Mayor Emanuel shaking hands at the 95th Street station, the current terminal on the Red Line Dan Ryan branch. Photo by slow911.
Rahm Emanuel said he would help the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) find whatever money possible to fund an extension of the Red Line’s Dan Ryan branch to 130th Street. That project will have four new stations (view map); the construction will most likely be majority paid for by the federal government (the capital costs). But the federal government won’t pay for the CTA’s new costs from operating the extension. Or any operating costs (note 1). The CTA and Mayor Emanuel are also pursuing bus rapid transit (BRT), a faster moving bus route. Continue reading Would residents of northeastern Illinois tax themselves for transit?
A Chicago Transit Authority bus in 1968 on Irving Park Road. The bus has since been replaced.
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For question 9, “Please *rank* the following transit priorities in order of importance,” I ranked them in the following order:
- Speeding up transit travel. I think this, along with frequent service, are the best two ways to increase ridership. People don’t want to wait for the bus or train to come, and they don’t want to be on that bus or train for long. To speed up buses, there’s one strategy we can implement that will have the highest effect: reduce the number of non-bus vehicles on the road, starting with what we have the most of, singly occupied automobiles.
- Adding new transit routes. If this means installing bus rapid transit (BRT), or some semblance of that, I want it. I also think the Red Line to 130th Street is a good idea. I also like Metra’s plan for the STAR Line.
- Increasing the frequency of service. See #1 above.
- Extending the hours of service. I think the hours are mostly pretty good, but the frequency at off-peak hours should be increased.
- Other. I think the way bicycles are stored on trains (both CTA and Metra) should be improved. Read how.
- Keeping fares low. I think they’re pretty low to begin with. I’d like the Chicago Card/Plus bonus to come back. I think this will encourage more adoption of the stored-value RFID cards and that adoption will stick around when universal fare and media system comes around in 2015. Metra fares seem high, though.
- Improving safety. Isn’t the CTA pretty safe? You’re definitely safer riding a bus or train than bicycling, walking, or driving/riding in an automobile.
For question 12, “Please tell us about the most pleasant or helpful experience you’ve had while riding public transportation.”, I answered,
When it starts raining or when my bicycle cannot be ridden, I always appreciate being able to take it on a CTA bus or train to the bike shop or to home.
For question 13, “If you had one message for your transit agency or elected officials for public transportation in Chicagoland, what would it be?”, I submitted,
Dissolve the RTA and create a new agency that replaces all three service boards.
With a single agency managing all transit in Chicagoland, duplicative efforts would be (theoretically) eliminated. For examples to follow, see Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (MTA). They operate buses and trains (both rapid transit and regional rail) in 12 counties in New York (including all 5 boroughs) and two counties in Connecticut, as well as seven toll bridges and two tunnels.
Grid Bits is a new series I’m experimenting with – it comes in the same vein as Grid Shots. While Shots features photos our Flickr group contributors take, Bits is a collection of abstracts on diverse topics around Chicagoland. Each paragraph is a new story.
Photo of project advertisement in front of the future Oakton Street station.
Continue reading Grid Bits: Tolls rising, BRT on Western, Andersonville needs bike parking
[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago.]
Traditionally the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has focused on making it easier to drive in the city, but new commissioner Gabe Klein has a different philosophy. Klein, a former executive with national retailer Bikes U.S.A., as well as Zipcar car sharing, came to town fresh from a stint as transportation director for Washington, D.C. There he launched a streetcar system, installed about 100 leading pedestrian interval traffic signals, introduced a circulator bus route and built the nation’s largest bike-sharing system.
Klein and Mayor Emanuel are promising big improvements to walking, biking and transit here, including building the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway, creating 100 miles of car-protected bike lanes, and rolling out a robust bike sharing system. They’re also working on creating bus rapid transit corridors and considering novel approaches to improve conditions for walking, including “pedestrian scramble” intersections.
I recently met with Klein, 40, in his CDOT offices, where he’d parked the bike he rode in on, a single-speed Masi cruiser with a beer-carrying crate. He discussed possible locations for ped scrambles and bus rapid transit corridors, the feasibility of the Bloomingdale and bike lane projects, the possibility of reopening the Queen’s Landing crosswalk, and whether he’d ever consider riding in Critical Mass.
Continue reading An interview with CDOT’s Gabe Klein