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Dr. Taco Nov 29, 2007 3:28 AM

:hell:

I'm so disgusted. I've been trying to defend the CTA from a friend of mine from Spain who can do nothing but criticize the rail system we use every day. He can't understand why such a prosperous nation can't make rail system that runs with comfortable quiet on-time trains. I try to say that we don't need to fix what's not "broken", but I have to agree. The money is there, its just that public transportation isn't prioritized. Its unbelievable that this plan failed as well. I actually hope that the operators will go on strike if it means that something will positively come about

the urban politician Nov 29, 2007 3:39 AM

^ What transit plan failed? I can't find anything about it in the news. There has already been a vote on the gas tax proposal?

Blago and Madigan's stupidity is so outrageous at this point. They are letting a small handful of downstate conservatives control the fate of Chicago's transit system. Every stinking one of the people involved in this shamble absolutely MUST be voted out of office in the next election.

spyguy Nov 29, 2007 3:46 AM

:previous:
House votes down latest CTA bailout

the urban politician Nov 29, 2007 3:46 AM

^ Yup. Just found the article.

The gas tax proposal was a long shot anyhow.

emathias Nov 29, 2007 4:08 AM

Madrid
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jstush04 (Post 3194249)
:hell:

I'm so disgusted. I've been trying to defend the CTA from a friend of mine from Spain who can do nothing but criticize the rail system we use every day. He can't understand why such a prosperous nation can't make rail system that runs with comfortable quiet on-time trains. I try to say that we don't need to fix what's not "broken", but I have to agree. The money is there, its just that public transportation isn't prioritized. Its unbelievable that this plan failed as well. I actually hope that the operators will go on strike if it means that something will positively come about

Madrid has, in my opinion, one of the the best transit systems in the world. Barcelona has a great one, too, although Madrid's is really, really impressive. They're still expanding, but they already have the highest number of metro stations in Europe on a per-capita basis.

They also build their subway extremely cheaply. I don't know the geology of Madrid, but they're building out their subway for a mere fraction of what American subways cost to build.

If Chicago were serious about building a world-class transit system, Daley would pay Madrid transit's head whatever he wanted to come to Chicago for 5 years to remake the way Chicago does transit from the top down. Of course to do that, Daley would have to fight some politically difficult battles, but Madrid does <I>something</i> different and Chicago needs to learn what that is.

JV_325i Nov 29, 2007 4:10 AM

This is completely changing the subject and may seem trivial in light of the news about the transit funding plan not passing the house (which in spite of being totally fucking ridiculous I sort of knew was going to happen), but did anyone see that CTA "Holiday Train" or whatever they are calling it? Or rather did anyone see a similar one (I don't know how many they decked out). I was at the Damen blue line stop today and was waiting around for a while then lo and behold WTF is coming at me?! This thing had more lights and decorations on it than 100+ gaudy suburban homes put together. It was pretty impressive what they had done with it (inside and out). At least the CTA can have a little fun with itself even though their situation sucks ass. Sorry I don't have any pictures of it, but I had heard from someone on board that it was a "today only" deal which may or may not be true. Sorry also if this is a regular thing they do every year and you all have seen it before but this was the first time I have.

j korzeniowski Nov 29, 2007 4:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3194282)
^ Yup. Just found the article.

The gas tax proposal was a long shot anyhow.

sorry, i have become so personally invested in this, and i have put so much of my free time into this, i was too disgusted to do anything but curse this state.

i really love chicago, but ... well, come on ...

ardecila Nov 29, 2007 4:41 AM

CDOT: Advance work for Grand/State Station Expansion begins 12/3

Starting Monday, December 3, the intersection of State Street and Grand Avenue will see temporary daytime closures through December. The closures will allow crews to perform underground utility work [in preparation for station construction].

One or two lanes on each street will be closed intermittently during daytime hours only, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At least one lane will always remain open to traffic.

Lane configurations on both State and Grand will change every two days. Some sidewalk sections/crosswalks will be closed. All closures will be clearly marked with signs and barricades.

http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/w...tItemAction.do

Dr. Taco Nov 29, 2007 5:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3194322)
Madrid has, in my opinion, one of the the best transit systems in the world. Barcelona has a great one, too, although Madrid's is really, really impressive. They're still expanding, but they already have the highest number of metro stations in Europe on a per-capita basis.

