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 Apr 23, 2008 1:45 AM

Yea. I'm pretty sure that signal priority on buses is the cheapest way to get the CTA system running more smoothly. Anybody know how much this costs per stoplight? If CTA bought, say, 1000 units, would the unit price go down?

I imagine there would have to be some central computer coordination, or the buses in, say, River North would seriously mess up the efficient flow of traffic, with lots of perpendicular bus lines changing the coordinated stoplights in random patterns.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 1:32 PM

Signal priority doesn't usually work like the systems in some cities that allow emergency vehicles to actually change the signals to all-red. Instead, signal priority for transit usually just means that a green light is extended a few seconds if a bus is approaching, so the bus doesn't get caught by a changing light.

Chicago3rd Apr 23, 2008 1:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)

As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

It is wonderful....having lived in Portland. Same thing with the FLine in San Francisco....it works. Designated lanes help lots...lol. The reason the street cars failed in so many North American cities was because of lies and propoganda put out by the car industry....and all the saprovors that live off that industry.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 4:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3504585)
Signal priority doesn't usually work like the systems in some cities that allow emergency vehicles to actually change the signals to all-red. Instead, signal priority for transit usually just means that a green light is extended a few seconds if a bus is approaching, so the bus doesn't get caught by a changing light.

Right. The transponder on the bus will hold a green light until it gets through the intersection. Alternatively (additionally?), another form of transit signal priority is queue-jumping, where buses get a dedicated lane (far right or far left) and their own signal, so that buses waiting at an intersection get a green light before the rest of traffic. This would be particularly useful for certain chokepoints in the Chicago road network, like the exit ramp from northbound Lakeshore Drive to Belmont.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 4:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3504597)
The reason the street cars failed in so many North American cities was because of lies and propoganda put out by the car industry....and all the saprovors that live off that industry.

It's a bit more complicated than that... As Mr D has alluded to, any rail/traction power system like streetcars has a significantly higher capital cost than bus systems sharing streets with cars. Mid-century, there simply wasn't the capital investment money available to maintain streetcar infrastructure (tracks/wires/etc) in most cities. It was hard enough maintaining operations, and this was before anything resembling significant public (federal/state) subsidy for transit. Given the lack of subsidy, transit agencies that were hanging on by a financial thread had basically no choice but to gradually shift to buses which were much more rapidly scalable for changing financial and demand conditions.

Of course I'm not saying it's never worth the investment for the potential benefits you get from an electric/rail system, but the notion of streetcars failing nationwide because of a conspiracy is overblown. There were isolated cases, but the trend for public transit was toward more economical bus operations. In mid-century, auto use was being heavily subsidized (e.g. the 90% federal match for highway construction) while transit got basically nothing.

Note that this also explains why it was during the 40s and 50s that the CTA tore down several rapid transit lines, like the Humboldt Park, Normal Park, Kenwood, Stockyards branchs, and the Westchester and Berwyn extensions on the west side. Basically, there were no capital investment dollars to maintain them (though Humboldt probably could and should have been saved).

emathias Apr 23, 2008 4:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)
But how would a streetcar get around stalled traffic on Division? There's a reason streetcars in mixed street running survived nowhere except Toronto in North America. The experience is miserable for the streetcar riders creeping across town and for the drivers who get madder and madder because they can't get around the streetcar.

As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

For most of the length from Humbolt Park to as far east as Orleans, it wouldn't be horribly difficult to create dedicated lanes for streetcars. To really improve service for buses, you'd have to do that anyway. Whether either is a good use of street lanes is a different question, but even with buses if you want the bus to be used you have to give it a fighting chance to not fall tooo far behind the car's inherently better travel time.

Since part of my preference for trams is that they're electric, one good combo solution would be to buy buses that are hybrid/electric trolley-buses that are capable of running on overhead electricity and can be given dedicated lanes in some areas. A BRT solution that was run like trolleys and could run from overhead power in congested areas to reduce pollution or as a diesel for flexible routing in less congested areas could probably accomplish a lot. And even a mutant bus like that might be less expensive than a trolleycar.

emathias Apr 23, 2008 4:15 PM

Honor System?
 
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

In theory, it would reduce stop time by expediting boarding, making each trip faster and more convenient at rush hour. If better service increased ridership enough or reduced run times meant fewer buses were needed, it should offset some percentage of the revenue lost from dishonorable folks who don't pay, maybe even netting a gain in revenue.

But could it work in Chicago - are transit riders honest enough?

