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nomarandlee Mar 16, 2007 4:59 AM

Another train stop for Evanston?
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Another train stop for Evanston?

By Dan Gibbard
Tribune staff reporter

Published March 15, 2007, 1:19 PM CDT

For decades the CTA's Yellow Line has rolled through Evanston without stopping until the Howard Street border with Chicago, but Evanston officials are taking steps toward possibly changing that, surveying residents to see if demand would support a new station on the city's south side.

"Opening up access to an existing line just improves mobility for residents, businesses, employees," said John Burke, director of the Evanston Division of Transportation. "It's always weighed against [the extra time it takes to stop], but certainly we think improving access makes sense for south Evanston."

The survey, which was mailed Friday to a sampling of residents, seeks to gather demographic data as well as opinions and preferences. It asks about commuting patterns, where respondents work and whether they would be interested in having a rapid transit stop nearby.

A public meeting will be held sometime in coming months to discuss the findings.

The city believes it could be feasible, Burke said.

"It's an area where there's a fair amount of redevelopment," he said. "It's the area closest to Chicago, so there are some densities there that can support transit."

The survey is part of a larger market analysis that Evanston, Skokie and the Regional Transportation Authority are conducting on the Yellow Line, also known as the Skokie Swift.

It's the first step in a process that can take years but appears to have worked in neighboring Skokie, which has securing funding for a downtown stop on the Yellow Line.

A 2003 study led to funding for the Oakton Street station, said Steve Marciani, the village's planning supervisor, but that's considered "lightning speed" for such a project.

Since opening in 1964, the Swift has run nonstop from Howard Street, where it links with the CTA's Red and Purple Lines, to Dempster Street in Skokie.

In addition to the Oakton stop, which village officials hope to complete in 2008, a study on extending the line to Old Orchard Road is under way.

dgibbard@tribune.com

nomarandlee Mar 16, 2007 10:53 AM

Double fares might not even help CTA
 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/3...-cta16.article

Double fares might not even help CTA

March 16, 2007
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief

SPRINGFIELD -- Bus and train fares could double and still not keep Chicago area mass transit systems from being awash in red ink, the state's top auditor warned Thursday.

"I'm not advocating this; but even if you double the fares, it's not enough to solve the problem," Auditor General William Holland said.

His nearly two-year study of the financial health of the Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and Metra underscored that mass transit faces a funding crisis that likely will require intervention from Springfield. "These problems are real, and they are significant," he said.

His audit urged lawmakers to revamp the way mass transit is funded. The Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the three transit agencies, relies on sales taxes in Cook and the collar counties -- a formula that has remained unchanged since 1983.

Gov's office touts tax plan
Holland indicated the mass transit agencies have $800 million to $1 billion in operating and capital needs this year. In the last five years, the costs of operating the CTA, Metra and Pace grew by 6.5 percent while revenues increased by only 2.2 percent, the audit showed.

In his budget address last week, Gov. Blagojevich failed to mention the plight of mass transit. But an administration spokesman said mass transit will be taken care of if lawmakers back Blagojevich's bid for a new $6 billion gross receipts tax on businesses.

Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) has said some of the funding crunch will be addressed in a capital program, but no such plan has been proposed yet.

Contributing: Whitney Woodward

dmckinney@suntimes.com

i_am_hydrogen Mar 16, 2007 2:18 PM

Evanston floats idea of new stop on Skokie Swift

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...3/28450824.jpg

By Dan Gibbard, Tribune staff reporter. Freelance reporter Andrew Schroedter contributed to this report
Published March 16, 2007


For decades the Chicago Transit Authority's Yellow Line has rolled through Evanston without stopping until the Howard Street border with Chicago, but city officials are taking steps toward possibly changing that, surveying residents to see if demand would support a new station on the south side.

"Opening up access to an existing line just improves mobility for residents, businesses, employees," said John Burke, director of the Evanston Division of Transportation. "It's always weighed against [the extra time it takes to stop], but certainly we think improving access makes sense for south Evanston."

The survey, mailed March 9 to a sampling of residents, seeks demographic data as well as opinions and preferences. It asks about commuting patterns, where respondents work and whether they would be interested in a rapid transit stop nearby.