They also build their subway extremely cheaply. I don't know the geology of Madrid, but they're building out their subway for a mere fraction of what American subways cost to build.

If Chicago were serious about building a world-class transit system, Daley would pay Madrid transit's head whatever he wanted to come to Chicago for 5 years to remake the way Chicago does transit from the top down. Of course to do that, Daley would have to fight some politically difficult battles, but Madrid does <I>something</i> different and Chicago needs to learn what that is.


Honestly, that is such an absolutely great idea. They've got something that works, so why not bring them in and have them run the show? I'm sure there's got to be a really good reason why its so expensive to expand things here, but I'm so jealous of european transit. I can live with the CTA as its been, but if it can be better, why not?

BuildCTPlace Nov 29, 2007 6:07 AM

Montrose on Brown Line has reopened, and it looks good!

Photos from flickr
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2045/...9abf9328_b.jpg
User: vxla

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2184/...e0cbe96c_b.jpg
User: TheeErin

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2313/...749ed1f4_b.jpg
user: vxla

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2270/...b4430c36_b.jpg
user: vxla
Wow check out that entrance. It looks too good for Chicago.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2052/...d8d8ccb9_b.jpg
user: vxla
Supposedly a mural of street names. This is what CTA capital funds buy you.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2371/...c7b33fbd_b.jpg
user: vxla

Attrill Nov 29, 2007 6:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by j korzeniowski (Post 3194169)
transit plan failed.

fuck this state.

Wihtout a plan to fill the hole it left in the state budget, as well as some money for road construction to appease downstate politicians, it was doomed from the start. I was amazed it was talked up as much as it was.
The AP report that came out today about Blago lying about where the funds came from to avert the last doomsday plan probably didn't help either.

Marcu Nov 29, 2007 8:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 3194556)
Wihtout a plan to fill the hole it left in the state budget, as well as some money for road construction to appease downstate politicians, it was doomed from the start. I was amazed it was talked up as much as it was.
The AP report that came out today about Blago lying about where the funds came from to avert the last doomsday plan probably didn't help either.

They're all just playing games with each other. I'm getting too tired to keep up on who's trying to screw over who in Springfield. No one wants transit cut and no one wants to pay. Eventually, something will have to give. When it does, I'll start paying attention. Otherwise, I'll just be falling for their games.

VivaLFuego Nov 29, 2007 3:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jstush04 (Post 3194473)
Honestly, that is such an absolutely great idea. They've got something that works, so why not bring them in and have them run the show? I'm sure there's got to be a really good reason why its so expensive to expand things here, but I'm so jealous of european transit. I can live with the CTA as its been, but if it can be better, why not?

Guys, no offense, but you really just don't know how it works. You can't bring in some engineers from Madrid and have them make a system for Chicago. The legal environment here is just so drastically different: from a government/legislative standpoint, and especially from a labor (construction pricing) standpoint. The problems with the CTA are not due to uncreative engineers or administrators, but rather, as someone else pointed out, that public transit is just NOT a priority for legislators in this country. High ridership (fare revenue) and high subsidy make the operating environment for European transit agencies completely incomparable to US agencies, and further the priority given to transit projects over there makes the capital construction process much smoother and faster.

VivaLFuego Nov 29, 2007 3:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BuildCTPlace (Post 3194553)
Supposedly a mural of street names. This is what CTA capital funds buy you.

I'd just like to point out that public art installations (something like 1.5% of the construction budget) are mandated by the federal government, so if you take any federal money for the project you have to do it.

emathias Nov 30, 2007 6:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3194995)
Guys, no offense, but you really just don't know how it works. You can't bring in some engineers from Madrid and have them make a system for Chicago. The legal environment here is just so drastically different: from a government/legislative standpoint, and especially from a labor (construction pricing) standpoint. The problems with the CTA are not due to uncreative engineers or administrators, but rather, as someone else pointed out, that public transit is just NOT a priority for legislators in this country. High ridership (fare revenue) and high subsidy make the operating environment for European transit agencies completely incomparable to US agencies, and further the priority given to transit projects over there makes the capital construction process much smoother and faster.

