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ardecila May 1, 2020 5:21 PM

Can't speak for all IDOT projects but the work on Circle Interchange is full steam ahead... there may be issues on a project basis though. If one worker on the Salt Creek bridge was confirmed positive, they may have quarantined everyone and paused work.

Or they may have critical issues with material availability. The apartment building going up across the street from me paused for 3 weeks in March with half the podium poured, supposedly because they couldn't get concrete from the batch plant.

jpIllInoIs May 7, 2020 1:20 AM

AMtrak StPaul-Milw-Chi 2nd round trip
 
"The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized the Fiscal Years 2018-2020 R&E Grants Program, which provides operating assistance to initiate, restore, or enhance intercity passenger rail transportation through eligible projects that may include adding frequencies to current services, extending current services to new markets or station stops, offering new on-board services, initiating new service, or restoring a previously operated service."

Funding under this program was made available by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, and the Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2019, 2018, and 2017.


https://railroads.dot.gov/newsroom/p...-restore-and-0

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service Project $12,569,200
Chicago, IL, to Saint Paul, MN


The project adds a second daily roundtrip passenger train between Union Depot in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Union Station in Chicago, Illinois. These endpoints are currently served along Amtrak’s Empire Builder long distance service. This additional train will provide travelers with more reliable service at convenient times between Saint Paul and Chicago, as poor on-time performance from the eastbound Empire Builder currently results in unreliable daily passenger service from Saint Paul. The proposed service will make 12 station stops in St. Paul, Minnesota; Red Wing, Minnesota; Winona, Minnesota; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Tomah, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; Portage, Wisconsin; Columbus, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sturtevant, Wisconsin; Glenview, Illinois; and Chicago, Illinois. The project supplements the existing Empire Builder and Hiawatha routes with passenger rail service approximately four to six hours apart from the existing Empire Builder schedule and increases intercity transportation options and connectivity for rural communities between St. Paul and Milwaukee.

jtown,man May 11, 2020 12:09 PM

Can anyone 'in the know' inform us if it is possible that local and state governments could ramp up road construction in a really quick fashion? Like right now, it would be a perfect time to do all the road work for obvious reasons. Is there even a mechanism for doing this or am I making it out to be too simple?

ardecila May 11, 2020 2:25 PM

^ It's hard to cycle this stuff up and down on short notice. Nobody has any more money to pour into construction than they did before the pandemic, but now budgets are stretched even tighter. The phrase "shovel-ready project" is kind of a joke, because engineering is expensive and cities/states don't usually pay for final design/engineering until they already have the money for construction lined up. So even if you hand governments the money tomorrrow, it may still take 12 months to complete the design work. And that's assuming all the planning and environmental impact studies are done - if not, add another 2 years at least. Even under normal circumstances, the system for project approval is designed purposefully to slow the process down as much as possible, because nobody wants another freeway cutting through their precious neighborhood and displacing people... a VERY long timeline in theory allows for years of public debate, legal challenges, and careful consideration of every minor little impact.

It's also tough for governments to front-load projects that are already approved/designed/funded, because the workforce in the various roadbuilding contractors is limited, and they won't staff up/train new employees without a guarantee of several good years of work.
The most governments can do is speed up projects that are already under construction, by doing larger and longer closures of roads to traffic. Last weekend they closed ALL FOUR outbound lanes of the Kennedy to demolish part of the bridge at Montrose. But even that window is closing, as businesses start to re-open and everyone is scared off transit - congestion will return to pre-pandemic levels soon, even before businesses are fully re-open. Governments can also speed up small projects (resurfacing, restriping, etc) using city workers to do the design and construction, if they have the money to pay them overtime. CDOT has striped some bike lanes, done some curb bumpouts around town, etc but nothing huge.

Mr Downtown May 12, 2020 12:49 AM

AIUI, CDOT has been pushing utilities to accelerate their anticipated pavement openings while traffic was so light. So not what we would think of as serious road construction, but the kind of annoyances that peeve motorists.

ardecila May 12, 2020 2:41 PM

That's something, I guess...

Tom In Chicago May 12, 2020 6:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 8919286)
AIUI, CDOT has been pushing utilities to accelerate their anticipated pavement openings while traffic was so light. So not what we would think of as serious road construction, but the kind of annoyances that peeve motorists.

