Deconstructing That Whiny “Goodbye Chicago” Post From a Transportation Perspective

Post author Eric Barry, who apparently had an awful time biking and riding transit in Chicago. Photo: Huffington Post
Post author Eric Barry, who apparently had an awful time biking and riding transit in Chicago. Photo: Huffington Post

I realize that probably too much digital ink has already been spilled over that recently published airing of grievances against Chicago by some dude who moved to our city from San Francisco, lived here for three years, didn’t get the hang of it, and then split for New York. Ridicule of the author is blowing up my social media feeds, and a Streetsblog Chicago reader already requested that I remove a link to the article from our morning headline stack due to some misogynist content.

But sorry folks, it’s late Friday afternoon and I can’t resist critiquing the piece from within my particular wheelhouse, sustainable transportation and urban planning. Yes, it’s irritating that the guy puts Chicago down because he couldn’t locate any affordable Lagunitas (not even at the company’s South Side brewpub?) and found the city to be socially conservative, even though he claims it’s “the liberal beacon of the Midwest.” (That’s Minneapolis, bro.) However, what I found most annoying was his complaint that Chicago is a hostile city for car-free living.

In fairness, I myself found our city to be an acquired taste when I first moved here, and it took a few years until I was truly comfortable navigating its 227 square miles on foot, bike, and CTA. Moreover, it’s unfortunate that within three years the author suffered one (presumably bike) crash where his jaw was broken and he lost some teeth, another where a jeep driver “gunned it out of a stop sign” and T-boned him, and a third incident where he slid off his cycle on the icy Lakefront Trail and into frigid Lake Michigan. But lets look at some of his other transportation beefs.

Residents will tell you Chicago’s public transit is amazing. They won’t mention an entirely non-existent east-west ‘L’ line on the North Side, or lack of bus transfers, or lines that don’t run at night, or that if they don’t own a car, the person they’re dating most certainly does.

Well, our city probably has the second-best transit system in the country after New York, especially if you factor in the extensive Metra regional commuter rail system and South Shore Line service to Indiana. But, sure, there’s room for improvement.

Certainly, more east-west and north-south CTA ‘L’ train lines would be a huge upgrade, which is something local advocates have recently been lobbying for via the Transit Future funding campaign. While there’s plentiful east-west bus service on the North Side and elsewhere, we definitely should be speeding up service on more CTA bus lines with timesaving features like dedicated lanes, prepaid boarding, and transit signal prioritization.

Come on, Dog, the Chicago region's transit coverage isn't perfect, but certainly doesn't suck. Image: Google Maps
Come on, Dog, the Chicago region’s transit coverage isn’t perfect, but certainly doesn’t suck. Olive-green lines are Metra commuter rail, other colors are CTA ‘L’ train routes. Image: Google Maps

But actually, the CTA does offer bus transfers if you use the Ventra payment card, which most customers are already doing. True, some bus and ‘L’ lines don’t run 24 hours, although many major bus routes and the Red and Blue lines do. But give me a break, Mr. San Francisco Expat, BART service between SF and the East Bay shuts down at midnight. Since you can’t walk or bike across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, that means there are no car-free option for making that key commute after hours, save for a long bus ride.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m friendly with tons of local couples and families in Chicago who don’t own cars. Chicago has the seventh-lowest rate of car ownership of major U.S. cities, with 28 percent of households car-free. Although it certainly varies depending on which neighborhood you live in, this is a fairly easy place to get around without owning an automobile, especially with the advent of ride-share.

Then there are the author’s gripes about density:

It’s a big city, and more importantly a very spread out one. Its population density is low for a major city. You can’t always walk to your grocery store. You can’t always walk to a busy strip of bars. And whatever friends you do make, you most probably cannot walk to them.

Yes, Chicago is less dense than New York or San Francisco. Certainly food and retail deserts are a major problem in large segments of the South and West sides, and we need to do more to address that issue. But Chicago’s population density is not low for a major U.S. city. It’s the fourth-densest in the country with 11,868 residents per square mile, just after Boston. We’ve certainly got our fair share of bustling, walkable shopping and nightlife districts compared to peer cities. As for making friends with people who live in your neighborhood, that’s up to you, of course.

So, sorry man, but if you had a lousy time in Chicago due your transportation and logistical challenges, it’s probably not us, it’s you.

  • Rich Evans

    Car-free here since ’95.

