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VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 7:56 PM

Can't build much (any) new elevated structure through a built-up area because it would fail the environmental impact study. hence all elevated options were thrown out. the western option was thrown out because it was incredibly more expensive than the ashland corridor with only moderately higher projected ridership.

best case, there would be a loop at around halsted/Clinton, to improve transit and density in the central area, then a more "outer" loop at about western for the reasons described above (then a pipe dream loop out by cicero to complete the network). but realistically, these options aren't likely, so i'll take a single loop at Ashland over nothing at all.

honte Oct 4, 2006 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Can't build much (any) new elevated structure through a built-up area because it would fail the environmental impact study. hence all elevated options were thrown out. the western option was thrown out because it was incredibly more expensive than the ashland corridor with only moderately higher projected ridership.

best case, there would be a loop at around halsted/Clinton, to improve transit and density in the central area, then a more "outer" loop at about western for the reasons described above (then a pipe dream loop out by cicero to complete the network). but realistically, these options aren't likely, so i'll take a single loop at Ashland over nothing at all.

I think Norsider is right... the projections must not have been that sophisticated. Because there just isn't much difference / benefit to taking a train at Ashland vs. just going into the Loop and grabbing the train you really need, especially when you're waiting for two trains instead of one. I imagine many would use the thing if it were further west and eliminated that much more of the voyage in. It seems like common sense.

MayorOfChicago Oct 5, 2006 12:00 AM

Ok, so yeah, the nice station in the loop would be nice with actual ESCALATORS for your luggage and nice platforms, and yes the trains where you can relax and stretch out without people coming in and off and clogging up the train would be nice for a tourist. Living here I kinda like the crowds and "urban" as cliche as that word is, feel to it all. I know a lot of visitors HATE the train because they simply aren't that type of person.

But again, how sad we're spending 5.3 BILLION to re-do the tollway system, and the state coughs up a fucking lung when they have to give the CTA 80 million to bail them out last year.

so...can I please just ask...

how much news did the CTA bailout get? How much news is the billion dollar circle line getting? How much grief and uncertainty? How much boasting and screaming will get done if they actually build this?

now...how much news and yelling did the tollway rebuild get?

How can people screaming and cry and bitch when we spend what is 1.5% of what we're doing to our tollways to bail out the CTA with it's 550,000 trips per day? The tollway spending was answered with a "well it's about damn time, what took you so long to figure this out???".

The CTA asks for money and GOD FORBID!!! an expansion and it's like we're all demons.

GRRRRRR....

Marcu Oct 5, 2006 7:41 AM

Quote:

now...how much news and yelling did the tollway rebuild get?
Wait isn't the tollway supposed to be self-sufficient? I thought the money was supposed to be paid back entierly over time through the collection of tolls.

VivaLFuego Oct 5, 2006 2:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu
Wait isn't the tollway supposed to be self-sufficient? I thought the money was supposed to be paid back entierly over time through the collection of tolls.

I think this is correct; it's being paid for with state-backed bonds that would be repaid with toll revenue over the life of the asset.

My gripe is basically that people's lifestyle choices dictate that they're happy to pay for road widening but never for transit expansions.

Transit prices could of course be higher with the idea of accomplishing something similar, but transit is also a public service and so needs to be available to everyone (unlike, say, a tollroad through DuPage county)

the urban politician Oct 6, 2006 3:46 AM

This was never posted, so hear goes (from today's SunTimes):
CTA chairwoman slams talk of upscale service to airports

October 5, 2006
BY MONIFA THOMAS Transportation Reporter
CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown put the brakes on talk that the CTA would move forward with premium rail service to the city's airports, saying there needs to be a solid plan for express service that would actually save travelers time.
A report from an independent consultant recommended the Chicago Transit Authority partner with a private investor to set up nonstop train service from the new CTA station at Block 37 to O'Hare and Midway airports. At an estimated $10 per ride, this premium service would offer wider seats and computer access.


Wouldn't reduce travel times
But without system enhancements that would allow airport-only trains to bypass regular Blue and Orange line trains, the nonstop service wouldn't reduce travel times, according to the report from PB Consult Inc.
Brown, in an upcoming post on her blog, said she doesn't see the point of this non-express premium service. "I have no intention of recommending that CTA buy expensive upscale railcars just to wait behind regular Blue and Orange Line trains," she writes. "I would support premium rail service only if it brought significant new operating dollars, capital funding or other efficiencies to the CTA."

CTA President Frank Kruesi has said the upscale airport service would be available by 2008, but the ultimate goal is to shave as much as 20 minutes off trips to O'Hare and 10 minutes off rides to Midway

MayorOfChicago Oct 6, 2006 4:46 PM

^ wow, someone at CTA actually said something intelligent!