A public meeting will be held in the coming months to discuss the findings.

The city believes it could be feasible, said Burke, who mentioned Asbury, Dodge and Ridge Avenues as possible station sites. All three had stations on the old North Shore railroad line, a Yellow Line predecessor.

"It's an area where there's a fair amount of redevelopment," he said. "It's the area closest to Chicago, so there are some densities there that can support transit."

The survey is part of a larger market analysis Evanston, Skokie and the Regional Transportation Authority are conducting on the Yellow Line.

It's the first step in a process that can take years but appears to have worked in neighboring Skokie, which has secured funding for a downtown stop on the Yellow Line, also known as the Skokie Swift.

A 2003 study led to funding for the Oakton Street station, which should be completed next year, said Steve Marciani, the village's planning supervisor, but that's considered "lightning speed" for such a project.

Since opening in 1964, the Swift has run non-stop from Howard, where it links with the CTA's Red and Purple Lines, to Dempster Street in Skokie.

In addition to the Oakton stop, a study on extending the line to Old Orchard Road is under way.

In other north suburban transportation news:

Work will begin this spring that will nearly complete the Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County, leaving a gap of one-third of a mile behind a miniature golf course near Lincolnshire.

After a decade of negotiations, the Lake County Forest Preserve District acquired 12 of the 13 parcels needed to finish the path's southern end and link it with Cook County's trail, said Mike Fenelon, director of planning, conservation and development for the district.

The $604,000 project will extend the trail a quarter-mile south from West Riverside Road and a half-mile north from Estonian Lane in Lincolnshire and unincorporated Vernon Township, Fenelon said.

Construction will take most of the summer, Fenelon said. When it's done, hardy riders can probably ride around the gap and get back onto the trail by heading to Milwaukee Avenue and cutting back east to the trail, but there's no sidewalk or marked path for much of the way.

"You can get around it, but it's grass, and in some places it's wider and in some places it's narrower," Fenelon said. "For small children it's probably not advisable, but we know a lot of people will probably do it when we get it in."

The district is still trying to acquire land behind Par-King Skill Golf, 21711 Milwaukee Ave., but hasn't been able to agree on a price, County Board member Ann Maine said. Though some would like the land condemned through eminent domain, "that's just really fraught with a lot of problems," she said.

"We would love to work something out," Maine said. "We'd love to be able to complete the trail."

Northbrook recently purchased three eco-friendly vehicles that will replace outdated ones driven by village staff.

Altogether, Northbrook paid more than $66,000 for two Toyota Prius cars and one Ford Escape. If driven about 16,000 miles per year, the three hybrid vehicles will save the village at least $3,000 in annual fuel costs, officials said.

The hybrids replace three Ford Taurus sedans powered by ethanol-based fuel. The switch to fuel-saving hybrids was recommended by the Village Board to save money and benefit the environment. "This is sort of the next step," Village Manager John Novinson said.

----------

dgibbard@tribune.com

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

VivaLFuego Mar 16, 2007 3:33 PM

What's tough about transit funding is that everyone in the region benefits (accessibility to jobs/employees/customers, great capacity->less congestion, cleaner air, etc.) but non-users don't perceive these benefits and thus don't want to pony up. Fixing it requires a strong politician with the desire, courage and clout to pass a fair revenue package to fund it, and frankly we don't have anyone like that in Springfield right now.

re: Yellow line, with a stop at Oakton, one in Evanston, and the eventual extension to Old Orchard, this will actually be a pretty useful line and I imagine will get pretty decent ridership. Kinda cool that Skokie will basically have it's own rapid transit line, maybe its success will further encourage other suburbs to explore the benefits of transit...

Chicago3rd Mar 16, 2007 3:55 PM

Swift. If they don't add at least 2-3 more stations then they need to shut it down. It is a waste at this time.

alex1 Mar 17, 2007 2:23 AM

^i agree. I never thought I'd be advocating contraction of a transit system, but at this juncture, there's little incentive to keep the yellow line running. Even with 3 more stations, there's other lines that need to be prioritzed until the region gets its act together.

