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OhioGuy May 17, 2008 6:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3558205)
And there will always be a few here and there always popping up.

Speaking of which, has a new slow zone popped up on the red line northside tracks in the subway between Chicago and Clark & Division? I know I've been on trains that have flown through that area in the past, yet lately I've noticed that we've been going much more slowly. It seems to be happening during the first half of the distance between those two stations. It's not slow enough that it indicates crews are working in the tunnel, but at the same time it's definitely slower than the remainder of the trip north through the subway. I thought all of that track work was finished several months ago? It's already bad again?

(or maybe I'm getting it mixed up and it's actually the first half of the distance between Clark & Division and North & Clybourn?... for some reason I'm now having trouble remembering where exactly it's occurring)

Chicago3rd May 17, 2008 12:44 PM

Quote:

CTA says N. Side track work will be done 6 months early

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
1:04 PM CDT, May 14, 2008

CTA track work on a busy North Side rail corridor will be completed by the end of the year, six months ahead of schedule, transit officials said Wednesday.

Service on two southbound tracks will resume in late December at the Fullerton and Belmont stations serving the Red, Brown and Purple/Evanston Express lines.

Trains currently share one southbound track at the stations, resulting in slower service.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel...,7532255.story

This is why I don't buy the tribune anymore. We have a reporter reporting on the CTA and being so lazy as to not start the story out with a declaration in the first line of his subject matter. To read the first sentence we would assume that the Brownline and Slow zone work will all be done by the end of the year. Point is....with crappy reporting like this we will never have a serious discussion in this city about mass transit....which we all know is what the right/slant Tribune owners/editors desire....no real discussion about our need for a vastly improved system.

jjk1103 May 17, 2008 2:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3558205)
There will likely be some remaining on North Main (Red Line north of Belmont) and certainly some on the Purple Line in Evanston. And there will always be a few here and there always popping up.

....yes, I was thinking the same thing ! that stretch between Addison and Sheridan and Wilson in particular......but this is still VERY ENCOURAGING news !! you're saying that for all practical purposes, the slow zone problem is going away by the end of the year !! (assuming good future maintenance) :notacrook: :notacrook:

k1052 May 17, 2008 7:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3558269)
Speaking of which, has a new slow zone popped up on the red line northside tracks in the subway between Chicago and Clark & Division? I know I've been on trains that have flown through that area in the past, yet lately I've noticed that we've been going much more slowly. It seems to be happening during the first half of the distance between those two stations. It's not slow enough that it indicates crews are working in the tunnel, but at the same time it's definitely slower than the remainder of the trip north through the subway. I thought all of that track work was finished several months ago? It's already bad again?

(or maybe I'm getting it mixed up and it's actually the first half of the distance between Clark & Division and North & Clybourn?... for some reason I'm now having trouble remembering where exactly it's occurring)

According to the most recent slow zone map (May 14) there is no slow zone indicated in the subway between Chicago and Clark/Division.

The northbound tube is still slow zoned (25 and 35mph) between Clark/Division and the portal due to track condition and is part of the remaining work to be done.

Taft May 17, 2008 9:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3558427)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel...,7532255.story

This is why I don't buy the tribune anymore. We have a reporter reporting on the CTA and being so lazy as to not start the story out with a declaration in the first line of his subject matter. To read the first sentence we would assume that the Brownline and Slow zone work will all be done by the end of the year. Point is....with crappy reporting like this we will never have a serious discussion in this city about mass transit....which we all know is what the right/slant Tribune owners/editors desire....no real discussion about our need for a vastly improved system.

Excellent points. The trib's reporting continues to go down hill, especially on transit issues. Even John Hilkevitch is often off the mark, IMO, but at least he tries...

Reading your recent posts, I have to say our stances on transit are pretty dang similar. Weren't we ferociously arguing about the CTA a few months back? Amazing how that crap happens on the interweb. :)

Taft

Jibba May 17, 2008 10:13 PM

Speaking of the Trib, anyone read the editorial Firday, "The $153 million traffic jam" (section 1, page 24)? They basically summed up the BRT project as a ploy to make driving worse for commuters in order to boost ridership of mass transit:
"If Chicago wants to migrate drivers to mass transit, it should concentrate on making the buses and trains a better option, not making the car a worse one."
While I partially agree with this statement taken as is, I just simply don't agree with it in the context of the transit situation, personal and mass, in Chicago right now. The editorial criticized the CTA for being underfunded, but doesn't the CTA's share of federal funding depend on ridership statistics? And isn't the fact that it's so (relatively) easy to drive a car in Chicago one of the main reasons that CTA ridership isn't the maximum of what it could potentially be? So, in reality, couldn't making it more difficult for people to commute by car could potentially help break the cycle and help the CTA get the funds it needs to improve the ridership experience that so many potential riders have been clamoring for?

