What is regional transit? RTA undertaking its own strategic plan update process


It’s rare to see CTA and Metra signs in the same place. The LaSalle Intermodal Transfer Center at LaSalle Street and Congress Parkway is a great step in making transit work “regionally”: it connects Rock Island District trains and multiple bus routes. It provides weak signage directing riders to the Jackson Blue Line station one block away. Photo by Anne Alt. 

“The Regional Transportation Authority values input of how to better the regional transit system. The RTA is conducting a survey to help gather ideas to inform the strategic planning process.” This quote is from its website promoting the process.

In August we published an article from two guest contributors about Metra and its own strategic plan update process. One critique was that Metra was doing this independently of the other “service boards” (Chicago Transit Authority and Pace) and its parent organization, RTA. You can provide your input on their strategic planning process with an online survey through January 25, 2013.

I reached out to RTA to understand why, again, there is an organization doing this planning process alone.

In a nutshell, there are separate (coordinated, not independent) strategic planning processes that are undertaken by the individual agencies because transit aims to strike a balance between addressing long-term, regional concerns and more near-term, local needs.

The scope of Service Board strategic planning initiatives usually encompasses operating and service provision issues—issues for which the service boards are experts. For example, this might include developing or revising service planning standards—at what level of demand should we increase service or build an infill station? Does the agency have enough reliable vehicles in its fleet to provide the desired levels of service envisioned for the next 2-3 years? These are the nature of issues for which the service boards have the most experience and local knowledge by which to develop plans and policies.

Continue reading What is regional transit? RTA undertaking its own strategic plan update process

flattr this!

Transportation grad students offer advice to Metra for its strategic plan


A Rock Island Metra train travels near 16th Street, alongside Clark Street. Photo by Mickey Brown.

Ed. note: Ted Rosenbaum is originally from Evanston and Brian Derstine from Darien. Both obtained a master’s in transportation engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. They currently work on public transportation and ITS-related projects in the San Francisco Bay area. Follw them @RedTosenbaum and @baderstine. Their opinions are their own, and are independent of their employers. -Steven

August 10, 2012

To whom it may concern:

We, the undersigned, are excited to see Metra undertake serious long-range strategic planning. For too long, Metra’s actions have been inefficient, opaque, and focused on short-term tactics rather than long-term strategy. The strength of the Chicagoland area is inextricably tied to the ability of its transportation network to move people and goods throughout the region. As Chicago’s commuter rail agency, Metra plays a vital role in this transportation network and in the region’s continued good health, and we long to see it—and the region—succeed. We therefore present the letter below as formal comments to the strategic planning and visioning process. It is divided into three sections: (1) a response to the “Draft Mission Statement” included in the public survey recently posted on Metra’s website; (2) a response to the “Draft Vision Statement” included in the same survey; and (3) various other strategies—and some tactics—we feel it is in Metra’s best interests to prioritize.

Continue reading Transportation grad students offer advice to Metra for its strategic plan

flattr this!

Metra seeks public input to develop first strategic plan in decades


A Rock Island Metra train heading towards Blue Island across 95th Street in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Zoline. 

From a Metra news release:

Furthering its goal of soliciting input and engaging in dialogue with its major stakeholders, Metra is asking its riders, the public, elected officials and others for their help as it begins to craft its first strategic plan in several decades. You can offer input by coming out to one of our public open house forums [calendar below] throughout the region. You can also provide input by completing a short survey actively available here from 7/2/12 until 8/10/12.

All meeting materials are on the Strategic Plan webpage.

Tuesday, July 10, 4 PM – 7 PM
Board Room, 13th Floor
547 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60661 Continue reading Metra seeks public input to develop first strategic plan in decades

flattr this!