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M II A II R II K Oct 2, 2010 7:21 PM

The Combined Cost of Housing & Transportation in the Chicago Metropolitan Region

Full PDF Report:


Until recently, most discussion of housing affordability has focused exclusively on home prices, leaving out the second largest expense for most households: the cost of transportation. The resulting lack of clear information about the full costs associated with housing location has motivated inefficient development and spurred the “drive ’til you qualify” movement of households away from the city center in search of lower cost housing. In the last several years, the dramatic increase in foreclosure rates, often concentrated in remote exurbs, and the equally dramatic spike in gasoline prices around the country have revealed the vulnerability of households that choose locations based on an incomplete and often misleading understanding of the true costs.

- For nearly ten years, the Center for Neighborhood Technology has worked to bring transparency to the cost of location through an Affordability Index that
gives both housing and transportation costs at a neighborhood level. Thanks to support from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, which
provided lead financial support for Driving: A Hard Bargain, CNT is able to offer a model for how H+T analysis can inform and guide regional planning. In
cooperation with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the Chicago region’s metropolitan planning organization, CNT has produced this
customized analysis incorporating detailed, local datasets provided by CMAP and recommendations for sustainable growth targeted to municipal, regional
and state entities.

- While the Chicago metropolitan area is known as a relatively affordable place to live, with a reasonably priced housing market and the second largest public transportation system in the U.S., the region has not been spared the recent turmoil in energy and real estate markets and has struggled to meet demand for affordable housing and transportation. Faced with rising gasoline prices, over 70,000 new foreclosures in 2009 and congestion costs estimated by the Metropolitan Planning Council of approximately $7.3 billion per year, Chicago must plan for a future in which needs for low- and moderate-income housing are met, and families have access both to varied transportation options and clear information about their costs. An expected 27% increase in the region’s population, from 8.6 to 10.9 million residents between 2010
and 2040, and the considerable and increasingly well-recognized cost of carbon pollution mean that the decisions made today about housing location and transportation development are all the more important.

- This analysis of Housing and Transportation (H+T) costs in the Chicago region represents a major step toward sustainable development by revealing the true costs of living in the region and providing a comprehensive tool for understanding how burdens placed on families, public agencies and the environment can be minimized. The analysis will directly impact Chicago’s future development as a decision-making tool employed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) for its Go to 2040 plan and policies. The information presented in this report will also allow households to make more informed choices about where to locate and will enable communities to recognize development opportunities that provide truly affordable and sustainable housing and transportation options.

nomarandlee Oct 4, 2010 8:18 PM


Union Station upgrade: Air-conditioning, more restrooms
October 4, 2010 12:05 PM | No Comments

The elegant but often-sweaty Great Hall of Chicago Union Station will be air-conditioned by next summer,and other improvements including more restrooms at track level are being added as part of a $40 million rehabilitation project announced today.

The new passenger-friendly amenities are intended to update the 85-year-old historic station at a time that Amtrak ridership has grown more than 40 percent in the last 12 years, officials said.

"This project is going to be part of the revival of passenger rail," said Tom Carper, chairman of the Amtrak board. Seating in Amtrak's boarding lounges at Union Station will be expanded to 950 seats, which is almost double the existing capacity, officials said.

The work, scheduled for completion in late 2012, will be followed by redevelopment of Union Station's headhouse building to include retail businesses..........

-- Jon Hilkevitch
More in link

nomarandlee Oct 4, 2010 8:25 PM


Daley says Chicago is ready for a super-fast train

Jon Hilkevitch
11:28 p.m. CDT, October 3, 2010

........But Daley said investors in China, South Korea, Japan and the Middle East are interested in designing, building and operating such a bullet train for Chicago.

........But Rodriguez said the CTA will explore other technologies beyond the heavy rail system that the authority has operated since its inception. One idea that interests him is a high-tech crosstown rail line running north-to-south across the entire city, perhaps on Cicero or Western avenues, above the traffic.

"Why not look at a monorail or some other system that would basically avoid the congestion on the streets?" Rodriguez said. "That is one of the things I would like to pursue to get north to south connected."

There's another consideration for Chicago when looking at the Chinese model. For the high price to build and maintain the Shanghai maglev, passengers are taken only part of the way to their destinations.