Abner Apr 23, 2008 7:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3503582)
As for the Portland Streetcar, bear in mind that for a tenth of the capital cost, Portland could have bought a fleet of twice as many distinctive new buses and painted a big green stripe on the street so the line would have the same "visibility." And the operating costs for the buses would have been about half, meaning they could run twice as frequently. Let's hope the Portlanders waiting in the rain for the streetcar to arrive realize how lucky they will be to be eventually get to ride in a streetcar instead of a bus.

Mr Downtown, I don't necessarily disagree with you, but Portland has gotten some benefit from the streetcar that it probably couldn't have gotten from buses. As I'm sure you know, the streetcar came along with the city's targeted redevelopment of downtown, the Pearl, and now the South Waterfront, all of which are seeing a staggering (for a city its size) amount of change. I'm sure the local government knew that the best way to get affluent people to take transit around downtown would be to make it more pleasant and "classier" than a bus. The streetcar is roomier, has smoother acceleration and a much smoother ride, is quieter, etc. It's a visible amenity and a sign of the city's commitment to inner Portland.

Now, of course, they're beginning a project to massively expand the streetcar with a route across the Broadway bridge and down MLK/Grand, which greatly need the traffic calming and beautification. And although the streetcar doesn't have its own right of way--which would definitely help--cars tend to stay clear of the streetcar lane when traffic is not too heavy. This is not to say that any of these benefits (except the smoother ride) would translate well to Chicago's case.

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3504893)
Note that this also explains why it was during the 40s and 50s that the CTA tore down several rapid transit lines, like the Humboldt Park, Normal Park, Kenwood, Stockyards branchs, and the Westchester and Berwyn extensions on the west side. Basically, there were no capital investment dollars to maintain them (though Humboldt probably could and should have been saved).

Many times have I wished it was still there. And don't forget the northern section of the Paulina connector, which I think was maybe the biggest mistake they made.

Abner Apr 23, 2008 7:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504914)
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

I don't know if they still do it, but in Prague they at least used to allow what amounted to freelance ticket enforcement. Tough guys would get some kind of license and then prowl around for ticket cheats. Not a great system to emulate, but one that probably worked. The aforementioned Portland streetcar, on the other hand, is WAY too lenient about cheating, which is one of its biggest problems.

VivaLFuego Apr 23, 2008 7:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504914)
I know in some countries, transit payments are essentially honor system - you can be asked to prove you paid, but most of the time you're on your honor. This has the benefit of allowing entrance/exit from unmanned doorways. Do you think honor-system payment for certain high-traffic bus routes would work for the CTA?

In theory, it would reduce stop time by expediting boarding, making each trip faster and more convenient at rush hour. If better service increased ridership enough or reduced run times meant fewer buses were needed, it should offset some percentage of the revenue lost from dishonorable folks who don't pay, maybe even netting a gain in revenue.

But could it work in Chicago - are transit riders honest enough?

Here's my take, make of it what you will and I'd be interested if someone has some counter-evidence:

Generally, at least in developed countries, fare enforcement is correlated to the mandated fare recovery ratio and accompanying subsidy level. e.g. agencies with a lower farebox recovery ratio, therefore a higher percentage subsidy, combined with a reliabile subsidy, can be more lax about fare enforcement (think, most light rail lines in this country which have fare recovery in the 20-30% range). Alternatively, even if the farebox recovery ratio is high, if the subsidy is generous enough then fare enforcement is less of an issue (see Metra, which has to find ways to divert operating funds to capital just to reduce its fare recovery ratio to the statutory 54% level).

CTA has a high (by American standards) fare recovery ratio, and a subsidy that shrinks in real terms every year, so being lax about fare collection just isn't a possibility unless the subsidy increases.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 7:58 PM

Self-service fare collection, which is the term the industry prefers to "honor system," is standard in Europe and for nearly all the new North American light rail systems. Portland tried it for buses in the early 90s but abandoned it a couple of years later. Los Angeles even had it for their heavy-rail Red Line, which meant downtown subway stations with no turnstiles. For various reasons, though, LA has now decided to abandon it on the Red Line.

I would not hold my breath waiting for it to come to Chicago buses.

nomarandlee Apr 23, 2008 8:26 PM

So Viva or Mr. Downtown how your analysis and projection would be for a downtown circulator system change based on LTR vs. BRT? Do you think demand and high density would make an eventual switch over from BRT to LTR realistic? Or is even the downtown area better served for all routes by bus or BRT?

