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VivaLFuego Sep 27, 2006 5:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
They never explained why they narrowed it down to heavy rail and BRT? Why not light rail?

It seems odd to me, since logically light rail and heavy rail have more in common than heavy rail and BRT..

Anyway, I just don't think BRT will get the same ridership that a train would, even if it were on a designated ROW; plus it's so un-Chicago-like. Just my opinion, though..

I -think- its because using heavy rail would be able to leverage significant portion of already existing infrastructure, i.e. light rail wouldn't be worth the cost because of how much would need to be constructed from scratch. BRT is of course much cheaper all around, depending how far you go with the technology. the BRT routes proposed don't form a complete circle though, rather just an arc around downtown.

Mr Roboto Sep 27, 2006 5:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Cost projections are key here. I think the Ashland corridor is far more desireable than the Ashland/Ogden, as Ashland is pretty vibrant all the way from Grand, through Chicago, Division, up to North Avenue. Lots of retails, mid-density residential, and hits some key intersections like Ashland/Division/Milwaukee in Wicker Park. But it would cost more. I think that's what it will come down to.

Theres also an article from the tribune; http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Yes, I agree, the Ashland corridor looks way better to me, and will serve a greater population. I hope that they dont choose the Ogden one just to cut costs; if there would be greater development then I would understand. However, there is a sizeable population that could use the Ashland corridor Circle line system, like that woman in Ukanian village, who would be cut out of it. Also, the city, as a whole, would benefit from having a wider circle line.

I also dont understand why light rail was cut out and they are still considering BRT. I personally dont like BRT for Chicago, they should go with what is compatible with the existing el & metra lines.

Wright Concept Sep 27, 2006 5:18 PM

^ I think VivaLaFuego said it best. With LRT with an existing extensive HRT/3rd Rail network it would be more cost effective overall to go with HRT considering that part of the plan is to improve and refurbish the existing Infrastructre of the State Street Tunnel and Orange Line right-of-way. Also when building grade separated right-of-ways Light Rail and Heavy rail cost the same amount.

The big difference is with LRT they will need to figure out where to build the maintenance yard and shops. With the Circle Line they could get vehicles spread across a couple of sites and only upgrade maybe one or two of them with extra tracks to store the trains to operate the route.

the urban politician Sep 27, 2006 5:23 PM

^ For those of you who attended the meeting (if any), did they mention whether they were leaning in any direction (BRT vs. elevated rail)?

Another thought: is it possible to start out with BRT but eventually convert the ROW into an elevated train, perhaps as a multi-year "phase in" so to speak as more funding becomes available?

VivaLFuego Sep 27, 2006 7:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ For those of you who attended the meeting (if any), did they mention whether they were leaning in any direction (BRT vs. elevated rail)?

Another thought: is it possible to start out with BRT but eventually convert the ROW into an elevated train, perhaps as a multi-year "phase in" so to speak as more funding becomes available?

The way the federal grant process works, its basically a one-shot deal. In all likelihood, I suspect the "Locally Preferred Alternative" will be found to be one of the heavy rail options, with the decision basically coming down to one having higher ridership, the other having lower cost. The trick then is completing the environmental impact study to the satisfaction of the FTA. the FTA looks at cost/benefit when deciding whether to fund projects, and has no problem awarding TONS of money if the project warrants it.

Certainly, the BRT options proposed don't included grade-seperated rights of way, but rather bus-only lanes in streets, signal priority, etc, so "converting" to HRT would basically be the same as doing HRT from the onset.

Regarding which they are leaning towards, it is too early to say other than they have narrowed it down to those 4 options, which will be compared relatively amongst eachother to produce a final ranking for the next round of public comment coming around Spring/Summer '07

the urban politician Sep 30, 2006 10:36 PM

A call out to Mayor Daley in this week's Crains
 
Oct 02, 2006
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-b...ticle_id=26583
Mayor, take the wheel as CTA veers off course
Mayor Richard M. Daley has a crisis on his hands at the Chicago Transit Authority.
It's a crisis every bit as pressing as the one he faced a decade ago with the city's schools. If he doesn't move as decisively to address it, his legacy as the mayor who brought the middle class back to the city is in jeopardy.