  • Jeremy

    Regarding density, he was talking about average density of the entire city. Anyone who has lived in Chicago for 3 weeks, let alone 3 years, knows that some neighborhoods are denser than others. Judging by his photo (and entitled attitude) I bet he lived in one of the densest neighborhoods in the city.

  • Randy Baxley

    I would say do not vilify the writer. Almost like blaming the cyclist for being where a car hit them. Chicago has work to do in transit and walk-ability. Every major city does. Please be patient with new folks whose ears have not yet tuned to the local dialects, idioms and ways. Do you remember the Star Trek episode where they thought a ship was empty but kept hearing mosquito like buzzing. The ships residents were just moving so fast that the Trek folks just could not see or understand them. Chicago often felt that way for me. That and straight lines on maps and directions to L or other places that are 3D but directions are 2D can really leave a newbie in the cold.

  • I have lived in Chicago for 80% of my life thus far, and I have NEVER owned a car or even had a driver’s license. As a cyclist I can understand how dangerous and harsh the streets can be, but there is literally no complaint about getting around Chicago. It sounds more like this guy wanted to ride the EL and never get on the bus. Because the bus can take you ANYWHERE. Sure 2 miles can feel like 20 in our diverse city, but it’s still only two miles. I am just curious about where this guy lived that was so incredibly distant from food, bars and walk/bikeable access to the amazing things Chicago has to offer?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yeah, I tried not to get too personal here. But as far as calling the guy’s post “whiny,” the shoe fits.

  • Urbanbydesign

    I’m a relatively recent transplant to Chicago, I moved here about a year and a half ago from Portland. While I don’t see why this idiot’s post has caused the city to fly into a collective tizzy, I think some of his criticisms pertaining to city infrastructure are valid if you’re an outsider or lived in lots of places in the US or travelled a bit.
    While the transit situation here is far better than in Portland, we’ve still found it nearly impossible to live here without a car. Living car free was one of the reasons we wanted to move here and after about 6 months in we found it too difficult for a lot of different reasons.
    Maybe some close in north side neighborhoods are easier or more navigable, but they’re also too expensive for many. Neighborhoods that are further out suffer from a pretty rigid land use pattern that offers little mix of uses within a neighborhood. Even though the density of our corner of Logan Square is over 12,000/sqmi, there are no corner stores, cafes, restaurants, or services to be found outside of Fullerton or Armitage. With many of the non-bars closing up by 9 or 10pm. The blue line stop is an almost 30 minute walk, and while I understand the criticism of those not wanting to ride the bus as they’re main mode of transportation, it’s also not on time or conventient for those with children in strollers who don’t want to transfer 3 different buses to get where they want to go- often why the L train is nice and far more convenient. For a city of almost 3 million people, the L is a joke. Sorry to say. For a city this size to have a hub and spoke system where you are forced to go all the way down to the loop before you can transfer is minor league. We are bigger than Paris, take a look at their metro system as an example. While Metra is a good supplement it runs every hour or every other hour, and again, heads downtown. So if you miss a train you could be screwed, and your destination needs to be the loop or whichever burb with little transfer options.
    So, for us outsiders it seems like the expectations have been different than the reality. It’s a car focused city, it does have a lot of sprawl, and unless you can afford it, it isn’t as walkable as one would hope. Anyone who’s walked 10 blocks at 11pm without seeing another soul knows what I mean.
    From a planning/policy/development perspective Chicago is decades behind some other municipalities. It’s pro developer, anti preservation, pays lip service (barely) to sustainability, and incorporates for more car oriented thinking into decision making than should be for a major city.
    I could care less about this guy’s social commentary, a place is what you make of it, but I would say that it has been difficult for us to meet people (though we have a toddler so that limits our socializing options), it is more socially conservative than we had realized, there’s enormous animosity between the burbs and the city, there’s a lot of racism, and Chicagoans usually are very defensive about critiques of their city. Usually right after asking why in god’s name we moved here.
    Love living here, regardless, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing out its flaws- my two cents.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    For the record, while the city of Chicago has a somewhat higher population than the city of Paris, the Paris metro region has about 33% more people than Chicagoland.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Metro size that’s true. Take a look at the Berlin subway map – our metro is almost double the size and Berlin is far more extensive. Point being that there is no serious heavy rail transit system when cities of comparable size are taken into account and that Chicago should have when you account for the geographical size of the city limits, not to mention the suburbs.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Also wondering if our system is only 33% smaller or much more so?