Nowhereman1280 Apr 23, 2008 8:57 PM

I hope to god we never waste money on a trolley for Chicago, or bus system kicks ass and could kick more ass with the additional funding it would cost to install trolley. Or, instead of waste money on downtown trolleys, how about complete the circle line or something which would do far more good for this city.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 9:05 PM

I feel (pretty strongly) that light rail is the wrong technology for downtown Chicago. It has the disadvantages of both ordinary bus (caught in traffic) and railroads (expensive inflexible guideway). The draft EIS/Alternatives Analysis for the Central Area Circulator concluded that trips via the bus alternative would actually be a couple of minutes faster than the light rail option.

The real advantage is not in the grade-separated Carroll Street corridor, but at the ends. Especially at the Streeterville end, buses can diverge from the line-haul route and do their own circulation through narrow streets around Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It's easy to imagine three or four circulator routes--hospital, River North, Lakeshore East, Navy Pier--that all converge and run along Carroll Street, then to Ogilvie and Union. Or give the four routes different destinations at the west end as well. Run one to Ogilvie, one to Union, one to UIC, and one to Illinois Medical District. The sheltered stations along Carroll would allow you to easily switch from the bus you started on to the one ending up at your destination. I was very impressed by the way this worked in Ottawa.

aaron38 Apr 23, 2008 9:35 PM

What is the service time / milage for a typical bus on a typical day? The largest advantage of the streetcar system is that it's electric. No need to take the cars out of service to refuel, and no need for fuel at all, which considering $120 barrel oil, isn't a bad prospect.

Buses could be battery electric, but what range would an electric bus need to have to match the current milage of a diesel bus, and how much time could be allotted for recharging, which could take hours unless the battery was the zinc pellet system, or the batteries could be hot swapped by forklift.
I don't know if the technology is there yet.

aaron38 Apr 23, 2008 9:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3504901)
Since part of my preference for trams is that they're electric, one good combo solution would be to buy buses that are hybrid/electric trolley-buses that are capable of running on overhead electricity and can be given dedicated lanes in some areas. A BRT solution that was run like trolleys and could run from overhead power in congested areas to reduce pollution or as a diesel for flexible routing in less congested areas could probably accomplish a lot. And even a mutant bus like that might be less expensive than a trolleycar.

Just saw this post. Do these buses exist? That can run on overhead wires and have a diesel engine? I've never heard of overhead wires for anything not on rails. Alignment would be a bitch, but a moveable arm with a computer control loop should be able to handle it.
Interesting.

Or, this is an idea, if the ultra-capacitors reach their promise, then an electric bus may be able to get by with dedicated charging at select stops along the route. At each stop, the bus would take a quick charge good for a mile or two, then run off the ultra-caps to the next stop. A smaller battery would give the bus some meaningful range, but it would essentially be able to circulate non-stop if it was on a loop with frequent stops, and ultra-caps are good for millions of cycles.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2008 10:39 PM

Combination diesel/electric trolleybuses were used in Seattle in recent decades. Like any custom order, they're pricey and may not be the most reliable. Public Service of New Jersey had such buses in the 1930s.

Of course, dozens of North American cities had trolleybuses from the 1930s through the 60s. Chicago had them on many North Side streets until the early 70s. They still run in Boston, Dayton, Edmonton, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

In the 70s, there was a lot of talk about flywheel buses that would use regenerative braking or charging at stops to rev up a big flywheel, which would provide energy for acceleration and running. As with a lot of great theoretical ideas, there's a fair distance between a sketch in Popular Mechanics and a reliable bus ready for bidding.

Abner Apr 23, 2008 10:50 PM

I've never actually heard how much work is necessary to make the Carroll transit corridor a reality. Do any of you know what kind of money it would take to get a busway (or light rail line or whatever) running, and why the city hasn't been doing much publicly to push the project along?

sukwoo Apr 24, 2008 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3505751)
Just saw this post. Do these buses exist? That can run on overhead wires and have a diesel engine? I've never heard of overhead wires for anything not on rails. Alignment would be a bitch, but a moveable arm with a computer control loop should be able to handle it.
Interesting.

The relatively new Silver line in Boston uses dual-mode diesel/electric buses with an overhead wire. It seems to work reasonably well.

Busy Bee Apr 24, 2008 12:25 AM

Quote:

They still run in Boston, Dayton, Edmonton, Vancouver, and San Francisco.
Don't forget Seattle and Philadelphia as well.

Chicago3rd Apr 24, 2008 3:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3504893)
It's a bit more complicated than that... As Mr D has alluded to, any rail/traction power system like streetcars has a significantly higher capital cost than bus systems sharing streets with cars.

Because it was all taken and given away to highways. Detroit had some really powerful lobbying going on back then. We became car lovers and prioritized the car...tearing through neighborhoods and destroying them with super highways, draining our inner cities of people, tearing down buildings so we could park those monsters and so on...yeah it is a lot more complicated....but we all know why.

