Paul Nowicki, assistant vice president of government and policy at BNSF and MPC board member, speaks before breakfast on one of his company’s executive inspection trains. Photos by Ryan Griffin-Stegink, courtesy of Metropolitan Planning Council.
I had breakfast this morning with planning and railroad industry folks on a BNSF Railway train built a few decades ago to celebrate the release of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Union Station Master Plan Study. The breakfast was hosted by BNSF (operator of the Metra BNSF Railway to Aurora, Illinois) and Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), one of the plan’s many partners.
Download the entire study (6 MB .pdf), or view it in parts on the Master Plan’s official website. Read MPC’s blog about the project. Continue reading Quickly: Union Station Master Plan study released today at breakfast on vintage train
Before view at Chicago Avenue and Western Avenue in West Town.
After view at Chicago and Western.
Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) provided high-resolution images of their renderings of what bus rapid transit (BRT) might look like in Chicago, specifically on two routes they recommend in their August 2011 study report. The renderings were created by Booth Hansen and MPC. See more photos after the jump. Continue reading What bus rapid transit might look like on Western Avenue and Garfield Boulevard
Chicagoans inspect the presentation boards at the open house.
As part of the federal public planning process, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is required to hold at least one public meeting for any project funded by federal grants. This is the case with the Central Loop BRT project for which an open house was held Wednesday, May 2, 2012. CDOT requests comments about the project, to go on public record and to be included in a submission to the federal government, to be submitted by May 9.
You can email your comments to CentralLoopBRT@cityofchicago.org. To help you prepare a comment, the following materials and information is being provided:
What is BRT?
In as few words as possible, it’s a bus system that offers the some of the advantages associated with rail service.
From CDOT’s fact sheet handed out at the open house, “BRT is a term applied to a variety of bus service designs that help provide faster, more efficient and more reliable services than an ordinary bus line.” “True” or “gold standard” BRT systems include these four critical elements:
- Dedicated lanes that no other motor vehicles can use. The Central Loop BRT project will have dedicated bus lanes with tinted pavement.
- Off-board fare collection. you pay before you get on the bus to speed boarding. This will not be present in the Chicago projects.
- Signal priority at intersections, letting the bus go first when it’s green. The Central Loop BRT project will have this.
- Level boarding. No stepping up or down from the bus to the street. Of the three scenarios, the “Basic” scenario would not have this. “Balanced” and “Focused” would.
Continue reading BRT update: what you should know before the comment period ends Wednesday
In the future, you may receive a bill that shows you a map of where you drove and how much you owe. The map above shows an actual, circuitous route I took from Avondale to the Loop, and was generated by a GPS device I carry.
This is part two of two about a seminar in October about infrastructure funding and financing held by the Metropolitan Planning Council at their office at 140 S Dearborn. The first article talked about innovative ways to fund construction of highways, airports, transit, and other capital-intensive projects. The final speaker, Dr. Paul Hanley from the University of Iowa, talked about charging drivers based not on how much gas they use, but the distance they drive. This is known under several names but here I’ll be using “mileage charge” (see note 1).
A mileage charge can make up for the loss of gas tax revenues that’s happening because of an improvement in cars’ fuel efficiency, and that Americans as a whole are driving less. It would also charge those who drive electric cars; the current gas tax system, in essence, has those who drive the least efficient automobiles pay more for 100 miles of driving on roads than those with the most efficient automobiles. Each jurisdiction you drive through could have a different charge, similar to how each state, county, and city can charge a different rate for gas taxes (see note 2). Continue reading Replacing the gas tax with distance-based charging
The Metropolitan Planning Council graciously provided me with a free entry to a seminar in October about infrastructure funding and financing at their office at 140 S Dearborn. The seminar featured Rob Puentes of the Brookings Institution, Illinois Senator Heather Stearns, and Dr. Paul Hanley a professor at the University of Iowa. They talked about three innovative ways to fund construction of highways, airports, transit, and other capital-intensive projects: the surface transportation bill (Puentes), public-private partnerships (Stearns), and distance-based taxing (Hanley).
This article will be presented in two parts: presentations from Puentes and Stearns today, and Hanley on Friday. It is my intention that by presenting that discussion to readers, you can learn about some of the ways infrastructure in the United States is paid for.
Continue reading Innovative financing for transportation infrastructure, notes from a seminar
Enrique Peñalosa rides his bike. Photo by Colin Hughes.
I wish I was there to hear Enrique Peñalosa speak to the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian Safety on August 17th. He’s now the director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which I liken to an international version of Chicago’s own Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Prior to ITDP, he was a mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, where he built a world-renowned bus rapid transit (BRT) called TransMilenio and hundreds of kilometers of bike paths.
Why was he in Chicago? Continue reading A transportation definition of democracy