Because so much distance is required to accelerate and brake, the maglev train doesn't serve downtown Shanghai. It runs from the airport to the terminus of one of Shanghai's conventional subway lines on the edge of the city, where passengers must transfer to a slower train, or a taxicab, to reach downtown.

The distance between downtown Chicago and O'Hare is only about 15 miles. Such a short distance makes it difficult to justify the cost of the maglev system and its limitations in providing direct service..........
More in link

Busy Bee Oct 4, 2010 9:28 PM

A monorail? Is he joking? How about conventional heavy rail, like you know, the kind you already operate and have tons of experience with. Just put it up on a modern concrete elevated structure or sink it in a trench. It worries me we have officials actually using the word monorail when talking about transit aspirations. This isn't 1970. Conventional heavy rail is proven for high ridership rapid service. Monorail is not. The monorail would be a silly solution, not to mention a technological boondoggle. Yeah, give us the Mid-city transitway, just give it to us in the form of conventional CTA heavy rail or Paris RER style EMU's. Steer clear of the monorail route, its pure Futurama fantasy for a reason.

the urban politician Oct 5, 2010 12:27 AM

^ That's what happens when you replace the CTA chairperson every 2 years.

ardecila Oct 5, 2010 1:53 AM

Well, I could see a Vancouver-style light metro along Cicero, if it somehow posed a substantial cost savings over traditional heavy-rail.

People like to think of monorails as futuristic, but they haven't really been futuristic for 40 years. We've already been there, done that, and discovered that monorail technology has numerous drawbacks and practical problems. Tokyo is really the only place where they've made monorails work as a serious transport mode...

wrab Oct 5, 2010 2:55 AM

Rodriguez talking monorails has me questioning his competence to run the CTA. Maybe he meant elevated?

emathias Oct 6, 2010 3:44 AM

Monorails would be ok IF there was no rational way to need to route from the monorail routing to the existing rail routes.

In other words, if running a line over Cicero would never need to also turn east onto the Green or Blue lines, then a monorail is a big impovement over a bus route, and if it doesn't need to merge with existing rail, then what's the problem?

ardecila Oct 6, 2010 4:06 AM

Well, monorail technology is still very proprietary - every company produces a different, very specialized system. There aren't any standards or regulations, so CTA would essentially be tied to a single manufacturer forever, when track needs replacing, vehicles need replacing or major maintenance, etc.

For practical everyday purposes, CTA would need to train a whole crew in the maintenance and repair of monorail systems. This increases CTA's payroll, which adds quite a bit to the operating budget. A new heavy-rail line could just use the existing crews to perform maintenance and repair jobs.

It also gets quite complex and costly if you ever want a network instead of just a single line - switches on a monorail system are massive things that require a lot of complex machinery. Imagine sliding a huge concrete beam 9-10 feet to the left and sliding in another beam. A traditional rail system just uses frogs, little metal pieces that can be moved fairly easily with small motors.

Even light rail would be a better choice than monorail - light-rail systems are fairly common around the world, so there are standard construction practices, plenty of trained technicians available, and plenty of manufacturers to work with.

Really, the only advantage of a monorail system is aesthetics (due to a narrower guideway), noise (rubber wheels on concrete are quiet), and a slightly lower construction cost, because of simpler construction. In the long run, I doubt the advantages amount to anything, which is why monorail systems haven't taken over the world.

Most of those advantages would be a moot point along the Cicero corridor. Cost reduction measures would probably force the transit line onto the BRC viaduct two blocks east, where the narrower guideway of a monorail would confer no aesthetic advantage. Tracks on an earthen viaduct that are properly fastened to the track bed don't generate much noise, either, especially on straight segments - look at the Orange Line at Western or Kedzie. The construction cost would be reduced anyway, since the land acquisition costs would be small and there wouldn't be the nightmare of drilling piles down the center of Cicero.

Remy_Bork Oct 6, 2010 5:48 AM

I have to say that excites me a lot as a transit enthusiast, despite the silliness of the monorail suggestion.

I assume that they talk about the rail corridor east of Cicero whenever they mention that mid-city line. The city is covered with rail rights-of-way that could potentially be used as new lines if there was ever some decent money for them.