LA21st Mar 18, 2007 3:08 PM

I agree. Not even sure South Evanston will really support the stations. If you need lines to add station, it would be the green in the South Loop/Near South Side imo. 16th St would be perfect for the growing population and people there take transit. Look at the busy Roosevelt stop. I know suburban people dont want to believe it, but most people in downtown dont use their cars. If some do, its rare.

I do think they should put more money into the current system instead of adding new stations like Block 37. This is such a waste.

I always wonder about the spike of transit users if Chicago had DC or NYC quality service. Hell, even LA. Even though it is a smaller system, it is the cleanest subway in this country. I live in downtown now and plan to stay because of the CTA nightmare. Its cheaper to live in Lakeview, LP or Bucktown.
But the quality of life would go down because of the commute times. Expensive studios is the lesser of 2 evils.

ardecila Mar 18, 2007 3:45 PM

A station on the Green Line at Morgan is in the works to serve the West Loop (there is no station between Clinton and Ashland).

There are also serious plans for a station on the Green Line at or near Cermak to better serve McCormick Place, Motor Row, etc.

Both of these projects are dependent on money from the city, not CTA, so this funding crisis should not affect plans for these stations. CTA will only coordinate it and operate it.

The same is true for the new Oakton station (funded by Skokie) and any potential South Evanston station (funded by Evanston).

VivaLFuego Mar 18, 2007 6:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 2699200)
I agree. Not even sure South Evanston will really support the stations. If you need lines to add station, it would be the green in the South Loop/Near South Side imo. 16th St would be perfect for the growing population and people there take transit. Look at the busy Roosevelt stop. I know suburban people dont want to believe it, but most people in downtown dont use their cars. If some do, its rare.

I do think they should put more money into the current system instead of adding new stations like Block 37. This is such a waste.

I always wonder about the spike of transit users if Chicago had DC or NYC quality service. Hell, even LA. Even though it is a smaller system, it is the cleanest subway in this country. I live in downtown now and plan to stay because of the CTA nightmare. Its cheaper to live in Lakeview, LP or Bucktown.
But the quality of life would go down because of the commute times. Expensive studios is the lesser of 2 evils.

Don't forget LA also contributes twice the public transit subsidy per capita as Chicago....and I'd still take our transit system over theirs for coverage and frequency. The region is just reaping what it sows with its funding level...

I keep going back and forth on the Block 37 tunnels/station. I mean on the one hand, it's $100 million the CTA didn't have to throw around at extra projects; that money could have fixed all of the blue line slow zones and probably done some improvements on the north red line viaducts.

But....

This is the ONLY opportunity for such a tunnel connection and a downtown airport express terminal (whereas funding for track repairs could come through in any given year). There will simply not be another opportunity, either in terms of location or money, to build a downtown station like this. 20 years from now when we all take the service for granted, no one will remember Frank Kruesi and Carole Brown for having the fortitude to go ahead with the project during the only possible window to do it.

But then again, if I were Frank K and Carole B, I'd probably say "well we'd love to do this cool project, but the cheap assholes that put me here are just gonna reap what they sow". Given the time/location constraints on this project are a result of the city, and given that the city is already responsible for most capital projects in the downtown area including the subways and the loop, I think the city should be kicking in the bulk of the funding for this project. To Daley's big discredit, the city kicks in really pathetic amounts of capital funding for the transit system. Given the property tax and TIF bonanza of the last 10 years, every downtown subway station and all the loop stations should be sparkling new and clean.

Attrill Mar 19, 2007 3:47 AM

I agree that it makes sense to join the Red and Blue line tracks for operational reasons, but Frank Kruesi did such a bad job of selling the project. Instead of pitching the idea exactly as was done above he turned it into a half baked airport express that would share the Blue line rails and couldn't really be an express. To make it worse he claimed it would be paid for by private investment that never materialized. The biggest thing that Kruesi offers the CTA today is his head as a negotiating chip with Springfield.

nomarandlee Mar 19, 2007 9:32 PM

Bus line appeals to shoestring travelers
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20...6EUFd9uceUU80F

Bus line appeals to shoestring travelers

By DANIEL LOVERING, AP Business Writer
Mon Mar 19, 11:10 AM ET



PITTSBURGH - For Internet-savvy travelers on a budget, Megabus.com claims to offer a service that makes mainstream bus travel seem pricey: rides from Pittsburgh to Chicago for as little as $1.