Right. . . anecdotally there have been quite a few places in and around the Loop that I've seen being worked on for one reason or another. . . I thought surely they had these projects on deck and are trying to use the opportunity of light traffic to wrap it up. . .

. . .

ardecila Jun 2, 2020 8:41 PM

Belmont Flyover - 06/02/20

About half of the columns are cast, and all the caissons are done... wouldn't be surprised if they start setting the steel beams soon. Of course the flyover itself is only part of the project, they're also rebuilding the entire Main Line structure between Belmont and Addison in Phase 2.

https://i.imgur.com/tnY38x0.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/k26gQni.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/SDQV627.jpg

Tcmetro Jun 3, 2020 5:10 AM

Thanks for the pics. Was not aware of this progress!

Crawford Jun 3, 2020 12:16 PM

That flyover is pretty cool. This is just north of the Belmont stop?

ardecila Jun 3, 2020 2:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8940968)
That flyover is pretty cool. This is just north of the Belmont stop?

Yes; it will carry northbound Brown Line trains over the mainline to eliminate conflicts at a flat junction and allow more trains in the future. CTA had to tear down, partially demo or relocate 20 properties, so there was a bit of controversy... but it seems like the construction team has been good neighbors since the demolition. They ought to be, considering how much taxpayer money they're spending on this thing...

N830MH Jun 13, 2020 5:52 AM

Hi all,

CTA Yellow Line Train Derailed By Fallen Tree Limb

https://patch.com/illinois/skokie/ct...6gBcskwuVMsclE

Did you see that? The tree fallen down near the trains, but they got almost flip it. Luckily, nobody who got hurts. They delayed for 5 hours.

jpIllInoIs Jul 16, 2020 2:14 PM

Metra infill Peterson/Ridge
 
https://metrarail.com/about-metra/ne...-ridge-station


"The project, which is expected to start this fall and take about 18 months to complete, includes construction of two six-car platforms; a new pedestrian bridge over Peterson Avenue; heated concrete stairs and ADA-compliant ramps; a glass and masonry warming house with side canopies and metal roof; two shelters with on-demand heating; an access drive with a cul-de-sac turnaround and ADA pick-up/drop-off; five ADA parking spaces and 44 pay parking spaces along Ravenswood Avenue; bicycle parking; a plaza with associated landscaping and irrigation system; reworked traffic signals for the station entrance; and the rehabilitation of the existing bridges at Peterson and Ridge avenues."

I hope those parking spaces dont replace the cool neighborhood garden. Google streetview

Busy Bee Jul 16, 2020 7:18 PM

My goodness the agency needs a talented in-house architect.

ardecila Jul 16, 2020 9:14 PM

I've seen various renderings, all essentially the same but with different materials.

Looks like it started off with good intentions in 2013, with a decent charcoal brick, some nice recessed panels and zinc roofing:
https://mariociaralli.carbonmade.com/projects/4971257

And got killed by poor material choices. "Community feedback" maybe... someone, somewhere thinks this reject 1990s Orland Park-style design is just right, and spoke loudly about it to the alderman or someone at Metra.



At least the Auburn Park Metra station is looking... interesting? There's a full platform canopy, screening/vegetation on the side of the track structure, a halfway decent plaza, and they may be keeping this nice terra cotta wall from the 1920s.

Or maybe they're building this design, which looks a lot cheaper. Either way it's better than Peterson/Ridge, although the park and ride is a little disappointing when the highest-ridership bus in the city is right there for transfers.

Mr Downtown Aug 28, 2020 4:10 PM

From Crain's:

Progress on South Side transit-boosting plan

With the help of a big-name consultant who’s used to dealing with divided government, the Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle administrations may finally be nearing a deal on a pilot program to expand public transit on the South Side and suburbs.

