Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, January 19

  • Kevenides: City Tried to Have Bike Lanes Classified as “Recreational Facilities” to Limit Liability
  • CTA Plans to Add 27 All-Electric, Standard-Size Buses to Its Fleet (Sun-Times)
  • More Coverage of the Campaign for More Frequent Metra Electric Service (DNA)
  • Charges Pending Against Driver in Fatal, Possibly Alcohol-Related NW Side Crash (Sun-Times)
  • Family of Woman Killed by a Home Run Inn Delivery Driver Is Suing the Company (ABC)
  • Man Injured in Shooting on 75th Street Bus (Tribune)
  • $100K Settlement for Courier Who Was Struck From Behind in Lakeview (Keating)
  • Advice for Dealing With Indecent Exposure & Sexual Harassment on the CTA (RedEye)
  • A Map of New Home Construction in Chicago (Curbed)
  • Beverly Folks Who Asked for Divvy Are Bummed That ‘Burbs Are Getting It First (DNA)
  • RedEye Checks Out the New Lakefront Trail Section at Fullerton

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Chicagoan

    Those new buses are looking pretty cool.

    Also, very nice of Mr. Ward to bring the Southside’s aspirations for the Electric District more into the public eye. I think this line is one of the most underutilized assets in the city right now.

    Does there exist any chance that Metra could just, uh, give the line to the CTA? This would be an game-changing asset if it operated with the frequency of a CTA train service.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Interesting idea. One immediate issue that springs to mind is that the stations would have to be retrofitted for turnstile-only access. And, of course, you can’t run ‘L’ cars on the Metra Electric tracks. But why couldn’t the CTA operate a different kind of train on one of its lines? Heck, San Francisco’s transit system seems to employ a zillion different kinds of rolling stock.

  • Chicagoan

    This is the only line in the Metra system where this could happen, right? There’s no freight train interference, all of the stations are elevated (so, turnstiles could be installed), and it’s powered by overhead catenary (“I’m not a smart man, Jenny” … why is overhead catenary a special thing?).

    It’d be expensive, but wow, this would be a game-changing thing if it ever became a CTA train service. Access to Chicago State, the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Pullman, et cetera.

    Sidenote: The Van Buren station entrance is a replica of an Art Nouveau, Hector Guimard-designed Paris Metro station.

    Wikipedia tells me it was a gift from Paris a couple of years ago.

  • what_eva

    Would such frequent service (and being run by the CTA as rapid transit) would be appropriate for the entire line or just parts of it? ie, sure, the South Chicago Branch and maybe the mainline to Kensington, but is there enough ridership on the main line to University Park or on the Blue Island branch?

  • Because of the South Shore line, you’ll pretty much always have to run parts of it as a low-frequency commuter service. The mainline to Kensington and the South Chicago branch have the density and transit connections to support frequent service. This could probably also be stretched down to I-80 on the mainline, especially is connecting bus services are added. The Blue Island branch would require significant track upgrades (in existing ROW) and better land use around the intermediate stations before supporting increased frequencies

  • It’s getting the line transfered from FRA to FTA regulations that’s the main problem. This would be a big bureaucratic hassle, and would require some specific rules for the South Shore line, but is well worth pursuing. This transfer would unfortunately preclude service to O’Hare.

  • Anne A

    Once the Divvy service area expands to the point where it reaches the 19th ward, I think it could work fine in Beverly, as long as a sufficient number of stations can be placed within residential areas AND if we can gain enough support among the powers that be to get some bike infrastructure improvements. The ward needs to become a bit more bike friendly first.

    If station locations are limited to business districts, Metra stations and publicly owned land, this would severely limit Divvy’s effectiveness. Lots of folks in Beverly don’t seem to understand how the Divvy system works and that it’s most effective as part of a much larger network. Evanston and Oak Park are each a LOT closer to the existing service area than Beverly, where the nearest station is several miles away.

  • Even Oak Park is far away relatively. It will be interesting to see data on Chicago to Oak Park trips.

  • Roland Solinski

    Not sure why Metra Electric needs to change oversight. I mean, FRA has a ton of ridiculous regulations but Metra Electric already meets them. All you need to do at first is run the trains more frequently.