To its credit, the Tribune editorial did applaud Huberman for his recent efforts, but then in the same paragraph they followed up with this:
"But Chicago would be foolish to make life miserable for motorists before it can assure them a more attractive alternative. When the CTA is on track, drivers will be more inclined to park their cars and climb aboard."
So is my aforementioned reasoning about breaking the transit cycle flawed, or is the Tribune totally uninformed here?

the urban politician May 18, 2008 3:39 AM

^ Well put.

What you're talking about is a sickly disease in American society that is older than the CTA itself. It's the disease of extremely cheap automobile subsidation at the expense of well-established transit systems that have long been at the brink of bankruptcy. It's about time that real market forces are finally allowed to express themselves.

Reporters who feel otherwise are simply ignorant. I say lets bring back the true value of transit sooner rather than later, and the higher the cost of driving & parking, the better. If you want to drive, PAY for the priviledge--period.

ardecila May 18, 2008 6:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3559563)
^ Well put.

What you're talking about is a sickly disease in American society that is older than the CTA itself. It's the disease of extremely cheap automobile subsidation at the expense of well-established transit systems that have long been at the brink of bankruptcy. It's about time that real market forces are finally allowed to express themselves.

Reporters who feel otherwise are simply ignorant. I say lets bring back the true value of transit sooner rather than later, and the higher the cost of driving & parking, the better. If you want to drive, PAY for the priviledge--period.

"Real" market forces? What real market forces? Removing lanes from openly-traveled roads at rush hour is yet another, more complicated government control on market forces. I'm behind transit as much as you are, but I can't possibly see how you can put a free-market spin on this.

Also, transit systems were on the brink of bankruptcy long before cars became popular and suburbanization began. Only in Japan, and possibly other Asian countries, can transit systems meet their expenses through ticket sales. In all other developed parts of the world, transit systems require heavy subsidies, just as highway systems do.

Eventually...Chicago May 18, 2008 6:30 AM

If we really were to put a free market spin on driving, for example, a pure libertarian "pay for only what you use", no one could afford to drive. The only way we could achieve this is to have a toll booth every block.

It's kind of weird, i don't think anyone has actually figured out what it costs to have cars drive. We know what it costs to own a car and we know what road projects cost, but it is much more difficult to figure out what it really costs to allow people to drive.

Transit, because the routes and ridership is trackable and funding is contained to specific agencies, is much easier to figure out costs. When people see the high cost of transit per mile they freak out, but if we could accurately state the costs of local roads, highways, maintenance and all the things it takes to drive (including opportunity costs) people would pass out.

Market forces matter very little when you're talking about something that has to be funded by a group of people and has wide reaching effects. And market forces definitely don't apply to publicly funded amenities. If we were to privatize our entire transportation system (roads and all), transit systems would have a leg up because they are much more efficient to run.

Driving should be made more difficult and costly because it is difficult and costly to provide. Anyone from lincoln park who drives to the loop should be taxed, charged, ticketed, through the nose. Transportation is (hopefully) about smarter people telling less smart people how the should live their lives. Otherwise less smart people will make less smart transportation decisions. (like whoever decided to make north avenue 6 lanes across from the tristate on west, just plain stupid)

^^^^^Also, bankruptcy bears no indication of an industry's effectiveness. All our airlines are going bankrupt, but flight is still the most effective means to travel long distances. Conversely, oil companies are raking in the dough but i don't think anyone can make any reasonable argument that oil is an effective energy solution.

the urban politician May 18, 2008 2:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3559732)
Also, transit systems were on the brink of bankruptcy long before cars became popular and suburbanization began. Only in Japan, and possibly other Asian countries, can transit systems meet their expenses through ticket sales. In all other developed parts of the world, transit systems require heavy subsidies, just as highway systems do.

^ One can easily turn this into a chicken versus egg argument.

People "fled" transit systems because of cheap gasoline, Federally subsidized sprawl that allowed for very cheap housing in extremely low density areas with ready accessibility to resources due to a spaghetti-like array of high capacity road networks, cheap gasoline, etc...all Federally built & subsidized.