  • skelter weeks

    The CTA L lines are mostly all legacy systems. It took them forever to make a SW line (Midway) and to extend the NW line to O’Hare. They need a lot more. As far as walking to places, here’s one example: Lincoln Park is full of people and spending money, but just try walking to the supermarket. You can’t. There aren’t any. All the large stores are on Elston and Clybourn, which means people have to get in their cars and drive. You can’t even see a movie in LP.

  • Jeff H

    Whole Foods on Fullerton, Trader Joe’s on the south side of Diversey. Could be more, but both are solid options before heading over to west Lincoln Park.

  • skelter weeks

    I don’t consider Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s suitable supermarkets. Nor is Big Apple, or Carnival. Should have large, varied selection. Diversey is on the border anyway, just as Clybourn and North Ave are. Jewel and Treasure Island are on or near the border. Mariano’s is in Lakeview, Bucktown and New City. It’s pathetic. Don’t worry, just get in your CAR and motor over!

  • skelter weeks

    Paris is 41 square miles and they have subways all over the place. Chicago? 234 square miles with bupkiss by comparison.

  • Kathy Schubert

    I live in Lincoln Park. I use my bike to my choice of 3 Trader Joes stores within 3 miles radius, 2 Aldis within 1 mile, 3 Treasure Islands including one that’s a walkable distance, 3 Whole Foods, including one that’s walkable and Stanley’s Fruit and Vegetables. Then there are the Jewel/Oscos. There are two or three within biking distance. And I carry up to 30.5 lbs. of food. There are movie theaters also: at Clark&Broadway, Webster Place, Clybourn & Halsted and Facets. Skelter – are you pulling our leg?

  • rduke

    “I don’t consider Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s suitable supermarkets. ”

    uhhhhhhhh I think I found the problem then

  • Urbanbydesign

    Seriously.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    The Paris Metro has almost exactly 33 percent more track miles than the CTA ‘L’, 133 compared to 102.8. Not sure how commuter rail mileage compares. The Metro does have many more stations, 333 compared to 145. No doubt, it’s easier to run a good public transportation system in a dense city, and Chicago isn’t dense by European standards. But it is dense compared to most other major American cities, which is one reason why transit works well here compared to most other U.S. peer cities.

  • johnaustingreenfield
  • Urbanbydesign

    “Transit works well here compared to our peer cities” – I’d love to hear what Chicago peer cities are in the US.
    I’m sure the multiple 2.7 million/~10million city/metro areas are looking forward to the comparison.
    It’s kind of funny that the response is solely in response to the Paris metro and ignoring everything else. So, Paris ridership was 1.5 billion last year. How would you like to quantify that excuse? And also, the commuter lines you ignore for comparison are a frequent and huge backbone of the Paris transit system. If you’ve ever had to travel from CDG to the center then you know that. It’s faaaaaaar more frequent than metra and at least they combine their systems on the same goddamn transit map. Must be ludicrous for visitors here.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Well, population certainly isn’t the only way to define U.S. cities as being peers of Chicago. But let’s we’re talking about cities with a million residents or more. As stated in the post, New York has a better transit system than Chicago. Does anybody want to argue that our city’s transit is less functional than that of Los Angeles, Houston, Philly, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, or San Jose? Keep going down the list by population and, besides San Francisco, Boston and D.C. are just about the only other serious contenders. It’s also worth noting that NYC’s and the District’s systems have been in crisis mode this summer.

  • skelter weeks

    If you look below, you see I’m talking about real supermarkets, with a variety of foods for everyone, not small, ‘specialty grocers’. Examples: Jewel, Mariano’s, Pete’s Fresh Market, etc. Also, places you could walk to. Siting all the large stores on the border, away from where people live, encourages more car driving, not walkability.
    Market Place supermarket was on Diversey. Not large, but they had a variety. It’s gone now due to a new development, not because it failed. There’s a 20,000 square foot space at Webster & Lincoln. The ‘natural foods’ market that was there closed, lending credence to my belief a ‘real’ supermarket would succeed in that location. That would put a supermarket within walking distance of many people.
    Century/Landmark Theaters is in Lakeview, not Lincoln Park. Webster Place is on the border, not in Lincoln Park proper.
    I work in Lincoln Park due to my job, but I choose to live in a place where I can walk/bike to many different places, such as restaurants, grocers, the L, movie theater, etc.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Los Angeles is in the midst of a huge transit expansion, adding miles of subway and light rail, with far reaching goals for their citizenry. Chicago has zero expansion plans in the pipeline, with no transit goals in place. I think NYC had a goal of everyone to be within a 5-10min walk of a subway station. Imagine how transformative that could be for this city.
    Imagine instead of 4 different commuter rail stations separated from one another, there was a central station, maybe a grand central station, where you could take a commuter train and *gasp* transfer to a cta line (or more) all under one roof! I’m sure Chicago used to have it but probably knocked it down to build some shitty pre-fab condos.
    The point is that Chicago does not have a good or extensive subway system, and “for the US” isn’t acceptable.
    Additionally there’s little attention paid to how Chicago’s system encourages and keeps segregation in place. I only lived here for a few months before I heard “I don’t ride the green line”. My jaw dropped. Then I realized that it was a pretty common refrain around here. But, it’s the best system ever and any criticisms of it or Chicago are dumb and should be hated and let’s castigate anyone who points it out.