At issue is a plan that has been debated for well over a year to expand service on Metra’s electric and Rock Island lines by adding more trains, especially during non-rush periods, and cutting fares to the same or less than the Chicago Transit Authority charges. Lightfoot and the CTA have reacted negatively to that, even though Preckwinkle has offered to make up any loss of revenue to the CTA during the test period, leaving the two sides stalemated.
***
“We have come a long way. We’re close to having something that will work for everybody,” said Randy Blankenhorn, a former Illinois secretary of transportation who earlier headed the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Blankenhorn, who was retained in January at $10,000 a month, declined to provide details but said he expects to present a detailed package by the end of September.
***
Meanwhile, in an apparently related action, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration today announced a $330,000 "innovation grant" to Cook County to "target outreach to low-income residents and potential new transit customers about reduced fares and seamless travel options" in cooperation with Metra and CTA


https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg...-boosting-plan

ardecila Aug 28, 2020 4:36 PM

^ Devil is in the details on this. I'm hopeful that Lightfoot and Preckwinkle can bury the hatchet, at least on this one issue, but very skeptical that Metra can reform even in small ways to actually make Metra Electric or Rock Island into efficient regional lines.

What's the best case scenario here, 30 minute headways with some complicated arrangement for discounted transfers to CTA buses?

Mr Downtown Aug 28, 2020 5:54 PM

I'm not sure additional trains are in the scheme, at least initially, but full fare integration is. You could board a Metra train same as a CTA train, same transfer charge.

There are lots of empty seats on especially the Metra Electric. Letting folks in Riverdale, Harvey, Robbins, or Blue Island more easily get to downtown or North Side service or retail jobs could mean a lot for southern Cook County.

SIGSEGV Aug 28, 2020 5:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9025512)
I'm not sure additional trains are in the scheme, at least initially, but full fare integration is. You could board a Metra train same as a CTA train, same transfer charge.

There are lots of empty seats on especially the Metra Electric. Letting folks in Riverdale, Harvey, Robbins, or Blue Island more easily get to downtown or North Side service or retail jobs could mean a lot for southern Cook County.

The biggest benificiary would be Hyde Park of course, which already has 20 minute ME headways for much of the day.

Busy Bee Aug 28, 2020 9:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9025512)
There are lots of empty seats on especially the Metra Electric.

The South Side and near suburbs being built for about a million more people than it currently has may have something to do with that.

Mr Downtown Aug 28, 2020 10:36 PM

Maybe, but a bigger issue is that south suburbanites just don't work downtown any more. Or more to the point, the folks who work downtown nowadays don't think of Homewood or Hazel Crest or Park Forest as a place they want to raise a family.

sentinel Aug 28, 2020 11:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9025818)
Maybe, but a bigger issue is that south suburbanites just don't work downtown any more. Or more to the point, the folks who work downtown nowadays don't think of Homewood or Hazel Crest or Park Forest as a place they want to raise a family.

Is this anecdotal or based on sourced information?

Mr Downtown Aug 29, 2020 3:29 AM

Observational. The large numbers of administrative and middle-management positions that used to be the mainstay of the Black middle class just don't exist any more, at least not downtown. Downtown jobs have become much more tech and finance focused, and the workforce younger and whiter.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...717-story.html

emathias Sep 1, 2020 4:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9025512)
I'm not sure additional trains are in the scheme, at least initially, but full fare integration is. You could board a Metra train same as a CTA train, same transfer charge.

There are lots of empty seats on especially the Metra Electric. Letting folks in Riverdale, Harvey, Robbins, or Blue Island more easily get to downtown or North Side service or retail jobs could mean a lot for southern Cook County.

In the long term, if transit survives COVID, electrifying UP-North and creating a tunnel through Streeterville then West to join tracks south of the Clybourn station would enable through-routing Metra Electric and essentially adding useful rapid transit to the South Lakefront and the North Side. Imagine being able to take a train from Hyde Park to Lincoln Yards or Ravenswood to McCormick Place or even just the East Loop.

TR Devlin Sep 2, 2020 2:44 PM

From the Illinois Department of Transportation

Quote:

Two Ramps at Jane Byrne Interchange to Open

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that two reconstructed ramps will open at the Jane Byrne Interchange. Originally slated to open in October, the ramp from inbound Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) to the outbound Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90/94) will open, weather permitting, Wednesday, Sept. 2, one month ahead of schedule. The ramp from outbound Ida B. Wells Drive to the outbound Kennedy opens, weather permitting, the week of Sept. 14.