The original railroads and transit systems, however, were built by PRIVATE companies. So Govt intervention, while not starting this mess (people were moving to suburbs and buying cars long before that, true), certainly accelerated the process.

My "free market" spin is an old argument, and one which you've already heard. Make driving cost what it really should cost, and we'll see how many people will choose (or not choose) to take transit instead.

And this brings about a much deeper issue: should representative Govt really give people what they "want", as opposed to what is in their collective "best interests"? I think too many Americans believe the former, but not I.

Chicago3rd May 18, 2008 2:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Taft (Post 3559091)
Excellent points. The trib's reporting continues to go down hill, especially on transit issues. Even John Hilkevitch is often off the mark, IMO, but at least he tries...

Reading your recent posts, I have to say our stances on transit are pretty dang similar. Weren't we ferociously arguing about the CTA a few months back? Amazing how that crap happens on the interweb. :)

Taft

Of course....I would hope I never agree with everyone all the time. Some of the time is great though.

Mr Downtown May 19, 2008 3:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eventually...Chicago (Post 3559758)
The only way we could achieve this is to have a toll booth every block.

Well, the system we've had for the last 50 years, having a tollbooth on every gas pump, has worked reasonably well. User fees paid by motorists—and only by motorists—pay for all highways and roughly half the cost of local streets. But remember that we've always had local streets, even before there were autos to help pay for them.

Quote:

i don't think anyone has actually figured out what it costs to have cars drive.
The direct, actual costs of streets and highways are totaled up every year.



http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/econ...ubsidy.html#s7

Eventually...Chicago May 19, 2008 5:08 AM

^^^ to compare streets before autos and streets after autos is absurd. There are roads in rome that were built hundreds of years ago and have never needed repair because they don't see heavy automobile traffic yet they full supported a city of a million people and cost nothing to maintain.

So called "user fees" at pumps do not accurately price car travel as it is location non-specific. All a user fee at a pump can tax is the actually amount of driving that is done. This hasn't worked very well, if you notice the highway trust fund, you'll find that this is headed to insolvency in the next year to two. And there is the little ongoing war with the middle east that we're engaged in to try to secure oil supplies so people in decatur can drive on their nice 4 lane concrete highway to pick up their miller lite.

One problem(of many) with the automobile system is that the road that is built out to a town of 60 people is the same road that is built out to a town of 6000 people. The same goes for water service, storm water treatment, waste water,... most infrastructure. If we were to actually price road usage appropriately, you would need a toll booth every block and the most used roads would have the cheapest tolls and the least used roads would have the highest tolls. (i.e. a $20 road used by 100 people costs each user 20 cents, a $10 road used by 10 people costs each user a dollar)

Obviously, that town of 60 people could not get close to supporting their roads because the simply do not use them as intensely enough to justify their existence. Because having toll booths every block is impractical, we end up building all our roads from the same pool of money and large, urban areas end up paying more than their share to make sure people in Yorkville can drive 10 miles to the grocery store.

Again for example, the suburbs gain a ton from being near I90 or 290 or whatever, yet the benefit to the city is very minimal. A town the size of antioch could not afford to build the tri-state tollway by itself, it had to be "subsidized" by dense, concentrations of wealth (a.k.a. cities). In return , the suburbs provide very little to the city that gave it a reason for existing.

To restate my first point, we don't know what it really costs to provide roads everywhere. The costs are not contained nor calculable. If we, as a society, would use logic more than stupid rules of thumb and misleading statistics, we'd realize that transit gives you a real, predictable return on investment whereas automobiles are unpredictable, inefficient drains on our economy.

Mr Downtown May 19, 2008 2:05 PM

The value of a network is in its completeness, not in its perfect matching of cost with pricing for each individual segment. We don't price water service by how many people are on the main. We don't price postage by how remote the delivery destination is. A highway through Utah might have very little traffic compared to the Edens, but it's no less important to the network. We in the city benefit from the ability of suburbanites to easily get here. Would you make the same argument about the Metra network, that "the suburbs gain a ton from being near the BNSF, yet the benefit to the city is very minimal?"

Your argument about Antioch is particularly funny, since the Tri-State was built as a tollway--and still is. It was funded entirely by its users, people who wanted to avoid the congestion of Chicago streets.

sukwoo May 19, 2008 2:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3561015)
Well, the system we've had for the last 50 years, having a tollbooth on every gas pump, has worked reasonably well. User fees paid by motorists—and only by motorists—pay for all highways and roughly half the cost of local streets.

