Today’s Headlines

  • CTA Upgrading Red and Blue Tunnels to 4G Service (Tribune)
  • Editorial: Madigan’s Metra Meddling Is a Lesson in How Clout Works (Sun-Times)
  • LaHood to Head Chicago Aviation Chief Search Committee (Tribune)
  • In the Wake of “South LSD Extension” Mariano’s Opening at Former U.S. Steel Site (DNA)
  • Man Pleads Guilty to DUI After Fatal Barrington Hills Crash (Tribune)
  • Police Sergeant Injured in 2-Car Crash in Washington Park Neighborhood (DNA)
  • Ped Bridge Will Let Kids to Walk to School, Saving District Money on Busing (Active Trans)
  • Suburban Fire Departments Charging Visitors for Responding to Car Emergencies (NBC)
  • Transit Nexus Looks at John Krause’s Proposal for an LSD Streetcar
  • Timber! Section of 53rd in Hyde Park Closed After Truck Fells Tree (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Corn Dog Aficionado

    Streetcars are a huge waste of money because they offer neither the flexibilty of a bus nor the right of way of a train, among numerous other reasons of why they are garbage. Just look at Cincinnati or Washington DC and their streetcar fiascoes. There are so many better ways to spend transit money, including doing nothing. Doing nothing is actually better than building a streetcar.

  • BlueFairlane

    While I tend to resist the streetcar bandwagon, the fiasco in Cincinnati is related more to politics than design. The thing hasn’t even started rolling yet, so you can’t really say anything about how it may or may not function.

  • skyrefuge

    Barrington Hills, not Heights. While there is a Barrington, a North Barrington, a South Barrington, a Lake Barrington, a Port Barrington, and a Barrington Hills, there is no Barrington Heights (at least not yet!) Incidentally, Barrington Hills is an awesome cycling mecca! (excluding Rt. 59, where that DUI crash occured)

  • BlueFairlane

    I find myself with a sudden urge to figure out who Barrington was.

  • Fixed, thanks.

  • Pat

    Living in Milan, I found streetcars to be an excellent way to get around. Most had dedicated signals (especially when making turns on to perpendicular streets) and often times cut through parks or parkways. I do agree though that on a two lane street they would be useless. However, if they run in the middle with outer lanes for cars and such, they are quite efficient and when run on overhead wires are far less noisy then a bus.

  • Anne A

    That University Park ped bridge sounds like a huge win for the community and a good use of Safe Routes funding.

  • Anne A

    The more messes Madigan causes, the more I wish we had term limits.

  • FG

    Streetcars definitely have their place in Chicago, but I don’t see it on Lake Shore Drive, it just smacks of serving the “lakefront elite.” A streetcar would make sense on Clark and Broadway where it would serve riders on more than just Sheridan Road.

    Where would I like to see LRT? Along some of the former streetcar routes which have become heavily used bus routes, rather than replicating or duplicating parallel corridors. An example would be along Western from the Plaza up to the future Yellow Line station just past Howard. There are probably some even better corridors to areas which need rail service before the lakefront needs additional service.

    And I would love to see Trolleybuses brought back too, especially on these BRT proposals. FYI trolleybuses are electric buses which pull power from overhead lines.

  • R.A. Stewart

    I’m generally not a fan of term limits, and would rather see limits on how many terms a legislator can serve in a leadership position, as the Trib’s Eric Zorn has suggested. But that is never going to happen, so I’m starting to think term limits are the lesser evil.

    Realistically, though, what will end Madigan’s reign is the inevitable eventual takeover of Illinois by tea-party-style Republicans à la Wisconsin. Then I’ll be reminding myself, “Be careful what you wish for.”

  • R.A. Stewart

    I’d love to see that Western Avenue line, although I don’t know if I, my children, or my grandchildren will live to see even the Yellow Line station.

    And anything—anything—that would bring rail transit out to all the neighborhoods now relying on slow, sparse, and unreliable buses, and start turning CTA rapid transit into a real citywide network. Not holding my breath, though.

  • Anne A

    Limiting time in leadership could be a reasonable compromise, but that probably won’t happen until the Madman is 6 feet under. Believe me, I am NOT wishing for a Tea Party takeover. That could be enough to motivate me to move out of state and start over somewhere saner.

  • R.A. Stewart

    Believe me, I am NOT wishing for a Tea Party takeover.

    Oh, I know that! As for being six feet under, I’m starting to think Madigan is almost immortal, like those old southern segregationists who kept being re-elected to the Senate until they were 150 or so.

  • Corn Dog Aficionado

    He has power in a large part thanks to his UNION cronies who he is sure to take care of with fat contracts.

  • Anne A

    Or a political vampire. ;)

  • Corn Dog Aficionado

    How is any of that better than a bus? All it does is cost more money.

  • I’d call that plan a “streecar” only in that it runs at grade level. It doesn’t have the usual streetcar issues of cars being allowed to drive on its concrete.

  • Rail costs significantly less than busses in the long run because operating costs are a fraction (internal-combustion engines break easily and often, compared to pure-electric motors) and each individual vehicle (a) carries far more passengers and (b) lasts about five times longer in service.

    The rails are more expensive to lay than simply using existing pavement, but cities have found recently that if you’re already digging up the street (for sewer work, say, or to make a “BRT-ish” special strip of pavement of some sort), rail costs are on par with the repaving needed for busses.

  • Corn Dog Aficionado

    I suppose, plus you get to eliminate labor costs plus increase safety with trains by automating the whole system and eliminating human operators.

  • Even if you don’t automate completely, one driver per train (each of whose cars carries 2-5 busses worth of people — and Chicago often runs 6-8 car trains!) is better than one driver per bus for the same ridership, labor-costs-wise. Even a driver and a conductor/customer service rep per train is a saving.

  • FG

    Well, there seems to be well documented research that people will abandon cars more frequently for rail than for bus options. The other advantage of doing LRT would be the ability for it to run through tunneled sections avoiding (and decongesting – is that even a word) intersections, also enabling pedestrian plazas to be created above them and having fare-card free transfers with underground or raised stations, such as when it intersected an el line. AND they can be quieter than a bus and a reduction in pollution (or at least centralizing it at a power plant). I also suspect that the lifespan of LRT vehicles is longer than for buses so that is also in their favor.

  • FG

    I don’t think you can eliminate a human operator on LRT or a streetcar running on the street, even in a dedicated right of way reasonably or have that long of a, well, train. But we could certainly move to ATO on the el and move those operators to the LRT system (though I think a human on each train is needed for security and psychological security).

  • Back when there were conductors, having a CTA employee going through the train and keeping an eye on things was really useful. If we go to ATO I’d suggest (like I get to run the world!) the employees be moved to a ‘conductor’-like role throughout the train, which would also leave them available to take over driving if there was some problem with the ATO system.

    I don’t see why (any hypothetical) LSD line couldn’t be just like all the other El stuff — adding the complexity of different equipment to maintain and train drivers to run seems needless to me. Even if there’s no way to shunt equipment easily from one line to another, using all the same equipment is the simpler, more straightforward choice.

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