Chicago3rd Apr 24, 2008 3:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3505492)
Self-service fare collection, which is the term the industry prefers to "honor system," is standard in Europe and for nearly all the new North American light rail systems. Portland tried it for buses in the early 90s but abandoned it a couple of years later. Los Angeles even had it for their heavy-rail Red Line, which meant downtown subway stations with no turnstiles. For various reasons, though, LA has now decided to abandon it on the Red Line.

I would not hold my breath waiting for it to come to Chicago buses.

It was too confusing in Portland....you paid heading into the city was you boarded and paid when getting off from the city.....something like that...lol. It was fricken hard to remember.

Portland still does have open fair on its light rail.

OhioGuy Apr 24, 2008 4:13 AM

Seattle was like that as well when I visited. I didn't have to pay to get on the bus in downtown, but if I traveled outside a certain area I had to pay as I exited. But I made sure I took the bus to the edge of the fare free zone and then walked the remainder of the way. :)

Chicago3rd Apr 24, 2008 5:30 PM

"2008, there simply isn't the capital investment money available to maintain auto infrastructure in most cities. Given the lack of subsidy, freeway agencies that were hanging on by a financial thread had basically no choice but to gradually shift to mass transit."

I tweaked someone's opinion above in light of the state of IL annoucement that we need to spend $5 billion a year on roads in IL just to maintain them......

Mr Downtown Apr 25, 2008 6:52 PM

April 25 Central Electric Railfans' Association meeting is called "Streetcars in Cyberspace." It's a guide to finding historic transit information and photos online. It's at 7 pm at University Center of Chicago, 525 South State, free and open to anyone. More info here.


April 26 Transit Riders' Alliance meeting features Steve Schlickman, Executive Director of the RTA. RSVP here.

DaleAvella Apr 26, 2008 2:05 PM

In Chicago, I'm not sure if inflexibility of a light rail system is much of a concern. Western, Ashland, Roosevelt, North, etc. have been major bus routes for decades and will be for decades to come. I think the goal is to make it more rapid, which light rail would do better than a bus lane. I say send light rail down the middle, between the lanes, and I don't really see any problems it would cause. Other than cutting down Daley's beautiful trees.

Mr Downtown Apr 26, 2008 5:28 PM

The flexibility of buses is not in the line-haul sections, it's at the ends of the route, where boardings at any given stop are lower. Buses can circulate to various origins and destinations that are not along the guideway, minimizing walking distance for patrons.

You're talking about taking away traffic lanes to put light rail down the center of Western or Ashland, and about forbidding left turns and crossings anywhere other than signalized intersections. You're talking about having passengers wait on narrow safety islands next to the SUVs and semis, splashed with slush and salt spray. You're talking about incredibly expensive tracks, signals, overhead, and traffic signal interconnect systems. You're talking about vehicles that cost eight times as much--but only last twice as long.

What exactly is the advantage of light rail over dedicated bus lanes on a street such as Roosevelt? How would it be any more rapid if the vehicles have the same fare collection, same number of stops, same right-of-way?

UChicagoDomer Apr 26, 2008 9:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3512413)
The flexibility of buses is not in the line-haul sections, it's at the ends of the route, where boardings at any given stop are lower. Buses can circulate to various origins and destinations that are not along the guideway, minimizing walking distance for patrons.

You're talking about taking away traffic lanes to put light rail down the center of Western or Ashland, and about forbidding left turns and crossings anywhere other than signalized intersections. You're talking about having passengers wait on narrow safety islands next to the SUVs and semis, splashed with slush and salt spray. You're talking about incredibly expensive tracks, signals, overhead, and traffic signal interconnect systems. You're talking about vehicles that cost eight times as much--but only last twice as long.

What exactly is the advantage of light rail over dedicated bus lanes on a street such as Roosevelt? How would it be any more rapid if the vehicles have the same fare collection, same number of stops, same right-of-way?

I apologize if I sound like a smart-ass, and at the risk of sounding uninformed, but is the city/CTA/any suburb currently considering either these options (and my sympathies would, I guess, tend to lie with BRT, assuming it can be done elegantly with platforms and protection from the weather, and efficiently, with signal priority, lane dedication, and pre-boarding fare collection)?

Mr Downtown Apr 26, 2008 9:45 PM

I was pleased and a little surprised to hear RTA Executive Director Steve Schlickman say this morning that Chicago is way behind other cities in implementing bus solutions, so it seems like there's some interest from RTA leadership. FTA is also keen on BRT at the moment.