Chicago's middle-class renaissance has come mainly in neighborhoods with access to Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train and bus lines. Residents of these neighborhoods depend on the CTA to get them to work every day.

But the CTA isn't doing its job. Last Thursday's meltdown on the Brown, Red and Purple lines, though larger in scale, was only the latest in a series of similar incidents. Elevated trains routinely stop for long, unexplained delays between stations. "Express" trains take 1½ hours to reach the Loop. Buses break down, bunch up, then disappear altogether.

No great city of Chicago's size can thrive for long with such a sub-par transit system. Efficient, reliable public transportation is the linchpin of urban living. Cities like New York and Washington, D.C., manage to provide it. If Chicago can't, we'll lose people and jobs to cities that can.

Money, of course, is needed to fix the CTA, which is a financial basketcase. But state legislators are understandably reluctant to give more cash to the current CTA administration, run by Frank Kruesi.
The agency's president spins out grandiose visions of a new Circle Line and below-grade busways but can't make the trains run on time. Meanwhile, he blows hundreds of millions on an ill-conceived "super station" at Block 37 and tries to sneak through secret pension sweeteners for himself and other top brass.

Clearly, this is not the crew to take the extraordinary action needed. An outsider with proven expertise in repairing broken transit systems must be brought in with authority to overhaul the CTA from top to bottom, both financially and operationally. Only Mayor Daley can make that happen.

Steely Dan Sep 30, 2006 10:38 PM

^ A-FUCKING-MEN!

the urban politician Sep 30, 2006 10:41 PM

^ About f-king time, isn't it? :yes:

Busy Bee Oct 1, 2006 12:30 AM

They need to bring in that Ken Livingstone guy(is that his name?) who is an the American that overhauled London Transport. He did and is doing a killer job of making what is now Transport for London one of the BEST systems in the world.

Rational Plan2 Oct 1, 2006 9:38 AM

Ken Livingstone is the Mayor of London. Bon Kiley is the former New York Transit official he hired to help transform 'Transport For London'. He is now no longer the boss of TFL, but is still kept on as an advisor basis. It is unlikely that he would be interested in taking on the Job as he is now 75 and wants to slow down a bit.

Busy Bee Oct 1, 2006 3:36 PM

That's right. I got me London public figures crossed.

urban_encounter Oct 1, 2006 5:47 PM

Daley says West Side rail line needed if city lands Olympics
Chicago Tribune
Published October 1, 2006



CHICAGO -- Mayor Richard Daley said Chicago has a lot at stake in landing the 2016 Olympic Games--namely transportation in underserved areas of the city.

The mayor said Saturday that both Atlanta and Salt Lake City received federal transportation funding, and that if the Olympics were to come to Chicago, he would push for a north-south rail route on the West Side to improve access to Olympic sites.

On a recent trip to Washington, Daley spoke with senators and congressmen from Illinois as well as officials from the White House about Chicago's bid to win the Olympics, along with its transportation needs.

"The Olympics is basically privately financed," Daley said. "What we look at the federal government [for] is what they did in Salt Lake City and Atlanta. They did public transportation and basic security."

Security in Chicago already has been ratcheted up since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, so the city would be free to funnel public funding toward transportation, he said.

The city's rail transportation is a spoke system with no way to move easily from north to south on the West Side.

"We have to move it west so people can come from the north and vice versa," he said. "That's one of the issues I talked about

Nowhereman1280 Oct 2, 2006 7:09 AM

That west side rail would be nice, it would also be nice if they got the whole circle line built too. They also need to make the stuff that already exists work flawlessly. So much to do! So much to do! Federal cash would be handy!

VivaLFuego Oct 2, 2006 2:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280
That west side rail would be nice, it would also be nice if they got the whole circle line built too. They also need to make the stuff that already exists work flawlessly. So much to do! So much to do! Federal cash would be handy!

