New CTA buses and mid-life overhaul of more than 1,000 vehicles will avoid dismal situation 6 years ago

A 4400-series TMC RTS bus on State Street. Photo by Kevin Zolkiwicz.

I arrived in Chicago in 2006 to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago for a sociology and urban planning degree. I visited home in Batavia, Illinois, quite often. I took route 60-Blue Island/26th from campus to Northwestern Station to catch the Union Pacific-West line to Geneva. I distinctly remember how decrepit these buses were (this route seemed to have the oldest ones in the fleet, 4400-series TMC RTS). They lumbered; they were dark inside; they had stairs to climb aboard; passengers who wanted or needed to use the ramp had to spend several minutes waiting for the ramp to deploy and then be elevated.* I don’t know how much was just old design, no upgrades being made, or broken down equipment.

That was at a time of major service cuts, fare hikes, and deliberations about new legislation determining how to fund the Regional Transportation Authority and the three service boards it oversees (Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace).

The Chicago Transit Authority made announcements this year that should ensure this won’t happen again. Continue reading New CTA buses and mid-life overhaul of more than 1,000 vehicles will avoid dismal situation 6 years ago

Progression of bike sharing RFP: deadline is approaching


Madison, Wisconsin, has a B-Cycle bike sharing system. B-Cycle is likely to submit a proposal. Photo by Jeramey Jannene. 

Updated October 16, 2011, to add more information about the station selection task order and provide it for download. 

Proposals for Chicago’s large scale bike sharing system are due to the City of Chicago on or before October 25 – that’s 12 days away! The request for proposals (RFP) was issued on September 21, 2011. I and 29 others attended the pre-proposal conference a week later at City Hall (121 N LaSalle St) on September 28 to meet with Jacoby Radford, contract negotiator with the Department of Procurement Services (DPS), Scott Kubly, the head of the bike sharing project at the Department of Transportation (CDOT), and Ben Gomberg, Bicycle Program coordinator (CDOT).

It seemed that the purpose of the meeting was to get know who vendors would be working with at the City and who they would be up against in the proposal process. Some new information was provided, and Scott explained the City’s aims in building a bike sharing system. But any answers given by the City to attendees were “not official”. Questions had to be submitted in writing after which the City would respond with an RFP addendum. Continue reading Progression of bike sharing RFP: deadline is approaching

Bike sharing will come to Chicago in 2012


What bike sharing might look like on the streets of Chicago. Photo of Capital BikeShare, in Washington, D.C., by M.V. Jantzen. 

Updated 11:11 AM: I should have mentioned originally that I believe this is a good idea for Chicago, and the RFP presents a solid plan on how the City expects it to be implemented and operated. 22:46: Added more information about potential bidders, Alta Bicycle Share and B-Cycle. 

I just finished reading the request for proposals (RFP) for Chicago’s first (er, second) bike sharing program. For the uninitiated, most bike sharing programs allow members unlimited free trips per day up to 30 minutes with a low fee for each 30 minute period after that. Locks are not provided so users are expected to secure the bikes by docking them at stations rather than locking them to bike racks or sign poles.

Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and his managing deputy commissioner Scott Kubly together launched a 1,100 bikes and 100+ stations bike sharing system in September 2010. It had its one year birthday on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Now the pair have come to Chicago to do it again. Continue reading Bike sharing will come to Chicago in 2012