I would say there's a 50 percent chance we will see BRT in the Carroll Street corridor in the next decade. The mayor and CDOT are keen on it, serious engineering work has been done, Trump left space for a station, etc.

For crosstown corridors, I think there's a 70 percent chance CTA will try a few lines (X49, X80, X55) with LA style Metro Rapid bus service: widely spaced stops and signal priority but limited areas with dedicated lanes.

As for light rail or Ottawa-style busway, I think the chances are much smaller. Busway would make a lot of sense for the Mid-City corridor, but I don't think it will happen in the next decade.

VivaLFuego Apr 27, 2008 4:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3512807)
I was pleased and a little surprised to hear RTA Executive Director Steve Schlickman say this morning that Chicago is way behind other cities in implementing bus solutions, so it seems like there's some interest from RTA leadership. FTA is also keen on BRT at the moment.

I would say there's a 50 percent chance we will see BRT in the Carroll Street corridor in the next decade. The mayor and CDOT are keen on it, serious engineering work has been done, Trump left space for a station, etc.

For crosstown corridors, I think there's a 70 percent chance CTA will try a few lines (X49, X80, X55) with LA style Metro Rapid bus service: widely spaced stops and signal priority but limited areas with dedicated lanes.

As for light rail or Ottawa-style busway, I think the chances are much smaller. Busway would make a lot of sense for the Mid-City corridor, but I don't think it will happen in the next decade.

I think your take is right, there is no interest from anyone in the region for light rail, for the myriad of reasons already discussed. For a city that's so well-suited for bus travel, we indeed are behind where we should be on bus service, but its complicated by the general paradigm for bus service here being different than most other cities (anecdotal, but at one point the Feds were on the city/RTA's case for not having any HOV and express bus lanes on highways, seemingly unaware that such things would cannibalize existing rail transit services with few exceptions like NW tollway and I-55).

Best case, BRT becomes a guiding principle for all future streetscaping projects, and through a variety of other piecemeal components (e.g. signal interconnecting, next bus arrival displays) and new bus-friendly streetscapes, over the next 10-20 years Chicago develops a full grid of rapid buses.

ardecila Apr 27, 2008 6:18 AM

I just returned from New Orleans, where I rode the streetcars. After all this light-rail/streetcar/BRT discussion, I realized that the thing I hated the most by far about the CTA's bus system was the buses themselves.

I'm fine with the concept of a bus - vehicles operating in mixed road traffic - but I don't like the noxious fumes generated, or lack of operable windows/uncomfortably-cold A/C. The streetcars in NO, although they were slower than buses, somehow seem a lot more humane and pleasant. Are battery-powered buses feasible? Do hybrid buses produce less emissions? Beyond that, I would experiment with smaller, operable windows. (Ludacris' character in "Crash" made an interesting observation about the fish-bowl quality of bus windows).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3512807)
For crosstown corridors, I think there's a 70 percent chance CTA will try a few lines (X49, X80, X55) with LA style Metro Rapid bus service: widely spaced stops and signal priority but limited areas with dedicated lanes.

Adding X9 (Ashland) to this list would provide a kind of replacement for the Circle Line, and X3 (King) would act in lieu of Metra adding local stops on the Metra Electric.

Is there any progress towards installing BRT lanes on LSD?

the urban politician Apr 27, 2008 4:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3512807)
I would say there's a 50 percent chance we will see BRT in the Carroll Street corridor in the next decade. The mayor and CDOT are keen on it, serious engineering work has been done, Trump left space for a station, etc.

For crosstown corridors, I think there's a 70 percent chance CTA will try a few lines (X49, X80, X55) with LA style Metro Rapid bus service: widely spaced stops and signal priority but limited areas with dedicated lanes.

^ God I hope you're right. I'm currently addicted to a car-lite lifestyle, and I hope to carry that on if/when I'm eventually in Chicago.

Not that the above lines are necessary by any means, but if the city can take bigger strides to make transit more efficient and competitive with the car, it will significantly improve the quality of life (in my humble opinion).

nomarandlee Apr 27, 2008 5:24 PM

CNR and the EJ&E tracks
 
More on CNR and the EJ&J tracks and the NIMBY fights. I really hope a settlement can be reached. If we are lucky it will throw a hammer down on the STAR as well.

Does anyone (Mr.D or Viva) have any idea how much these grade crossings that these communities want on average cost?
Quote:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/9...rail27.article

Who'll get all the trains?
CANADIAN NATIONAL | Railway's plan to bypass Chicago riles suburbs along the new route

April 27, 2008Recommend (2)

BY GUY TRIDGELL SouthtownStar
The proposal seems simple enough.