Mr Downtown Sep 2, 2020 6:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 9028723)
Imagine being able to take a train from Hyde Park to Lincoln Yards

Ahhh, Lincoln Yards can rot in inaccessibility. When someone buys inaccessible industrial land, it shouldn't be the public that pays to turn it into a new regional office hub.

Chicago's initial S-Bahn line should be O'Hare to Homewood via Union Station. S2 would run Winnetka to Blue Island, also via the Union Station runthrough tracks. Connecting two lakefront lines via the lakefront does nothing for new connections.

https://i.imgur.com/gu48htU.jpg

sentinel Sep 2, 2020 7:08 PM

That's a very nice map - apologies for my ignorance, what is that from? I'm not familiar with this project, or is this your proposal?

Edit: I just saw the credit on the side; well done.

ardecila Sep 2, 2020 8:52 PM

I don't love the idea of a Clark tunnel through the Loop - it's an easy connection for Rock Island but it's a little far from regional destinations closer to the lakefront like Northwestern Hospital, the museums or Millennium Park. It really does nothing to expand the "transit core" which seems like a missed opportunity for a multi-billion dollar project. I guess the only advantage is you can have Red/Blue Line connections at Jackson or Washington with one block of transfer tunnel...

I'd rather see Rock Island trains go into a short tunnel toward the lake around 26th, and then put your big south transfer point at McCormick Place. Then the Rock Island trains would continue up through Grant Park on existing tracks to a tunnel under Stetson/Fairbanks and Chicago. Probably about the same amount of tunneling, just split into two chunks. The south tunnel wouldn't have any stations so it could be cheap-ish; the north tunnel would have 2-3 at Streeterville, Water Tower/State and maybe Cabrini or Halsted.

Mr Downtown Sep 3, 2020 1:50 AM

I don't think it makes sense to send heavy capacity regional lines into parkland where no one lives or works. Museum Campus, McCormick Place, Mag Mile, and NMH are best served by a last-mile connector I call the C-Line:

https://i.imgur.com/qWkWn6W.jpg

lakeshoredrive Sep 4, 2020 6:42 PM

I saw a video on Facebook from CTA that talked about how they were moving forward with the red line extension.

jpIllInoIs Sep 6, 2020 3:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lakeshoredrive (Post 9032287)
I saw a video on Facebook from CTA that talked about how they were moving forward with the red line extension.

Biggest f'n waste of money!:doh:

sentinel Sep 7, 2020 4:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 9033680)
Biggest f'n waste of money!:doh:

Why? Because people won't use it?

emathias Sep 7, 2020 6:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9030574)
I don't think it makes sense to send heavy capacity regional lines into parkland where no one lives or works. Museum Campus, McCormick Place, Mag Mile, and NMH are best served by a last-mile connector I call the C-Line:
...

I think this is one of the most intelligent ideas for dramatically improving downtown access and circulation I've ever seen proposed. There are possibilities for tweaks (for example, I think the NE loopback for the circulator might better be routed up Fairbanks crossing Lake Shore Park looping around Dewitt, Chestnut, and Pearson) but even without tweaks it would be a tremendous improvement and solve virtually every major transit issue for downtown. A Clinton Subway had been discussed for decades and only really needs funding to get done. Other than funding in general, the hardest part would probably be the S-Bahn part, since the best way to do that would be to electric the UP lines, which might be a tall order. It might be possible to only electrify the parts in Chicago and Evanston and do shorter, non-suburban (plus Evanston) runs for the S-Bahn parts if some sidings could be identified for staging on the UP segments. That would be great for the City and for downtown. The Circulator portion appears to be proposed as either BRT or streetcar segments, but with a few judicious segments as subways (making Clinton more like the proposed West Loop Transportation Center, for example, and making good use of Carroll) it would be faster than most streetcars and more like Boston's Green Line which is mostly streetcar but has subway segments.