I especially think about that Bloomingdale line that runs through Humboldt Park being converted into a CTA branch. The park idea is kind of nice but seems like a waste when the valuable right of way could be put to transit use.

Does anybody have or know of any other reuse ideas similar to that one?

the urban politician Oct 6, 2010 2:46 PM

I still think the best place for a circumferential, mid-city line is along Ashland.

The Ashland corrider, for the most part, is pretty well built up, has seen a lot of new development, and seems to have the density to support it.

Western, on the other hand, is a lost cause IMO. It has already succumbed to the needs of the automobile and I suspect it would be far too difficult to turn things around. How are you going to redevelop all of those strip malls and auto dealerships into denser, pedestrian-oriented businesses? Not gonna happen.

And don't tell me that introducing a mass transit line will change that. I have yet to see any evidence that the Orange Line led to denser, transit-oriented development with the exception of a stop or two closer to downtown (and one can argue that those developments would have happened any way).

M II A II R II K Oct 6, 2010 4:17 PM

Chicago Red Line Extension Moves Forward as Some Push Cheaper Alternative


Last week, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced that it had received $285,000 in planning money from the federal government to pursue a draft environmental impact study on the extension of the Red Line rapid transit corridor south to 130th Street. The agency says that this project, which will bring rail transit service to the city’s southeastern border, is its top priority.

Inhabitants of the city’s far South Side have for years complained that they are left out of the rapid transit system, which was extended along the Dan Ryan Expressway to 95th Street in 1969. Their community is the city’s poorest but residents suffer from long travel times to reach the Loop downtown. Decades of plans have suggested lengthening the route further south, but to no avail; in recent years, the CTA has primarily focused its capital funds on the renovation of the older parts of its network.

spyguy Oct 6, 2010 11:59 PM

More laughs from the CTA

'L' station to take Harold Washington's name
Jon Hilkevitch October 6, 2010 11:22 AM

...The CTA board voted Wednesday to change the name of the Library-State/Van Buren rail station to the Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren station.

...That it took this long for the CTA to adopt the change "is a form of racism," Blakemore said. "They are trying to deny a group of people their legacy."

Segun Oct 7, 2010 3:37 PM

Its already the longest CTA announcement by far so now its:

the next stop is Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren

doors open to the left at Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren

this is Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren

transfer to Red Line trains at Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren

Doors closing.

I think by that time the train has left.

the urban politician Oct 7, 2010 3:47 PM


Originally Posted by spyguy (Post 5007010)
That it took this long for the CTA to adopt the change "is a form of racism," Blakemore said. "They are trying to deny a group of people their legacy."



Nowhereman1280 Oct 7, 2010 4:22 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5007706)


People as stupid as this Blakemoore person are why racism exists. If everyone were just a little less moronic then we wouldn't have these problems...

Chicago Shawn Oct 7, 2010 9:43 PM


...That it took this long for the CTA to adopt the change "is a form of racism," Blakemore said. "They are trying to deny a group of people their legacy."
Or how about the fact it costs $19,000 to replace the signs, that doesn't have anything to do with it? Nope of course not, its just racism. Just like how your eligible for free rides on that same system, yup so much discrimination.

What a F****** retard. And how much money are you donating to this cause Mr. Blakemore? I know I'll be paying for it with reduced service if the operating budget needs additional trimming next year.

ardecila Oct 8, 2010 12:07 AM

I'm equally upset with the CTA for stubbornly NOT optimizing the station name. "Washington Library" would have done the trick. They could drop the "Harold" part and drop the "State/Van Buren" part.

DC seems to get along perfectly well naming their downtown stations after landmarks instead of streets and intersections. Even in Chicago, we have "Merchandise Mart". We don't call it "Kinzie/Wells".

ChicagoChicago Oct 8, 2010 4:28 AM


Originally Posted by spyguy (Post 5007010)
...The CTA board voted Wednesday to change the name of the Library-State/Van Buren rail station to the Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren station.

Jesus Christ...Could they have made the name longer?

OhioGuy Oct 8, 2010 1:28 PM

They should have just gotten rid of the library portion and simply called it State/Van Buren. I don't want to see the el turn into something similar to the DC Metro with its ridiculously long station names.

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