  • Urbanbydesign

    And yes, I know the red line is being added to, that’s not what I mean by expansion.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, LA is probably the most dynamic U.S. city/region right now in terms of improving their transit system. In fact local leaders invited the mayors of LA and Santa Monica to the kickoff for Chicago’s Transit Future campaign to create a revenue stream for expanding. Those mayors discussed their successful effort to get a sales tax increase passed to fund the rail expansion: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2014/04/04/cnt-and-active-trans-launch-transit-future-funding-campaign/

    Denver is also doing a good job with transit expansion right now.

    But how do you figure that Chicago adding 5.3 miles of track and four stations to the Red Line wouldn’t count as expanding the system? The city also recently made a decent effort to create a new 16-mile rapid transit line via the Ashland BRT proposal, although, disappointingly, that’s currently on hold due to stiff opposition from residents and merchants.

    And, give Chicago some credit, lots of other good stuff has been going on with our system lately. The reconstruction of the South Red Line. Brand new, mostly visually interesting stations at Skokie-Oakton, Morgan, Cermak Green, and Washington-Wabash. Massive rehabs of the 95th and Wilson Red Line stops. Loop Link and the Union Station Transit Center (the former is only a modest improvement in bus service, but if the city follows through with plans for prepaid boarding, that’ll make a big difference. The current rehab of O’Hare Branch tracks and stations. The planned reconstruction of the north Red and Purple lines, including the Belmont flyover, which will allow the CTA to run more cars during rush hours.

    Yes, Chicago’s system pales in comparison to European or Asian cities and, as stated in my post, there are lots of strategies we should be pursuing to improve it. That’s a large reason why Streetsblog Chicago exists, to advocate for better transit, as well as walking, biking, and public space.

    But we’re also here to fact check other publications on transportation issues. So criticisms of the CTA are perfectly fine — we make lots of them here ourselves. But if someone makes unfair, or downright false, statements about the CTA in the media, we’re going to respond to them.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Adding track to the red line is great. It does nothing to expand the L in a way that increases mobility or transferability within and around the city and the system.
    This guy challenged the idea that Chicago is a walkable, transit friendly city where you don’t need a car and I agree with him in a lot of respects.
    The L is a very very basic system that gets you downtown. It’s overtaxed and overcrowded, inaccessible and in a lot of ways very poorly designed.
    There’s little public organizing to improve or expand it, and as you mentioned about the BRT so many little fiefdoms riddled with nimbys who want a suburban lifestyle inside the city. We all have to suffer because people don’t want strangers in their neighborhood, or noise, or whatever.
    When you can get from central and Irving park down to Pullman while seamlessly transferring a line or two (for free) in under an hour I will happily shut up.
    But this guy is right that Chicago sells itself as something it’s not.

  • Kathy Schubert

    I read helter skelter’s comments before I left the house to bike to Skokie for a movie. I spent the rest of the day designing a reply in my head while riding. I’ve come to the conclusion that we should send him to Englewood to see what a real food desert looks like. But then I remembered that they now have a Whole Foods. I don’t understand how he can call Whole Foods a specialty store.
    Maybe his job in Lincoln Park is in the Lincoln Park Zoo. I can’t imagine that he expects to walk to a grocery store within the Park itself. But maybe that’s what he means.
    If everybody had a grocery store within walking distance, we’d have no other kinds of stores at all. And movies – well now that Netflix and other suppliers are competing, is there a need for more traditional movie theaters?
    Please come out with your whole name Mr. Skelter…if you dare. And start using a bike if a walk to the “border.” is too much walking for you.