For $300 million, the Canadian National Railway asks to buy the EJ&E railroad tracks encircling the Chicago area -- moving traffic around instead of through the city.

The little-used EJ&E tracks, cutting through smaller suburbs on the outskirts of the region, get pressed into service.

The chronic train congestion plaguing Chicago and its interior suburbs is reduced.

Everyone's happy.

But in real life, the issue is much more complicated than that.................

ardecila Apr 27, 2008 5:49 PM

I initially was in favor of the CN purchase (even though I live in Barrington), but I started reading the documents prepared by our local protesting organization - which raised a really good point.

CN currently operates many trains through Chicagoland every day on already-congested tracks. The CREATE program, which CN is supposed to contribute millions to, will ease the congestion on those lines. The reason CN is pursuing the EJ&E purchase is so that their trains can avoid those congested lines altogether, and CN can back out of its financial commitment to CREATE. This will only make it more difficult for CREATE to move forward.

Most communities already have grade crossings on the EJ&E, and they want CN to build under/overpasses (except Barrington, which is demanding a ridiculously-expensive trench for the railroad). CN is fine with these along their line, so long as they don't have to pay for them. The railroad has committed $40 million to improvements over the entire line. However, one 4-lane overpass costs about $20 million, so $40 million would build only 2 overpasses, and there are probably 20 to 30 major crossings that need to be replaced. To make matters worse, some of the crossings are in areas where overpasses are not appropriate, so underpasses must be built, and they cost twice as much.

VivaLFuego Apr 28, 2008 1:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 3514012)
More on CNR and the EJ&J tracks and the NIMBY fights. I really hope a settlement can be reached. If we are lucky it will throw a hammer down on the STAR as well.

Does anyone (Mr.D or Viva) have any idea how much these grade crossings that these communities want on average cost?

It's tough to give an "average cost" for a grade separation, but doing the number those communities want would cost far more than CN is paying for the whole ROW. Costs would largely depend on if the railroad is active while construction is ongoing, and how accomodating the state and municipalities would be with road closures. Doing a whole bunch at once would acheive minor economies of scale for materials and some of the design work, assuming the municipalities were cooperative, which they probably wouldn't be.

I feel like buying next to a railroad track is like buying next to an airport, don't bitch and moan if its being used for its purpose. Unless EJE made some commitment to these municipalities that the ROW would not be re-used for freight trains, they should really STFU and start planning their grade separation projects.

VivaLFuego Apr 28, 2008 1:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3514040)
CN currently operates many trains through Chicagoland every day on already-congested tracks. The CREATE program, which CN is supposed to contribute millions to, will ease the congestion on those lines. The reason CN is pursuing the EJ&E purchase is so that their trains can avoid those congested lines altogether, and CN can back out of its financial commitment to CREATE. This will only make it more difficult for CREATE to move forward.

I'm perplexed why a privately-funded solution to regional congestion is inherently inferior to CREATE... I mean I'd like to see CREATE happen too, but it's not like CN is just "passing the buck," they're trying to solve the problem from their end within their power and means.

jjk1103 Apr 28, 2008 2:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaleAvella (Post 3512118)
In Chicago, I'm not sure if inflexibility of a light rail system is much of a concern. Western, Ashland, Roosevelt, North, etc. have been major bus routes for decades and will be for decades to come. I think the goal is to make it more rapid, which light rail would do better than a bus lane. I say send light rail down the middle, between the lanes, and I don't really see any problems it would cause. Other than cutting down Daley's beautiful trees.

....woodsman, spare that tree !!!!!!! :D

emathias Apr 28, 2008 3:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3512807)
...
I would say there's a 50 percent chance we will see BRT in the Carroll Street corridor in the next decade. The mayor and CDOT are keen on it, serious engineering work has been done, Trump left space for a station, etc
...

Considering how long they've talked about downtown circulation needs, and how obvious, quick and relatively cheap this solution is, I really, really hope that the chance of Carroll being implemented is 100% once the Trump and 300 N Lasalle and 353 N Clark are completed. In other words, I'd like to think it would at least start being set up to run before 2010. The need will only be bigger once 300 N LaSalle and 353 N Clark are full of offices space partly filled by Metra riders.

ardecila Apr 28, 2008 5:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3514796)
I'm perplexed why a privately-funded solution to regional congestion is inherently inferior to CREATE... I mean I'd like to see CREATE happen too, but it's not like CN is just "passing the buck," they're trying to solve the problem from their end within their power and means.