If successful, additional lines could be added at some point, such as a line up the West Bank of the River, crossing Goose Island on Cherry/Hickory crossing on the barely used pedestrian/rail bridge to Lincoln Yards to the Clybourn station. That would tie West Bucktown to Lincoln Yards, to Goose Island to the former Tribune site to Fulton River/River West to the West Loop, which would be useful for a lot of things. A pipe dream extension would use Cortland all the way to the Western Blue Line station, though, as I say, that would be a pipe dream but if it happened there would finally be a tie from WP to LP and as long as long as we're dreaming it would become an independent line using Armitage to the Park with a jog North to Diversey or even Belmont. And potentially Roosevelt segments could be turned into subways, too, if ridership was high enough. Finally, if the Reese/Prairie Shore and Mercy areas get built out, extending the circulator to serve them would be a no-brainer which might eventually torn into extending it down Cottage Grove or Drexel all the way to Hyde Park, helping revive the South Lakefront in conjunction with the Metra Electric turning into the S-Bahn. Looking the Streeterville branch to the McCormick branch through the current ME busway with streetcars might become politically possible if the circulator worked well, too.

So, yeah, it's brilliant because each stage you propose is very strong on its own, and together it's exactly what's needed, and it has a structure that lends itself to useful expansion, too. I admit I still wish a Monroe subway circulator with north/south branches to Streeterville and McCormick was possible, but your solution solves most of the same problems while having broader impact and probably a lower price tag.

SIGSEGV Sep 7, 2020 6:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 9030574)
I don't think it makes sense to send heavy capacity regional lines into parkland where no one lives or works. Museum Campus, McCormick Place, Mag Mile, and NMH are best served by a last-mile connector I call the C-Line:

https://i.imgur.com/qWkWn6W.jpg

I'd say the only thing missing there is an in-fill Blue Line stop connecting to Clinton/Lake.

Mr Downtown Sep 8, 2020 3:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 9034598)
I think this is one of the most intelligent ideas for dramatically improving downtown access and circulation I've ever seen proposed.

That's high praise, and I appreciate it.

I keep thinking that we could start running the C-Line (or 123 bus) next summer by just using the platform hours we're currently using on the 124 and 130 buses. Roosevelt already has bus lanes a good part of the way, and the ones on Canal and Clinton could probably be extended without drawing too much blood. Grand and Illinois would be much tougher, but I don't think running in traffic would prove fatal to the idea.

Phase I of the S-Bahn is also not terribly expensive, requiring only three turnouts and a couple of tail tracks at the terminals. Of course, ADA-compliant stations aren't cheap, but easier for an S-Bahn than for a true metro. I'd run it with European DMUs rather than electrifying any new trackage.

Of course, a Clinton subway will be expensive, but the real estate it benefits could pretty easily be TIFfed for the local match to a hefty federal grant. That can't be said of a Red Line South extension to serve the sewage treatment plant.

orulz Sep 18, 2020 5:41 PM

Very late to this party but I think that S-Bahn plan looks awesome.

One nitpick. I would choose the SWS for a S-Bahn branch over the Rock Island Beverly Branch, given that it bisects a huge swath of the city that is relatively dense, more transit dependent, and yet has no decent rail transit.

Add in some infill stations of course.

ardecila Sep 18, 2020 6:33 PM

^ Curious by what standard the Southwest Side is "dense"... there's a reason it didn't get a rapid transit line until the early 90s (although you can argue chicken and egg - it probably would have developed more densely if it got an L line in 1910 or 1920). Numerical density is only half the story, you also need to look at how people are distributed, SWS kind of skirts the densest parts of Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Gage/Marquette Park, etc with not a lot of apartment buildings around the tracks. Beverly is less dense overall but does have lots of walkable areas with apartments right around the Rock Island.

There are actually some dense areas along SWS in Gage Park and Marquette Park, but it hasn't really translated into ridership thus far. Maybe Metra could increase service once the junction at 75th is rebuilt and the trains shift to LaSalle Station... but remember that SWS isn't grade separated once you cross Kedzie. Lots of high-volume intersections in the suburbs that would get start backing up traffic with frequent trains every 5-10 minutes. Rock Island isn't completely grade separated either but it's much better.

One more thing is that Rock Island is also slated to be the main intercity corridor for Amtrak trains to St Louis and beyond, so you kill two birds with one stone by investing in that corridor.

Randomguy34 Sep 18, 2020 8:40 PM

^ The SWS used to have stations at Western, Ashland, Racine, and Halsted until 1984. Since the line will start running from Lasalle St Station in a couple years, reopening the stations and running frequent service could go a long way to improving transit in the area.