  • Urbanbydesign

    And I’d add that if you and this version of Streetsblog is what we have as advocates, you are part of the problem. There’s something weird about not apologizing for and defending a mediocre transit system on top of mediocre and regressive land use policies, while the working poor suffer and bicyclists/pedestrians are getting run over and killed in the streets. Happy to debate demography data all day long, but if you’re the vanguard for all of us then we are kind of fucked if we want this city to progress and evolve. This article should’ve been titled “dude’s got a point – (but we still hate him)”

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Curse that Jonathan Maus guy! He’s given Portland expats unrealistic expectations for hard-hitting transportation journalism and advocacy. Seriously though, it’s much more pleasant to have these kind of discussions in person than online, so come to our meetup on 9/21 at Baderbrau and you can learn more about what we do here: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2017/09/05/join-us-for-a-streetsblog-meetup-thursday-921-at-baderbrau/

    And here’s some (very old) proof that I’m not just a relentless shill for Chicago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYu5yUuVq90

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Here’s the Chicago area transit systems on the same… transit map: http://rtachicago.org/files/documents/planyourtrip/RTA%20System%20Map.pdf

  • skelter weeks

    The original post was about someone complaining of the lack of walkability of the city, specifically Logan Square, and then I gave another example. I don’t know why that offends you so much.
    Walkability a real problem in Chicago, and not just on the oft-mentioned ‘South and West sides’. You can’t fix a problem until you recognize it.

  • I’d also expand the pool to Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. Against these four, there’s pros and cons, and I wouldn’t necessarily rank Chicago below any of them, or above any of them except Calgary.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Mexico City’s transit is superior to Chicago, possibly inferior to NYC. A more grid-like train system and plentiful, fast BRT gives them an edge over us: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/mexico-city-metrobus-bus-rapit-transit-lessons/Content?oid=21143743

  • Steve Timble

    Urbanbydesign – I’m a life long Chicagoan with kids who lives in Logan Square and I’m going to say that you are hitting the nail on the head on most, if not all of your points. I think, for me and for many Chicagoans, we’ve become comfortable with the lack of things mentioned and slow progress in changes that would make the city better. But, this isn’t because we’re complacent or don’t want improvements, it’s because we’ve seen the huge progress in our lifetime in public transit improvements, bike accessibility improvement, education improvements and other related livability improvements. You are correct that Chicago can and should do better. But, fortunately for you, you did not get to see the City when bicycling was truly a Mad Max contact sport and riding on the El on a bus was a sociological adventure that required keen time and personal space management. While I always loved the idea of living car free, not for a moment did I think it was possible in Chicago (NYC yes, SF maybe, but not here). The tribalism and in-crowd/out- crowd is definitely an issue here, even if many say it is not. But I think that’s an issue in any major city. That said, I know Chicago can do better in this area and that we are uniquely positioned to be more welcoming. So, what I’m going to say is this. If you want to get together with the kids at Mikos or The Freeze or at Unity Park and let the kids play while we chat about urban planning, let me know. Chicago is lucky is have folks like you moving here to build your lives. It’s a big part of what makes Chicago great.

  • Urbanbydesign

    I’m there! I’ll be gently heckling from the back row. 😉

  • Urbanbydesign

    Was it the Belmont station that shut down almost half of the CTA last month? Or Fullerton? Don’t remember. That was one station and brown, purple, red lines couldn’t move for hours. A derailment on the 6 doesn’t shut down half the system.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Great. Would love to see those deployed at actual L stations and Metra stations, especially for visitors/foreign tourists who may be unaware of the multiple transit agency layers and their different versions of maps. I doubt many locals are aware of rta.

  • Urbanbydesign

    I love this! Thank you Steve, I’d love to meet up.

  • rohmen

    As someone who lived in Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village for years, I’d agree that I never took issue with not having a car, and given that I feel very comfortable on a bike, I also always felt that I had decent access to the rest of the City as lond as I was willing to ride.

    BUT, in terms of connectivity and over-all walkability for the City as a whole, I have to say essentially all of my long term friends I had lived in a near west and/or near northwest neighborhoods. We didn’t go out to Lakewview or Lincoln Park much at all (like literally a handful of times a year, or to see something like a show), in part because we preferred WP, Ukie or Logan Square spots, but also because it’s either a $20+ cab each way, or well over an hour by public transit if you’re not cycling. I don’t think I’m unique in the above regard, and it does create a sort of weird tribalism in this City where you tend to associate only in your area of the City. That is different than say SF or NYC, where friends I have those cities tend to hop around neighborhoods much, much more frequently, and have friends that live all over.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Everything Steve said. Beautifully articulated.