CREATE presents CN with a way to reduce congestion and delays on what is referred to as the "Beltway Corridor".

http://www.createprogram.org/images/map.jpg

This line has far more grade separations than the EJ&E, and it is double-tracked. Communities along this line are accustomed to and designed around heavy traffic on this line. Reducing congestion on it would allow CN to increase operations and reduce delays through Chicago, with the least impact on Chicagoland's overall congestion and quality of life.

CN's purchase of EJ&E means that they no longer have a stake in the improvement and upgrade of the Beltway Corridor, putting more of the onus onto the other railroads that use it. With less interested parties, the upgrades begin to seem too ambitious and so they don't get built, while the railroads that still use the Beltway Corridor still suffer from the problems along the line.

As far as I can see, the only real benefit to Chicagoland of the EJ&E purchase is that the St. Charles Air Line could possibly be abandoned, reducing noise and air pollution in the South Loop and along the south lakefront. One other upside is that it makes the STAR Line even more difficult to build, forcing Metra to concentrate on other, more worthwhile expansion projects.

nomarandlee Apr 28, 2008 5:24 AM

A footnote in the Riverwalk article..

Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...4558993.column

Easing a rail bottleneck
Groundbreaking is set for Monday on a $4.2 million project to help reduce congestion involving freight trains, Metra commuter trains and Amtrak trains operating along the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad corridor in Summit, Bridgeview and Bedford Park.

The train signal system will be upgraded along the corridor, allowing more trains to pass through the area. The work represents a small piece of a $1.5 billion program aimed at modernizing the antiquated freight rail network in the Chicago region.

..

VivaLFuego Apr 29, 2008 4:27 PM

Aaaaaaaaand, speaking of BRT...... ;) :D

http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot6008.htm
Quote:

Originally Posted by DOT
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Selects Chicago to Receive More Than $153 million in Federal Funding to Reduce Traffic Congestion

CHICAGO – Chicago has been selected to receive more than $153 million in federal funds under a new congestion initiative, announced U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters. The innovative proposal will reduce traffic gridlock through the use of congestion pricing for street parking spaces and faster, more reliable bus service.
...
Peters explained the federal funds will be used to support Chicago’s creation of four pilot routes of a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network. The new BRT routes will have their own dedicated lanes and the buses will be equipped with technology to help speed them through traffic with priority right of way at busy signalized intersections. In addition, the CTA will be able to purchase new and cleaner hybrid engine vehicles, she said.

This is not a parody, nor is it April Fool's. A big THANK YOU is warranted for Sheldon Silver and the State of New York.

More details from the Trib article:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel...0,543062.story
Quote:

In addition to the bus-only lanes, buses will make fewer stops—four to five blocks apart. Kiosks will be installed at the bus stops to enable passengers to prepay their fares and board quickly once the bus arrives.
...
Fees for the downtown loading zone similarly have not yet been determined, but the goal is to discourage delivery trucks from making repeated trips to the same building each day, Daley said.

The mayor said the meter parking program and the express buses will complement each other, adding that he hopes Chicago eventually will have 100 miles of bus express lanes.

Peters said Los Angeles currently is testing express-lane buses, but Chicago will be the first major city to deploy such routes on a large scale.

OhioGuy Apr 29, 2008 5:15 PM

:previous: I just saw this on the noon news. I wonder what routes they're going to pick for the four pilot routes of a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network?

Quote:

In addition to the bus-only lanes, buses will make fewer stops—four to five blocks apart. Kiosks will be installed at the bus stops to enable passengers to prepay their fares and board quickly once the bus arrives.
I like that they'll be spreading out the stops to 4-5 blocks. The 2-3 block spacing on most bus routes is f*cking annoying.

Is the ticketing system more of an 'honor' type system? It doesn't seem as though there is anything preventing someone from hoping on the bus at one of the stops without paying at the kiosk, unless you continue to have just one person getting on the bus at a single time so that the driver can verify payment (which in turn would mean continued slowness). I guess you could sporadically ask to see tickets from riders to verify they've paid, but the bus driver wouldn't be able to do that since he/she'd be too busy driving. Which would mean the need for an additional CTA employee riding the bus to look at people's tickets (and hence more employment costs).

Abner Apr 29, 2008 5:41 PM

From the Tribune article: "To free buses from traffic congestion, dedicated bus-only lanes will be created on four major city corridors that were not immediately identified. One could be Lake Shore Drive."

Would they really start a program like this with bus lanes on Lake Shore Drive?

The article also mentions that some of the money will be used for new hybrid buses. I certainly hope that new buses will allow the CTA to retire some of the ancient buses with fake wood paneling. I wouldn't blame anybody for not wanting to ride one of those dinosaurs.