There are things they do differently that can be done here. Period. There are things they do there that currently can't be done here, but could be done there with the right incentive. Period. There are things done there that won't be done here for a variety of reasons. Period.

I get tired of hearing that "it just won't work here" as an excuse to not even try.

The current failure of funding has little to do with the exorbitant cost of construction public works (not just transit) incur in Chicago. Some of that is due to political factors, some of that is due to the demand for construction services being very high right now, but a significant portion of it is due to things that can be improved through better integration. Things like a lack of coordination between the City and CTA when it came to permits for the Brown Line construction project. Things like zoning and transit not doing enough to account for each other. Things like the workers I saw for the Chicago Brown Line stop sitting in their trucks for hours on end day after day. Dollars add up fast when either project managers plan projects so poorly that men are left with no work to do, or when managers don't task employees properly, or if employees are simply alowed to be lazy (which of those is the explanation in that case, I'm not sure, but those are really the only three reasons I know of for workers to be on perpetual breaks).

Your whine about high subsidy in Europe is also a bit disingenuous since the CTA is nearly 100% subsidized for infrastructure, and probably over 70% subsidized for operations once you get into the real numbers and add back in things like the fact that the City pays for all security related to the CTA (of note, also, is that the public, RTA number of "53%" is PR bullshit - if you don't believe me, read the Auditor General's report from earlier this year).

High ridership is a valid comment, but that partly goes back to the failure of city zoning to support the use of transit by encouraging density nearest the best transit infrastructure. As long as groups like the West Loop association can browbeat an alderman into limiting density in one of the best-served transit areas in the city, transit in this city will never live up to its potential. The inconsistencies created by Aldermanic privilege does as much or more to hurt transit as poor funding does.

VivaLFuego Nov 30, 2007 3:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3196972)
There are things they do differently that can be done here. Period. There are things they do there that currently can't be done here, but could be done there with the right incentive. Period. There are things done there that won't be done here for a variety of reasons. Period.

I get tired of hearing that "it just won't work here" as an excuse to not even try.

The current failure of funding has little to do with the exorbitant cost of construction public works (not just transit) incur in Chicago. Some of that is due to political factors, some of that is due to the demand for construction services being very high right now, but a significant portion of it is due to things that can be improved through better integration. Things like a lack of coordination between the City and CTA when it came to permits for the Brown Line construction project. Things like zoning and transit not doing enough to account for each other. Things like the workers I saw for the Chicago Brown Line stop sitting in their trucks for hours on end day after day. Dollars add up fast when either project managers plan projects so poorly that men are left with no work to do, or when managers don't task employees properly, or if employees are simply alowed to be lazy (which of those is the explanation in that case, I'm not sure, but those are really the only three reasons I know of for workers to be on perpetual breaks).

Your whine about high subsidy in Europe is also a bit disingenuous since the CTA is nearly 100% subsidized for infrastructure, and probably over 70% subsidized for operations once you get into the real numbers and add back in things like the fact that the City pays for all security related to the CTA (of note, also, is that the public, RTA number of "53%" is PR bullshit - if you don't believe me, read the Auditor General's report from earlier this year).

High ridership is a valid comment, but that partly goes back to the failure of city zoning to support the use of transit by encouraging density nearest the best transit infrastructure. As long as groups like the West Loop association can browbeat an alderman into limiting density in one of the best-served transit areas in the city, transit in this city will never live up to its potential. The inconsistencies created by Aldermanic privilege does as much or more to hurt transit as poor funding does.

Metropolitan transit subsidy per capita (e.g. per metropolitan resident) is typically 2-4 times higher in Europe than in Chicago. London is about twice as much (reflected in their very high fares), Paris is about 4 times as much. Yes CTA is subsidized alot, but it's subsidized a great deal less than European agencies, let alone even other USA agencies like MBTA, LAMTA, BART, which all have fare recovery ratios in the 30-35% range. NY MTA is supported by windfall bridge/tunnel toll revenue (thank you, Rockefeller), which is a major boon for capital investment projects. SEPTA has historically awful funding comparable to CTA, and shocka, they're always in crisis mode and getting dumped on by everyone (sound familiar?).