Does this include funding via the occasional Federal transportation/infrastructure and state capital bills?

Chicago3rd May 19, 2008 3:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3561015)
Well, the system we've had for the last 50 years, having a tollbooth on every gas pump, has worked reasonably well. User fees paid by motorists—and only by motorists—pay for all highways and roughly half the cost of local streets. But remember that we've always had local streets, even before there were autos to help pay for them.

Highways aren't paid for only by motorists at the gas pump. Only 56% of funding for the freeways and highways comes from the gas pump. And everything that is trucked in is paid for by the consumers.....the tax is passed along to us.

But I agree with you on the "network" concept and you are correct...it is about the completeness of a system that determines its value.

Mr Downtown May 19, 2008 3:36 PM

Quote:

Does this include funding via the occasional Federal transportation/infrastructure and state capital bills?
Yes. There are so many transfers among different levels of government that the only way to get a true accounting is to look at total funds collected and total funds expended by all governments. That's what Table HF-10 attempts to do.

Quote:

Only 56% of funding for the freeways and highways comes from the gas pump.
Look more carefully. When BTS says "highway system," they mean all roads, even local streets. Given the history of transportation funding, I think it's fair to say that user fees pay the entire costs of everything laymen would call a "highway," and somewhere between half and two-thirds (it varies from year to year) of the cost of local streets.

Quote:

And everything that is trucked in is paid for by the consumers.....the tax is passed along to us.
As would be the cost of transporting it via backpack, covered wagon, sailing ship, steam train, dirigible, or genuine bona fide monorail.

Eventually...Chicago May 19, 2008 4:38 PM

The value of a network is not it's completeness, it is in making sure that resources are efficiently used according to their capacity.

For instance, a cell phone network. While it is valuable for us to have service in most places, it is more important to have enough service in areas that have the most number of cell phones to ensure smooth operation.

Bloomington, Illinois has 3 lane expressways surrounding it. The Eden’s Expressway is 3 lanes. I don’t have a statistics, but something tells me that that expressway is in Bloomington is underutilized or the Eden's is overutilized, or both. When you look at the interstate system, it has two lane, separated highways connecting major cities. While it is important that we connect our major economic centers, the automobile is a terribly inefficient way to do it. There is hardly an interstate where the road is used to capacity. This is where rail has a ton of efficiency. Low land usage, low maintenance, high volume, high fuel efficiency, cheap to build (relative to highways, on-ramps, excavation), all of which is sacrificed to gain the mobility and freedom you have with a personal vehicle. Like roads, rails are often not used to capacity, but the continuous investment needed to maintain it is vastly less.

Going back to my analogy, in the US, we have a transportation system that is akin to placing high capacity cell towers where few people live along with not having high enough capacity cell towers where everyone lives.

This concept of network utilization is true for almost all network types. In technology, why have a super-computer running Nintendo (answer: because Nintendo is awesome) and a graphing calculator mapping human DNA? This is the same reason why mainframe computing is making a comeback, it is a more efficient use of resources.

Also, you have to consider indirect costs because those are real costs. They are really difficult to figure out, but they are certainly there. Diminished environmental quality, less healthy life styles, … drivers may or may not pay for the cost of maintaining and building roads but they most certainly do not pay to cover secondary and tertiary effects of driving.

And we should price a water service on how many people are on a main. It is for this very reason we spend millions of dollars running water service to towns of 100 people at a tremendous loss. Politically though, it would not fly.

I would love to see stats that break down per capita spending based on location density for transportation, all forms of transportation. Because something tells me that we are spending an unbelievable amount for Hinsdalians, Buffalo Grovians, Orland Parkites to be able to drive around and spending next to nothing for Chicagoans to take the EL or drive down the street for groceries. I’d also like to see this for infrastructure. Anyone know any sources?

Eventually...Chicago May 19, 2008 4:46 PM

On a lighter note...

I've always wondered, do train tracks ever need to be plowed or anything?

I guess i've always assumed that trains are big and heavy enough to pretty much just push through whatever is in front of them.

aaron38 May 19, 2008 5:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eventually...Chicago (Post 3561601)
I've always wondered, do train tracks ever need to be plowed or anything?

Sure, if it gets deep enough. I've never seen one in Chicago, but they're common in Canada and the mountains, where 3 feet of snow can fall overnight.
http://www.northeast.railfan.net/plow2.html


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