    Really the most logical way to operate the line is proof-of-payment instead of turnstiles. Most light rail lines in America already operate with this style of system and many metro lines in Europe. Basically the conductor goes from checking everyone’s ticket, to doing only random checks and then writing tickets for those who forgot to pay instead of throwing them off the train.

  • The operating cost of a Metra electric train is more than double that of a CTA train. Switching oversight allows one to skip brake tests, eliminate conductors on every train, purchase less expensive rolling stock in the future, and allow the CTA (a non-FRA regulated agency) to run the system.

  • Anne A

    I will also be curious to see Chicago to Oak Park trip data.

    While Oak Park isn’t right next door to Garfield Park, it’s a LOT closer than the 6+ mile distance between 69th & Halsted (nearest corner of current Divvy service area) and most locations in the 19th ward.

  • planetshwoop

    I could imagine that Oak Park could support Divvy because there would be a fair amount of intra-OP traffic since it has a lot of tourists. Divvy from the Green Line to the FLW district is the most obvious.

  • Cameron Puetz

    There are no freight trains on Metra’s tracks, but mixing commuter rail like the South Shore with rapid transit trains would pose similar challenges. The overhead catenary is important because it means the electric infrastructure is already there. Although it would either have to be conveyed to third rail or CTA would need catenary powered trains. The CTA used to use catenary power on the yellow line. The Brown Line cars with platforms on the roof are the former catenary powered cars.

  • Anne A

    That seems like a natural to me. They’re also doing a good job with bike infrastructure, as is Evanston. That’s an area where the 19th ward is rather lacking.

    Crossing major barriers within the ward (95th, Western, 111th, N-S railroad tracks/golf courses/cemeteries W of Western, etc.) is a major hindrance to bike traffic between different areas of the ward. Protected bike lanes could be the best solutions for some of these obstacles. Other areas could be well suited to neighborhood greenways and other treatments.

  • planetshwoop

    The issue with Metra is the possibility of increased frequencies. It doesn’t have to be every 10 minutes like the CTA, but *most* Metra lines manage every 30 minutes during rush hour. Having 30 minute service during most of the day would go a long way.

  • Cameron Puetz

    The Metra Electric right of way has a lot of space, and 6 tracks most of the way. The most straight forward option would be to turn over two of the tracks on the busiest sections to the CTA and create a set up similar to the Purple Line and UP-N in Evanston or the Green Line and UP-W in Oak Park. The South Shore and Metra Electric could continue to provide commuter trains to further out destinations, and frequent rapid transit could be added to the denser part of the line. A handful of stations could have fast Metra service and frequent CTA service similar to Jefferson Park.

  • Chicagoan

    This sounds perfect. Is this idea being discussed?

    It should be.

  • Yes the ROW has a lot of space and 6 tracks, but Metra owns only 4 of those tracks and the land underneath them.

  • Different power considerations. I’m trying to find the thread where this was already discussed.

  • The ME should be switched to Paired-by-Use operation to make this work. That means constructing new side platforms at all of the intermediate stations, and doing some significant track rebuilding at 71st St. However, putting the local tracks on the west would avoid at-grade conflicts with suburban trains, especially at Millenium Station.

  • Well here Jennifer is a plan to use the existing infrastructure with very little modification: http://bit.ly/GrayLineInfo

  • Boston, New York, and Philadelphia all have Transit lines operated with different non-interchangable rolling stock, all within the same system. (London and Paris too)

  • Cost estimate fb…..?

  • Since all the local platforms need rebuilding anyways (~ $20 million per platform), that cost is already largely included. The expensive additional parts are resignalling and track work around 71st St, probably around the $100 million mark. Additional track work to make the downtown portion and Kensington 4-tracked would also be nice.

    This isn’t work required to get service up and running, but it should be included in longer-term plans, especially if resignalling, platform widening, or track work are planned anyways. It should also eliminate the need for the ridiculously expensive upgrades to Millennium Station that were being hinted at in the South Lakefront Service Plan from a few years ago.

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