Speaking of frequent service, Metra announced in their board meeting that they're considering several initiatives including frequent all-day service, fare transfers, off-peak pricing. No concrete plans yet other than piloting improved MED and RID, but they plan to do a line-by-line service plan: https://activetrans.org/blog/metra-m...uburban-riders

Edit: some images from the author's twitter

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EiDS54KW...jpg&name=small


https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EiDS54JX...jpg&name=small
Source: https://twitter.com/StarLineChicago/...75797360144385

ardecila Sep 19, 2020 2:07 AM

Yes, also Romayne Brown was promoted to Chairperson of Metra's board... She served at CTA for decades (working her way up to Director of Rail Operations) and absolutely seems like someone who should understand the value of frequent, regular service.

There's such a culture divide between "transit" people and "railroad" people in America that it's great to see a crossover like this - from a woman of color, no less.

Mr Downtown Sep 19, 2020 10:58 PM

The current chair (a friend of mine) is a guy who grew up on the IC and also knows the value of frequent, regular service. It was during his term that schedules were tweaked to give Hyde Park 20-minute service most of the day, and fares from city stations reduced.

But people forget that the Great Schism of 1983 gives ALL city tax support to CTA. Metra gets not one dime from residents of Chicago, except any fares they might pay. Selling a bunch of Chicagoans seats to ride a few miles at half the cost of providing those seats is just not a smart move, especially if it leaves those who actually pay the bills standing in the aisles leaving Ogilvie. (Well, we can dream that such days come again.)

The South Cook Fair Transit Pilot Project (organized by another friend) looks very promising, but it's not Metra who's been standing in the way of that. It's CTA.

ardecila Sep 21, 2020 3:36 PM

Yes, the insane turf battles cut both ways, nobody is blameless here. I don't know Metra or CTA leadership well enough to call out any specific bad-transit attitudes recently, and a lot of it comes from electeds. When Pat Quinn's panel suggested reforming the structure of RTA to allow more regional cooperation between service boards, it was Mayor Emanuel who told the panel to go piss off. Clearly he didn't want to surrender any measure of control over CTA, even if the city stood to gain better service from Metra in the process.

As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)

emathias Sep 27, 2020 4:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9048616)
...
As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)

I'd love to see at least the busiest Metras lines given cars more like Caltrain in the Bay Area. Maybe not as rapid transit-like as Paris' RER but less like the current Metra cars.

VivaLFuego Oct 1, 2020 4:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9048616)
As for "standing in the aisles" - that's just a fact of life for urban rail service. Standing was very common on the regional rail systems I used in Europe (RER, FL Lazio, etc), at least at peak times, and even sometimes on intercity trains like TGV. The "everyone gets a seat" attitude of commuter rail is hideously expensive and inefficient. I'm not sure there's a good way to sugarcoat this reality.

Ultimately Metra needs to move to a culture more like CTA where able-bodied people stand and reserve seats for elderly and disabled people when required. Having to stand on a train all the way to Libertyville or Joliet is no fun, but realistically longer-haul commuters will find seats quickly as the train thins out. Standing can also be made more pleasant by abandoning the obsolete, 1950s gallery car design (why does each car need fully enclosed vestibules?)

Expectations of comfort also relate to
(1) fare levels (absolute and relative)
(2) desirability of the product relative to alternatives

Expecting many people to stand for a 30-45 minute ride with perhaps ~10-15 minutes of access time at either end and a $6.25 fare each way isn't very competitive if they can just drive 45 minutes in relative comfort and park for $20, with their fixed car ownership costs already covered.

On many lines pre-Covid, I think lots of inbound rush hour trains tended to be pretty close to 100% seated loads by the time they reach zone B, certainly in the more desirable end of the train (i.e. the first 4-5 cars closest to the terminal).

In places where fuel prices and car taxes are much higher, the calculation is a bit different.