There should be some local cash, too. After the derailment, CTA has been doign alot of work in re-calibrating its Track Maintenance processes, unfortauntely things got so bad for so long that it will take a while to fix. At this point, I would say it will be about (or, at least) a year before the bulk of permanent slow zones are mitigated throughout the system. Alot of people wax indignantly about not expanding CTA until the current system is perfect, but I think this is a very poor long-term strategy given how long these projects take from conception to operation.

the urban politician Oct 2, 2006 3:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Alot of people wax indignantly about not expanding CTA until the current system is perfect, but I think this is a very poor long-term strategy given how long these projects take from conception to operation.

^ I agree, esp since Capital and Operational budgets are exclusive.

One thing for sure we shouldn't count on is the Olympics to fix any of this, because they ain't coming. Time to get creative

Taft Oct 2, 2006 4:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ I agree, esp since Capital and Operational budgets are exclusive.

One thing for sure we shouldn't count on is the Olympics to fix any of this, because they ain't coming. Time to get creative

I'm thinking the mayor is waiting it out with the olympics to see if he can get a "coupon" for fixing the system for free. Given his track record for putting city money into the CTA pot, he is obviously loath to give the CTA any more than the required amount of tax revenue. With growing dissatisfaction with the service he needs to put forward a "plan"
to fix the system. Thus, the major runs around making statements connecting a Chicago Olympics with improved public transportation. Placate the people while doing nothing. Gotta hand it to him, he knows how to play the game.

Anyway, I'd expect a real (and quite belated) bailout plan to emerge if the Chicago Olympics go up in smoke.

We definitely need more city and state funds going towards the existing system. With some breathing room in their operating budget, the CTA could be made into a world class system. With the current bad blood between springfield and the CTA and the major's lack of dedication in terms of money, the CTA is starving to death.

I completely agree about big initiatives and the need to push them even no matter the operating situation. We just can't stagnate, especially given the rate of change in Chicago's neighborhoods.

Taft

the urban politician Oct 4, 2006 12:32 AM

^ Well, I'm guessing they still want the station to be able to accommodate express trains some time in the future.

What I don't understand is this--these are nonstop trains but they won't shave off any time for the trip to the airport? If that's the case, then why would I pay $10 for this trip instead of the usual $2 that a ride from the loop to OHare would normally cost? All just because I can ride a special train that has extra room for luggage?

Not getting the logic here.

One thing for sure, I'm guessing this decision was made in response to growing criticism, with that Crains commentary this weekend delivering the final blow. Perhaps this is a sign that the city is finally waking up to reality with its transit woes.

VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 12:34 AM

^ The Crain's report should have talked to some people at CTA, or at least some people at the tight-lipped CTA should have been allowed to release more information by their superiors, because this isn't exactly right from my understanding. The Airport service is basically Phase I of the long-term project, which is still undergoing planning but is yet unfunded. It's not that the plans are scrapped, but that no one has found money for it yet. Not a good article.

But yeah, if the actual express service is scrapped for good, that station under B37 is a total waste of money that could have gone towards much needed improvements elsewhere in the system. I mean, to get to O'hare now, I take the bus west to the Blue line then hop on, I don't go all the way downtown, nor would I for service that would be just as slow as the regular trains, and especially not to pay extra.

The potential saving grace is if 1) the downtown terminal still could do the baggage check and flight check-in, so ever though the train ride would be a full 45 minutes, at least that other stuff is dealt with before you reach the airport. This part is left unclear. and 2) with #1 included, the service is perhaps $5-7. Otherwise, who would bother?

the urban politician Oct 4, 2006 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
^ The Crain's report should have talked to some people at CTA, or at least some people at the tight-lipped CTA should have been allowed to release more information by their superiors, because this isn't exactly right from my understanding. The Airport service is basically Phase I of the long-term project, which is still undergoing planning but is yet unfunded. It's not that the plans are scrapped, but that no one has found money for it yet. Not a good article.

But yeah, if the actual express service is scrapped for good, that station under B37 is a total waste of money that could have gone towards much needed improvements elsewhere in the system. I mean, to get to O'hare now, I take the bus west to the Blue line then hop on, I don't go all the way downtown, nor would I for service that would be just as slow as the regular trains, and especially not to pay extra.