Pandemonious Oct 6, 2006 4:57 PM

Sadly, it is common sense to most of us... on this forum anyway.. heh

Without the slash in travel time, what is the point? The "I have more space for my luggage now!" argument doesn't justify the cost whatsoever IMO. Plus, it would cost about 8$ more than riding the normal blue line for basically the EXACT same journey. Seriously.. what the hell is the point?

VivaLFuego Oct 6, 2006 5:42 PM

According to the now-public PB report, they recommend to allow flight check-in and baggage tagging at the downtown terminal, i.e. so you wouldnt have to wait in the long ticketing lines, rather just for the baggage screening line. but really, this can be done pretty quickly with e-ticketing systems these days. I dunno, I just really don't see a market for the service unless there is some reasonable time savings.

In other news, who else is pissed off about the Prairie Parkway? In the last bill, everyone went (justifiably) apeshit over the $300 million pork bridge to nowhere, but what about the $300 million highway to nowhere? This will parallel route 47 (i.e. duplicating a route that could otherwise be partially widened if necessary), connecting I-88 and I-80. All out in BUMBLEFUCK.

the urban politician Oct 6, 2006 6:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pandemonious
Sadly, it is common sense to most of us... on this forum anyway.. heh

Without the slash in travel time, what is the point? The "I have more space for my luggage now!" argument doesn't justify the cost whatsoever IMO. Plus, it would cost about 8$ more than riding the normal blue line for basically the EXACT same journey. Seriously.. what the hell is the point?

^ So the ability to check in your luggage (and perhaps get your boarding pass) downtown, then sit on your own spacious, comfortable chair in a train that hopefully would offer snacks and beverages, (okay, I'm throwing in my own ideas here, but I'm betting this would be part of the package) ie pop, beer, scotch (that's more like it) while watching TV on your trip to O'Hare doesn't sound like a good deal to you? Okay fine, we'll throw in some lavatories. How about that?

It's a rich man's service, and I think there are plenty of well-off people in this world who want to pamper themselves to justify its existence

trvlr70 Oct 6, 2006 7:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago
^ wow, someone at CTA actually said something intelligent!

I agree. You really can't argue with the logic.

VivaLFuego Oct 6, 2006 8:26 PM

If they can do something near-term to speed up the travel times, even if only a bit, it would help immensely. I think the most important infrastructure upgrades that could be done for a "reasonable" cost would be:

- New Midway Airport Express terminal, actually in the terminal building instead of way past the parking garage.

- Just the "cheap" passing tracks on the O'hare branch, to allow the express trains to overtake 1 local train in each direction. In non-rush hours, this would make the running time more like 35 minutes (only a little slower than taxi, and with the aforementioned amenities), and in rush hour, it would be like 40 minutes (comparable or slightly faster than taxi).

- The Midway passing tracks, cause an 18 minute trip would be awesome and I imagine these would be pretty cheap to add (CTA and the city could probably find room in the regular capital budget without even any huge grants).

The above, which would probably cost in the ballpark of $200 million (i.e. equivalent to less than onehighway to nowhere in the suburbs or a small portion of widening a single tollway), would be the quickest way to make the service more viable.

pip Oct 7, 2006 5:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
This was never posted, so hear goes (from today's SunTimes):
CTA chairwoman slams talk of upscale service to airports

October 5, 2006
BY MONIFA THOMAS Transportation Reporter
CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown put the brakes on talk that the CTA would move forward with premium rail service to the city's airports, saying there needs to be a solid plan for express service that would actually save travelers time.
A report from an independent consultant recommended the Chicago Transit Authority partner with a private investor to set up nonstop train service from the new CTA station at Block 37 to O'Hare and Midway airports. At an estimated $10 per ride, this premium service would offer wider seats and computer access.


Wouldn't reduce travel times
But without system enhancements that would allow airport-only trains to bypass regular Blue and Orange line trains, the nonstop service wouldn't reduce travel times, according to the report from PB Consult Inc.
Brown, in an upcoming post on her blog, said she doesn't see the point of this non-express premium service. "I have no intention of recommending that CTA buy expensive upscale railcars just to wait behind regular Blue and Orange Line trains," she writes. "I would support premium rail service only if it brought significant new operating dollars, capital funding or other efficiencies to the CTA."

CTA President Frank Kruesi has said the upscale airport service would be available by 2008, but the ultimate goal is to shave as much as 20 minutes off trips to O'Hare and 10 minutes off rides to Midway

The ultimate goal should be to shave 20 minutes off the travel time between one station and the next station.

nomarandlee Oct 8, 2006 5:52 AM

Tribune Ed. on O'Hare "express"....

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/o...inionfront-hed

A fast-track partnership?

Published October 7, 2006


At $2 a trip, riding the "L" to the airport is quite a bargain. It also can be quite an ordeal. Bumping your suitcase up (or down) the stairs to the platform, changing trains, suffering the annoyance of other passengers who have to squeeze around your luggage to get on and off at every stop. It beats a $40 cab fare. Maybe.