Tcmetro Oct 5, 2020 1:07 PM

Pace proposing to make the Covid service reductions permanent for 2021. Pretty much all the Metra shuttles would be gone as well as the express buses between the south and the west/northwest suburbs (757/877/888/895). Some various other service reductions, which I imagine are the same as the current Covid reductions. Will be interesting to see if these are permanent or if these routes would come back as ridership ramps up. I'd imagine that Pace would like to prune some of these routes, because they are generally low performers.

https://www.pacebus.com/news/virtual...ed-2021-budget

ardecila Oct 5, 2020 2:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 9055295)
I'd love to see at least the busiest Metras lines given cars more like Caltrain in the Bay Area. Maybe not as rapid transit-like as Paris' RER but less like the current Metra cars.

Caltrain literally has the exact same cars as Metra! The seating arrangement is a little different and there is more bike storage (surprisingly well used by reverse commuters to get to dispersed Silicon Valley jobs).

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 9060381)
Expectations of comfort also relate to
(1) fare levels (absolute and relative)
(2) desirability of the product relative to alternatives

Expecting many people to stand for a 30-45 minute ride with perhaps ~10-15 minutes of access time at either end and a $6.25 fare each way isn't very competitive if they can just drive 45 minutes in relative comfort and park for $20, with their fixed car ownership costs already covered.

On many lines pre-Covid, I think lots of inbound rush hour trains tended to be pretty close to 100% seated loads by the time they reach zone B, certainly in the more desirable end of the train (i.e. the first 4-5 cars closest to the terminal).

In places where fuel prices and car taxes are much higher, the calculation is a bit different.


In my years of riding UPNW I always saw standing passengers going to/from Zone B or even Zone C. Not uncommon for Edison Park passengers to stand. It was actually worse off-peak since trains only ran hourly with strong demand and made all stops... the rush hour trains tend to be targeted at certain zones and ran express past others, so Zone B/C passengers would seek out certain trains over others.

I do think the Metra fares should probably come down a bit if it is moving to a regional rail model (i.e. true public transit), which of course means a deeper public subsidy. Right now the fares seem deliberately priced to keep out low-income riders.

the urban politician Oct 8, 2020 7:40 PM

A nice and brief update on NW Indiana’s transportation projects:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/crai...thwest-indiana

Quote:

Two big rail projects are right on track.

The new eight-mile West Lake extension of the commuter South Shore Line will run from the Illinois-Indiana border in north Hammond to the Munster/Dyer border. The $933 million project is being financed by state, local, and federal funds. Approval of the federal funds is expected within weeks.


Four new rail stations will be built along the West Lake line. This includes a gateway station in Hammond.

"Our overarching goal is to develop real estate near the rail stations," Hanna says. New development zones are being created adjacent to the rail stations. The zones will eventually provide revenue for further public improvements such as roads and utilities.

Hanna notes that Northwest Indiana is a desirable location for families. The area offers a good quality of life with low taxes, excellent schools, reasonably priced housing, and proximity to Lake Michigan.


Mike Noland, president of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Construction of the West Lake project is expected to begin in 2021, with completion in February 2025. The new rail line will serve 7,000 riders a day.

"Connecting the business community and citizens of Northwest Indiana
Looks like there is still a strong push to expand and improve the rail connection to Chicago, as well as create more housing opportunities around new stations

ardecila Oct 9, 2020 4:41 AM

West Lake is good to see I guess, but it's just another sprawl feeder. I guess maybe it can get a few downtown commuters to switch to rail? And it's electrified so there's an environmental benefit.

Despite what the article says, the TOD plans around the stations are kind of a joke... Hammond WOULD be a good TOD site, but they're moving the station even further from downtown (home of the fantastic 18th Street Brewery) and tearing down several blocks of houses, urban-renewal style. :facepalm: Guess I'll just keep biking from the city for those sweet brews...

OhioGuy Oct 9, 2020 6:49 AM

^^ Yeah I think it’s ridiculous they’re skipping having a station in downtown Hammond.

N830MH Oct 10, 2020 6:44 AM

Hi all,

Here a video of new CTA 7000s series. This is for testing only, but not in service yet.

Video Link

emathias Oct 10, 2020 4:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 9064027)
Caltrain literally has the exact same cars as Metra! The seating arrangement is a little different and there is more bike storage (surprisingly well used by reverse commuters to get to dispersed Silicon Valley jobs).

...

They used to, and maybe some still are, but the last two times I was there they had cars that I rode in more like Toronto's GO trains.


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