The potential saving grace is if 1) the downtown terminal still could do the baggage check and flight check-in, so ever though the train ride would be a full 45 minutes, at least that other stuff is dealt with before you reach the airport. This part is left unclear. and 2) with #1 included, the service is perhaps $5-7. Otherwise, who would bother?

^ An even more clever swindle (and I wouldn't put it past Chicago, as I've been learning over the years) is that this is EXACTLY phase I of the project, but it's being depicted as such ("we've decided to postpone/cancel the rest of the project) as a response to growing criticism. In reality, the CTA isn't doing anything differently from before, it's just being recast as a change in plan.

BTW, the baggage check is a good point. Baggage check with flight info, etc etc would tip the scales in favor of such a trip being worth it. I guess we need more info on this. I'm guessing there will be more in tommorrow's Tribune

MayorOfChicago Oct 4, 2006 2:45 AM

Am I high?

Why spent 5X more to get on a train downtown (at a place when you can usually get a seat anyway) to spend the exact same amount of time doing a stop-and-go behind a train full of other people right in front of you who spent $2?

they'd better have the baggage deal and commit to this express train thing in the future. Otherwise I can think of many other ways they can flush their money down the toilet.

the urban politician Oct 4, 2006 3:43 AM

^ Yeah, even with baggage check in $10 will be a bit steep. They should make it cheaper, perhaps $6, then raise the price later on when express lines are built.

VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 3:52 AM

I think if:

- Baggage check
- Downtown flight check-in / boarding pass printout
- Refurbished, comfortable, plush trains with TVs yadda yadda

it would be worth the extra fee. without all 3 of those, however, I really don't see any point to the service.

The other issue is that terminal access from the Midway Orange Line station is really dreadful, at least in O'hare it dumps you right by Terminals 2/3 and a short walk from Terminal 1. Yet operationally, the airport nonstop/express services requires both O'hare and Midway service because of the track configuration (this is easier to show graphically than describe), not just one or the other.

I guess it could all still work, but theres just not enough detail thats public yet to inspire enough confidence. Plenty of people pay the $2 subway fee PLUS $5 to TRANSFER to an airtrain in NYC, so thats $7 for a trip over an hour long, with a transfer, and no amenities like baggage check, special trains, etc. So $10 for an easy, comfortable trip seems reasonable to me.

VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 3:53 AM

In other news, I was reading about the Illinois Tollway's $5.3 billion construction program to renew and widen all their roads. Just imagine what could be accomplished in the Chicago region if even just half of that money were devoted to transit projects :(

denizen467 Oct 4, 2006 7:30 AM

I think many of you are wrong, mainly because you are looking at the project from a Chicagoan's point of view. I think this is a great interim step before they get the funding (like, 10 years or something maybe?) to roll out a real airport express.
Think of the impact this has for visitors - most visitors would be totally reluctant to take another city's subway system, especially with luggage, laptops, passports, etc. But if there's something officially called an 'airport shuttle' then they know it works and it's safe. As long as the carriages are relatively nice (toss in a plasma screen here and there with useful info, comfy seats, carpeting, etc.) and it actually runs on time, I think this will be a hit.
You have to realize that when someone's got tons of luggage, laptop/passport/valuables, *jet lag*, and maybe is scrambling making various calls on their cell phone, an ordinary Blue Line is just not palatable because of lack of safety, convenience, and quiet. Imagine flying in to O'Hare on a bad weather day at 11pm and the taxi line is a mile long; how many people would ride the Blue Line in that condition at that hour? Now even our frailest of citizens will have a guaranteed safe, reasonably comfortable ride to a safe station with cabs etc.
Also, note that the stations downtown are still shitty - not user friendly for somebody with incorrect change or with lots of luggage. A B37 airport station would (hopefully) have ample elevators, escalators, signage, vending, extra time to board and alight the train especially with luggage, and maybe even luggage lockers. I saw two women carrying a stroller down a narrow flight of stairs downtown on Saturday. Really friggin' embarrassing, and a super station, even without airport check-in, would do wonders for that.

Wright Concept Oct 4, 2006 5:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467
I think many of you are wrong, mainly because you are looking at the project from a Chicagoan's point of view. I think this is a great interim step before they get the funding (like, 10 years or something maybe?) to roll out a real airport express.