Would you pay up to $17 to ride a 25-minute express train from the Loop to O'Hare International Airport, with your suitcase safely stowed and your laptop humming? How about $10 for a train ride that cuts out most of the aggravation but doesn't save you any travel time?

A consultant hired by the Chicago Transit Authority has drawn up a business plan for a premium rail service between a Loop "super station" and Chicago's two airports. The trains would have comfy seating, luggage racks and outlets for electronic gadgets. Eventually, they could bypass the regular commuter trains by using new express tracks. In the beginning, though, they'd share the Orange and Blue Line tracks, which means it would be stop and go, stop and go, all the way.

The long-term vision would put Chicago in a league with Tokyo, London and other cities with world-class transit systems. But how do we get there from here? It would require an investment of up to $1.5 billion, and there's no guarantee the market will support it.

For the first phase of service to be profitable, at least 1.7 million riders a year would have to be willing to shell out the extra $8 by 2010, according to the consultant, PB Consult Inc. By 2030, at least 3 million riders would have to pay $9 to $17 for a one-way express ticket.

The business plan calls for a private company to manage the service and pay for initial improvements such as refurbishing rail cars; the CTA would maintain the tracks and equipment. Financing the long-term improvements is an open question.

A public/private partnership isn't a new idea--the city's lease of the Chicago Skyway and ongoing efforts to lease Midway Airport to a private entity are two examples of innovative approaches to management of public works. Private enterprises can wring operational efficiencies that government bureaucracies can't, especially if those bureaucracies are, like the CTA, hamstrung by union contracts.

The CTA is in no position to take on an ambitious and risky new project. It is barely surviving. It has a chronic operating deficit. It is plagued by slow train service. It has until 2009 to start pumping $200 million a year into its pension fund, which is in danger of running dry by 2012. It has no idea where that money will come from.

To her credit, CTA Chairman Carole Brown seems to be injecting some cold, sober analysis into the dream of a luxury airport express line. She says an airport express is worth exploring because it might help generate new operating or capital dollars--but she's not interested in pursuing the project unless it promises to do so. In particular, she won't support a plan to "buy expensive upscale rail cars just to wait behind Blue and Orange Line trains" without a viable plan to eventually provide true express service.

That doesn't have to mean improved airport transit is out of reach. Private enterprise could be just the ticket. But Brown is delivering the reality check the CTA needs.





Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Jaroslaw Oct 9, 2006 4:57 AM

Let's have the CTA talk about it all for a few more years, after all, that's their main job...

In HK the airport express costs $12.50 for an almost non-stop ride at 80 mph, 23 minutes to downtown. Almost a decade after it opened, ridership is still well below projections. A lot of people decide to take the bus, you can get a nice luxury bus--never seen this level of bus in the USA--for $4.00, and traffic jams are not an issue on the airport highway.

I'd say give it another ten years for traffic to become really unbearable, then things will move on the transit side.

VivaLFuego Oct 9, 2006 2:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jaroslaw

In HK the airport express costs $12.50 for an almost non-stop ride at 80 mph, 23 minutes to downtown. Almost a decade after it opened, ridership is still well below projections.

That doesn't bode well. Though ridership projections aren't as important as whether the thing is breaking even operationally. If the Chicago version requires a subsidy, I just hope it's coming from the city and not from the CTA's operating budget, as if theres any additional room there for screwups.

Rail Claimore Oct 10, 2006 7:31 AM

I love airport express trains. I whore them every time I'm in Japan, and they're absolutely essential.

VivaLFuego Oct 11, 2006 6:02 PM

^ I don't get why anyone would take the STAR line. I mean, all the jobs in that area have ample, free parking, so driving provides point-to-point, inexpensive transport. Rail works to downtown because 1) not point-to-point, you'll probably have to park a few blocks away and walk, and its expensive anyway (typically $15-35/day depending on your location in the central area). The STAR line would be have to be insanely cheap to lure anyone to use it for any trips, be they work, school, recreation, whatever.

Now, if they talk about STAR as simply another spoke, hooking up with the NCS in Rosement and providing commuter rail to the relatively dense I-90 corridor, thats another story that merits discussion.

brian_b Oct 11, 2006 6:38 PM

The star line would be well used if built as proposed. It is, however, pretty damn expensive.

jpIllInoIs Oct 11, 2006 8:28 PM

The STAR line has many benefits. One is that it allows working poor people access to several job intense suburbs. The other is that it allows cross connections between many Chicago bound train lines. But the biggest benefit in political terms has been that many of those cross connected suburbs will get direct train access to O'Hare. This has turned these suburbs into O'Hare expansion proponents, and thus muted the meager voices against O'Hare expansion.


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