Construction contracts are awarded to low bidders for a fixed price (though subject to change orders, obviously). If a construction worker is idling, that's the contractor's problem, not CTA's, and in theory CTA is already paying the lowest price by having awarded to the lowest bidder (there is certainly room for graft involving sub-contractor selection in the procurement process; see Silver Shovel. But I've yet to hear any allegations, let alone substantiated allegations, in regards to the Brown Line project).

Marcu Nov 30, 2007 6:12 PM

The CTA has essentially turned a blind eye to overwhelming evidence of bid collusion on several projects. When bids are coming in at 2 or 3 times over what was projected, there is good reason to investigate. The Grand reconstruction is a good example. Collusion is rampant in almost all municipal infrastructure, but not to this level. The markup is rarely this high.

As far as the European Systems, like the Canadian government (or the US government on the war), the European governments have gotten very good at concealing the true costs of most projects. While it may appear that the agency paid 2 or 3 times less, if you map out all the sources of funding over time you will notice that the cost is not much different. Also, labor costs are lower and the cost of healthcare is not figured into the bid (although it inevitably ends up being paid for).

emathias Nov 30, 2007 8:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3197366)
Yes CTA is subsidized alot, but it's subsidized a great deal less than European agencies, let alone even other USA agencies like MBTA, LAMTA, BART, which all have fare recovery ratios in the 30-35% range. But I've yet to hear any allegations, let alone substantiated allegations, in regards to the Brown Line project).

Contractors don't usually lose money on public works projects. If they feel they can survive slack workers, I'd buy it being because of collusion pricing.

If you think the CTA's true fare recovery ratio is the publicized 53%, then you haven't read their actual budget numbers, and you haven't read the Auditor General's report from earlier this year. That 53% number discounts a broad range of things that are typically included in other agency's numbers. The true fare recovery ration for the CTA, if using industry-standard calculations is closer to 35%.

VivaLFuego Nov 30, 2007 8:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3197690)
The CTA has essentially turned a blind eye to overwhelming evidence of bid collusion on several projects. When bids are coming in at 2 or 3 times over what was projected, there is good reason to investigate. The Grand reconstruction is a good example. Collusion is rampant in almost all municipal infrastructure, but not to this level. The markup is rarely this high.

In fairness, the Grand reconstruction was bid out and awarded by CDOT, not CTA (CTA's last construction contract snafu was the Brown Line, which was generally agreed to be bad cost estimating by the consultant rather than greedy construction contractors). Construction costs in general have been skyrocketing, so high bids alone don't necessarily point to collusion. And similarly, why would companies collude on a low-bid contract? How do they agree which company gets to win the contract by bidding low? And after that agreement, why wouldn't the others, with that knowledge, just bid $1 less than the agreed upon amount, thereby winning the bid for an identical profit margin? The low-bid system is sound at combating the incentive to collude, in my opinion (in contrast to the negotiated contract procurement method, which incidentally is what they used in Madrid). However, sub-contractor selection is much spottier and much more prone to corruption, in almost any form of procurement other than having the prime- and sub-contractors bid on the contract separately. (The "general public" would probably flip out if they knew the details behind the DBE/MBE/WBE programs for contract awards). If there is any collusion, it would have to be taking place at the sub-contractor level. But frankly, these issues are outside CTA's control, so is it really fair to blame CTA Construction/Engineering/Law/Procurement etc for them? Those folks aren't the ones making the rules or political environment.

Good points on the artificially low cost estimates of Euro and Candadian projects, too.

VivaLFuego Nov 30, 2007 9:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3198083)

If you think the CTA's true fare recovery ratio is the publicized 53%, then you haven't read their actual budget numbers, and you haven't read the Auditor General's report from earlier this year. That 53% number discounts a broad range of things that are typically included in other agency's numbers. The true fare recovery ration for the CTA, if using industry-standard calculations is closer to 35%.

OK; fare recovery is closer to 40-45%, considering the city covers security services and advertising/investment revenues account for about 5% of operating revenues. So operational cost recovery is still 53%. But such scenarios and semantical distinctions are in play with all other transit systems, as well. CTA's operating subsidy per ride (ballpark of $1.30, if I remember correctly) is one of the, if not the, lowest in the country for comparable systems.


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