The Chicago-based company, which began operating in a number of Midwestern cities last year, plans to launch new service April 2 in Pittsburgh; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo., and Louisville, Ky. It already offers service between Chicago and Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Toledo.

"We're really trying to get people out of their car," Dale Moser, president and chief operating officer of Coach USA, the domestic subsidiary of Scotland-based Stagecoach Group PLC, which runs Megabus. "We think that's the real big advantage."

Megabus uses online ticketing and sidewalk stops instead of ticket counters and bus terminals. Passengers do not buy tickets, but instead give drivers reservation numbers they receive when booking online.

The low-cost model was imported from the United Kingdom, where Stagecoach introduced a similar service nearly four years ago.

"The demand for this type of service has been outstanding," Moser said before a news conference on a street corner in downtown Pittsburgh.

"I don't have a terminal, so I don't have bricks-and-mortar," he said. "I don't have the staff that maintains it. Everything's back room — it's all computer sales. I have nobody handling cash. I have nobody handling any kind of transactions at the bus. The bus driver is focused on taking care of the customers and driving safely."

Advance planning gets you the lowest fares. A limited number of seats are priced at $1, and the fares increase incrementally based on the time between the booking and departure dates, a pricing scheme used by discount airlines.

"But I will tell you that the highest-price seat is still cheaper than all the alternatives to get from Pittsburgh to Chicago," Moser said. The most expensive ticket for such a trip, booked 24 hours in advance, would be $43.50, he said.

Its top-end fares, he said, are lower than those of Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc., the largest intercity bus service in North America.

On a recent day at the Megabus stop in Chicago, two University of Minnesota students, Sean Klontz, 21, and Emily Garber, 20, were returning to Minneapolis after participating in a Chicago-area bicycle race. Klontz said he paid $30 for the same round trip several months ago, but only $20 for this one, since he booked well in advance.

Garber said it was her first Megabus trip, and it was comparable to Greyhound — only cheaper. Both said the seats were narrow, and there was little leg room, but Garber added, "I'll sacrifice the leg room for more money in my wallet."

Mason Klein, 18, was returning to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, after visiting friends in Chicago. He paid $37.50 from Cincinnati to Chicago, but only $25 for the return, since it was midweek.

"It wasn't bad for the price, though it wasn't too clean," he said. "I used to fly or drive, but I'm not on my parents' buck anymore, so I guess this'll do."

Warren and Amy Daigle of Milwaukee, both in their early 50s, got off their first Megabus for a visit to their son in Chicago. Warren called it "safe, pleasant and inexpensive," saying they only paid $10 round-trip apiece.

Other low-cost bus lines have also tried to lure passengers away from Greyhound, including Vamoose, which runs a $25 express bus between Manhattan and the Washington suburbs of Bethesda, Md., and Arlington, Va., and various buses that run from Chinatowns in one city to Chinatowns in other cities. One such company, Fung Wah, has been flagged by government agencies for safety issues, including speeding, which was cited as a factor in an accident that injured 34 passengers on a Fung Wah bus.

Anna Folmnsbee, a spokeswoman for Greyhound, said her company still offers "the best value in transportation on every seat." She noted that Greyhound has dropped fares in some cities; offers a variety of discounts like half-off companion fares and breaks for students; and that unlike some of the newer carriers, Greyhound tickets are refundable and are not schedule-specific - meaning you can buy a ticket and use it for buses leaving at various times.

Bert Powell, an analyst who follows Greyhound for BMO Capital Markets-Canada, said bus activity seems to have increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that regional competition among bus companies has intensified.

"In select routes, you're going to get guys who cherry-pick," he said. "You're going to have guys with three buses nipping at (Greyhound's) heels."

___

If You Go...

MEGABUS: http://www.megabus.com. Serves Pittsburgh; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Detroit; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; St. Louis and Toledo. A limited number of seats are priced at $1 with the most expensive ticket between Pittsburgh and Chicago at $43.50.