Also, note that the stations downtown are still shitty - not user friendly for somebody with incorrect change or with lots of luggage. A B37 airport station would (hopefully) have ample elevators, escalators, signage, vending, extra time to board and alight the train especially with luggage, and maybe even luggage lockers. I saw two women carrying a stroller down a narrow flight of stairs downtown on Saturday. Really friggin' embarrassing, and a super station, even without airport check-in, would do wonders for that.


But on that note, wouldn't that arguement for better station amenties be a better use for the funds for THE EXISTING SYSTEM in Downtown Chicago. Room to have wider staircases/escalators and fare control mezzanines. More space for Superstations on some of the older Elevated Loop Stations such as State/Lake or Randolph/Wabash.

I'm an outsider that visits Chicago at least once a year and goes on the Blue Line Near North-O'Hare treck to get there. I think an Airport Express system would be nice for Chicago- especially since they are going for an Olympic bid. I think that might be one of the differences between LA, SF or Chicago getting the Olympics.

Norsider Oct 4, 2006 5:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
In other news, I was reading about the Illinois Tollway's $5.3 billion construction program to renew and widen all their roads. Just imagine what could be accomplished in the Chicago region if even just half of that money were devoted to transit projects :(

Just one of the many reasons why my head explodes when I hear some nay-sayer "inform" me that there isn't enough money to do such-and-such a project. $2-3 billion for a subway line is NOTHING. Chump change. That's what the US spends in one week to fuck around in Iraq. We spend billions of dollars every year on widening the roads (which, by the way, is nothing more than a public subsidy for private housing developers in Mokena or elsewhere in BuFu), but people seem to be hardwired to recoil in disgust when they hear the pricetag of a CTA improvement. Grrr.

VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 6:00 PM

The "alternate" proposal would be awesome....imagine 22 minutes to O'hare! Again, if the region can spend $5.3 billion on widening tollways, this could easily be a reality if people want it.

Norsider Oct 4, 2006 6:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/7...rcle27.article

CTA Circle Line down to 2 options
Both alternatives might involve new underground rail


[I]September 27, 2006
BY MONIFA THOMAS Transportation Reporter
For the first time, the CTA also floated potential locations for new Circle Line stations, including stops at United Center and Cermak/Blue Island and connections to four Metra lines on Ashland Avenue.

At a public meeting Tuesday, CTA officials said the Circle Line will likely run along one of two routes. The proposed Ashland corridor follows the existing Orange Line along Archer to Ashland, where it heads north and then east on North Avenue before connecting with the Red Line at North and Clybourn.



The second option, known as the Ashland/Ogden corridor, follows almost the same path but cuts from Ashland to Division via Ogden Avenue.


Goddamit. I am terribly disappointed that they deep sixed the Western corridor. The Ashland corridor will be largely redundant as most of the journey is already covered by the pink line. Bottom line is that the vast majority of the Ashland corridor ALREADY HAS TRANSIT. It's just a pointless corridor. It'll save time on trips? Yeah right, I'll take one transfer to go a bit out of my way over two transfers any day of the week. Cutting across Ogden would make it even more pointless as the route wouldn't even touch all the Ashland development from Lake to Fullerton. Have the morons planning this even once driven the route they're proposing? It's all industrial and train tracks and viaducts and slums! Just a complete and total waste of resources.

A north/south line on Western Ave, however, would have about a million riders a day, and basically double the reach of train system. And it's far enough out from downtown that two transfers might even be worth it. Huge missed opportunity in my view. Why is my city so fucking incompetent when it comes to planning for transit? All they seem to be able to do is duplicate their own existing service and/or attempt to compete with the far superior Metra as a commuter system. Bloody morons.

Wright Concept Oct 4, 2006 6:38 PM

^ To my knowledge most of Western Corridor from Berwyn to 95th is in a parkway that could be built as a nice concrete elevated line or an easy to build subway since the boulevard is wider and next to a railroad right-of-way for portions of it which can cut costs. When I was in college, a friend who lives on the South Side and I thought that would really help Chicago a route down Western because of that very condition.

VivaLFuego Oct 4, 2006 7:55 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.

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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