MayorOfChicago Apr 29, 2008 6:22 PM

Thank god they're moving the bus stops further apart. This has been REALLY annoying on a few routes I take, where certain stops are literally at each end of just ONE block.

I'm glad they're doing this, although it was rather sad to see how many people were commenting on the story on the Tribune website. Most of them thought this was a stupid idea, and that it's just going to add more traffic for all the cars driving, and will slow people down. Some even said we might as well get rid of buses because they just add to all the congestion on the streets. Many of them were suburban, and said it took way too long to take a bus to an orange line stop, then take that all the way downtown, then have to get to their destination. HELLO!? OH WELL! You live in the suburb, do you want to just say "screw you" to the 3 million people in the city so you can get downtown faster in your stupid car?

What streets do you think are canidates?

Lakeshore Drive (that'd be awesome)
Ashland
Western
Michigan Ave

?

Irving Park? Not sure if enough people use that bus though...

Mr Roboto Apr 29, 2008 6:51 PM

They need it on east - west streets on the north side, I think Irving park for sure. The problem is so many of those streets are already pretty narrow, like Diversey and Belmont.

schwerve Apr 29, 2008 7:36 PM

for whatever its worth, here's my BRT network:

Line 1) Orange Line-UIC-Clinton-Carroll-Michigan-Clark-Fullerton-Red/Brown Line/Depaul

Line 2) Chicago Ave-Milwaukee/Blue Line-Clinton-Monroe-Grant Park-South Lake Shore Drive

Line 3) Ogden/Pink Line-Damen-United Center-Monroe-Clinton-Carroll-Navy Pier

Line 3 is the traditional Transitway we've seen, 2 & 3 are designed to directly connect potential olympic locations (village, lincoln park, washington park) into the city. Each ties directly into the CTA at multiple locations and especially so if we build the WLTC and the Clinton Subway

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2287/...ecdafa71a5.jpg

emathias Apr 29, 2008 7:47 PM

I don't know which places they'll create bus lanes, but I kind hope they don't start with Lake Shore Drive. I'm not sure how they'd do that anyway, and it's really only at the very peak of rush hour that LSD is constrained for the express buses. If you made the right lane bus-only, you'd run into issues with people exiting, if you made it the left lane, buses would have to cross all the lanes joining and exiting, so I don't see the value so much.

I think Michigan Avenue would be great candidate for bus-only lanes, but I really wonder how bus-only lanes deal with right-turning vehicles. There are frequent cases of the right lane being blocked by right-turning vehicles, and at rush hour the right lane becomes a de-factor bus-only lane anyway because there's no room for cars.

It's still not clear to me how things like bus-only lanes help congestion in areas that are already extremely congested. Streeterville/Mag Mile really do cry out for some sort of completely separated pathway, whether it be a subway or an underground busway (a la Seattle).

As far as a combination of street layout possibilities and ridership goes, I think Western, 79th, Sheridan, Chicago Ave, King Drive, Cottage Grove, Ashland, Pulaski and Carroll Street (a man can hope, right?) would all make fine candidates. Personally I'd be disappointed in selecting LSD because most of the time it really doesn't need the help. If the city wanted to do something slick with LSD and buses, I think the most bang for the buck would be to put stoplights on the entrance ramps and put a bus-only lane leading onto the onramp and onto the Drive. That would help buses get onto the Drive as well as help prevent the Drive from being overwhelmed with cars at any given point (if done strictly) which would both help buses and cars (once they got on the drive, anyway).

ardecila Apr 29, 2008 8:29 PM

Finally, Chicago gets back to planning transportation improvements. Getting the funding isn't even a problem for this, since it's considered "experimental" for the US and FDOT is funding it to test the viability - plus, we gain from New York's political gridlock, despite our own.

Of course, most of us already KNOW that it will work if done properly. I imagine the kiosks working like a ticket-vending machine - you insert the payment, and it spits out a ticket of some kind that can be quickly scanned when you enter the bus (probably a bar code system). Or perhaps RFID technology is cheap enough now that each ticket can contain a disposable wireless chip, like a Chicago Card Junior.

Western will probably be one of the 4 pilot lines. I think Cermak will also be one, since Pace has planned BRT improvements on suburban Cermak for a long time. Ogden is also a possibility. What I'd like, though, is for them to invest some of the money on downtown bus lanes/kiosks, but at the busiest stops only, not along any particular route.

Marcu Apr 29, 2008 9:05 PM

^ Sounds like a great plan on paper. Of course implementation will be key.

intrepidDesign Apr 29, 2008 10:48 PM

Any word on the express lines going from the airports to B37?


All times are GMT. The time now is 2:05 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.