___

Associated Press Writer F.N. D'Alessio in Chicago contributed to this report.

brian_b Mar 20, 2007 3:09 AM

On Friday I was down in the Union Station area and saw a Megabus drive past. The destination board above the driver said "New York City" on it! Is this the next step???

nomarandlee Mar 20, 2007 6:01 AM

Public comment sought on extending Red Line
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Public comment sought on extending Red Line

Tribune staff report
Published March 19, 2007, 8:14 PM CDT

Chicago Transit Authority officials are asking for the public's comments on the extension of the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line during a meeting scheduled for next month.

The proposed extension would take the Red Line from the existing south terminal at 95th Street to a new terminal at 130th Street, a move that would streamline several bus-to-rail connections, CTA officials said.

The first meeting will be held April 10 in the 4th floor auditorium of Chicago State University's New Academic Library, 9501 S. King Drive. The second meeting will be April 11 at the West Pullman branch of the Chicago Public Library, 830 W. 119th St.

Both meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.

nomarandlee Mar 20, 2007 8:47 AM

Dp

Marcu Mar 20, 2007 4:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 2703618)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Public comment sought on extending Red Line

Tribune staff report
Published March 19, 2007, 8:14 PM CDT

Chicago Transit Authority officials are asking for the public's comments on the extension of the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line during a meeting scheduled for next month.

The proposed extension would take the Red Line from the existing south terminal at 95th Street to a new terminal at 130th Street, a move that would streamline several bus-to-rail connections, CTA officials said.

The first meeting will be held April 10 in the 4th floor auditorium of Chicago State University's New Academic Library, 9501 S. King Drive. The second meeting will be April 11 at the West Pullman branch of the Chicago Public Library, 830 W. 119th St.

Both meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.

Can they please just focus on fixing existing rail lines

Chicago3rd Mar 20, 2007 8:57 PM

Moretoreum on all track expansion until you can fix the tracks you have.

Attrill Mar 20, 2007 10:06 PM

Part of the problem is how screwed up funding is for the CTA. Many of the problems the CTA faces are in its operating budget (i.e. maintenance work) and expanding service is a capital expense that is covered by different funding sources (usually federal grants). There are major problems with CTA management, but most of the expansion projects are paid for with federal grants that cannot be used to fix the existing problems.

For maintenance issues the RTA funding situation needs to be fixed (and the CTA needs new management as well).

ardecila Mar 20, 2007 10:16 PM

Yes, but system expansion increases operating costs, which there is a HUGE shortage of already. However, the state will not just let the state's infrastructure crumble like this. Eventually, they will have to do something. Rod's tax hike might help. I fully expect at least a small percentage of that money to go to transportation, if only to help pacify the business community.

Background information on the Red Line extension: IDOT wants to extend the Red Line in the median of the Bishop Ford. CTA wants to extend it using a Union Pacific track running through Roseland.

The UP track and the Bishop Ford meet near 130th, so they would end up in the same spot. The advantage of the Union Pacific route is that it doesn't duplicate service with Metra Electric quite so much.

honte Mar 21, 2007 1:43 AM

^ No more transit lines in the middle of highways! Put the transit in the neighborhoods.

I think the maintenance mess will obviously be resolved some time in the future. It would be a mistake to turn down an opportunity to expand the system, even in these annoying circumstances. The operations funding could even be fixed by the time the new line is operational.

ardecila Mar 21, 2007 3:03 AM

Oh, it will definitely be fixed by that time. I'm just pointing the fact out that, no matter who pays for expansion (Red Line Extension, Yellow Line Extension, Circle Line, Transitway, whatever) CTA will still have to secure funds for maintenance and operations.

This is just the start of Alternatives Analysis, which takes about 2 years. Then it's time for an Environmental Impact Study once a method is chosen. The EIS helps refine the design. This takes another 2-3 years. Then it will probably take 2-3 years in construction. This leaves us with an optimistic timeframe of 9 years, just in time for the Olympics.

Now, anything can be hurried with money, but there would have to be some sort of impetus. I'll wait until April 19th to see.


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