though. They have stops in the downtown areas (Des Plains, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights), and there seems to actually be respectable urban development occurring in these areas. It's the further out burbs where things start to fall into the category you are speaking of.

ardecila Jan 15, 2023 9:49 PM

Those stations have been around for 100 years or more... i'm referring to Metra's outward expansions and suburban infill stops, which are entirely about huge parking lots. The UP-W extension to Elburn, the SWS extension to Manhattan, etc are all planned around huge parking lots in the middle of cornfields. Other proposed extensions like BNSF to Plano, UP-NW to Johnsburg, SES, etc have the same problem but at least they haven't been built yet.

It seems Metra refuses to expand the system in a way that encourages walkable urban development, and if they can't do that, why bother spending scarce dollars that are reserved for public transit?

Steely Dan Jan 16, 2023 12:05 AM

^ good points ardecila.

if metra won't re-use the existing train station in town, and we instead end up with a new stop in a cornfield on the edge of dekalb surrounded by a 10 acre park n' ride lot (a la manhattan and elburn), then this whole idea is stupid.

twister244 Jan 16, 2023 12:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9839973)
Those stations have been around for 100 years or more... i'm referring to Metra's outward expansions and suburban infill stops, which are entirely about huge parking lots. The UP-W extension to Elburn, the SWS extension to Manhattan, etc are all planned around huge parking lots in the middle of cornfields. Other proposed extensions like BNSF to Plano, UP-NW to Johnsburg, SES, etc have the same problem but at least they haven't been built yet.

It seems Metra refuses to expand the system in a way that encourages walkable urban development, and if they can't do that, why bother spending scarce dollars that are reserved for public transit?

In that case, yeah, I agree. If the station can be incorporated into the DeKalb in a way that's not on the outskirts of town, then sure.

OhioGuy Jan 16, 2023 2:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steely Dan (Post 9840050)
^ good points ardecila.

if metra won't re-use the existing train station in town, and we instead end up with a new stop in a cornfield on the edge of dekalb surrounded by a 10 acre park n' ride lot (a la manhattan and elburn), then this whole idea is stupid.

That train station might not be the ideal location being further from NIU. Seems like a new station in between 1st Street & Pearl Street might be more ideal. It would be just one block southwest of the main retail corridor in downtown and from Pearl Street the walk to NIU's Central Quad is within 0.5 mile. Looks like there's a decent amount of land to the north of the tracks, as well as to the southeast, that could be redeveloped too in TOD-fashion.

OhioGuy Jan 16, 2023 2:45 PM

BTW, is there potential for Dekalb to have an arrangement with Metra that's similar to Kenosha? Kenosha County isn't one of the 6 member counties for Metra but has some type of special arrangement for service. Is that a possible avenue for Dekalb County to gain Metra service in Dekalb?

ardecila Jan 16, 2023 4:58 PM

A good compromise might be to re-use the existing downtown station and then do a 2nd station west of town that is more of a park-and-ride. The western station would be more convenient to Huskie Stadium and NIU's highrise dorms. Then 2 more stations in Cortland and Maple Park. The Elburn station kinda sucks, but there is at least a pedestrian connection to the town's street grid.

I understand the necessity of park and rides, but it's unacceptable for the train to entirely bypass town centers.

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 9840335)
BTW, is there potential for Dekalb to have an arrangement with Metra that's similar to Kenosha? Kenosha County isn't one of the 6 member counties for Metra but has some type of special arrangement for service. Is that a possible avenue for Dekalb County to gain Metra service in Dekalb?

With Kendall, DeKalb, and Boone/Winnebago Counties all looking for Metra extensions, I think the state house will have to look at this issue. The RTA Act already allows for portions of a county to join RTA, so if they want they can create a tax corridor around the rail lines while leaving the rest of the rural areas untaxed. I think if they tried that though, Kane and Mchenry


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