  • Carter O’Brien

    That was definitely aggravating for all involved (I was fortunate to score the last Divvy after exiting at Southport), but it’s hyperbole to say that took down half of the CTA, as it didn’t even take down half of the L.

    A fairer point would be that our hub and spokes model is obsolete, and that every day we don’t move forward planning for the now-shelved Circle Line is time and opportunity wasted, as that project has needed to happen for many reasons, for many years.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    The maps are posted in downtown Metra stations and probably some downtown CTA stops. It would be great to see them in more stations.

    One thing that definitely is an issue here is that there’s some competition between Metra and CTA, which means there’s less coordination than one would like to see. Many have argued that it’s absurd that RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace all have separate boards of directors, which not only adds complexity, but also costs for compensating all these people and providing pensions. Granted, too many nodes of government, is one of the key issues with how our city, region, and state are governed.

  • Urbanbydesign

    Sorry, meant half the L not the bus system. And nearly half, I’ll watch my hyperbole. An important choke point, to be sure.
    It’d be great to have two circle lines as the backbone of an interneighborhood subway/elevated system. An express line or two. Not going to happen in my lifetime but I can dream….

  • Urbanbydesign

    Huh, I’ve never seen those maps in person – I’ll have to keep an eye out, I use Metra a lot.
    Totally agree. Seems absurd that Metra and CTA are competitors. I get it. But they’re serving very different purposes. I lived in NYC for a spell and don’t remember picking up on acrimony between LIRR/MetroNorth and the subway. Maybe that’s why the system seems more integrated there. Definitely sniping with Path/NJ transit though…

  • rohmen

    Honestly, based on cost alone, I’m not sure Whole Foods can really be considered anything besides a specialty store. The Amazon merger will help, but the cost of products at WF definitely puts it out of reach for many people.

  • Carter O’Brien

    No argument that choke hold would have won a gold medal in an Olympic Judo contest!

    But I certainly agree on the need for a more comprehensive L system across the grid, my personal frustration is the obsession with stretching our current lines deeper into the suburbs without thinking through capacity limits within the City, while the opportunity cost for this seems to be an ability to push forward on the Circle Line (and yes, we need more than one – the increase in property values and gridlock reduction justify them easily IMO).

    This is one of my favorite more visionary pieces, it has only looked better with age:

    http://www.gapersblock.com/detour/a_cta_map_for_2055/

  • Urbanbydesign

    Thanks for that link! That 2055 map looks so great. Is any of this being planned? I read awhile ago that the circle line started engineering and planning work but it’s stalled? Amazing what only 6 miles of track would do. A kedzie line would be amazing. Would also be nice to have an L line along the lake front – the beaches, the zoo, navy pier, millennium/grant park, streeterville, museum/campus and soldier field, the convention center, Hyde park/uofC/Jackson Park/Obama Library – all the way down to rainbow beach. I know there’s Metra for some of those areas but a frequent subway connecting those areas would be amazing, especially for visitors.
    Anyway, very cool to see the ideas being put out there. Hope ANY of it happens. I would love to get rid of our car. :)

  • Carter O’Brien

    The Circle Line never made it, it was the most shortsighted move in decade IMO. Circulating people within the city isn’t just about the capacity of any given line(s), it’s about accessibility to the lines.

    For example, sure, we will see a positive impact from the modernization project at Belmont, no doubt about it. But did anyone actually investigate the opportunity cost of that project instead of focusing on the Circle Line? In the bigger picture a brand new L line reaching into underserved and very car dependent neighborhoods would have been a huge gamechanger – just multiply out the TOD potential and growth in the property tax base, for starters.

  • Steve Timble

    Well then. All we have to do is find a time that works for everyone! How about Wednesday, 9.13, 7P at The Freeze ((2815 W Armitage)?

    @carter_o_brien:disqus will you be joining us as well?

  • Toddster

    Being better than others is not the same as being good.

    Yes, Chicago has a better system than those other million plus cities, but it still has enormous room for improvement – the hub and spoke set up and infrequency/lack of integration of Metra being two big areas for improvement.

    I will add Chicago maintains their infrastructure in a way New Yorkers would drool over.

  • Toddster

    Yes, yes it does. A derailment on the 6 would mess with the 4/5 too, creating back ups on the 2/3 where they share tracks, causing people to flee to the ABDC trains delaying those. And it ripples from there.

    A derailment on the 6, or almost anywhere, on the NYC subway will cause mass chaos across half the system for half the day easily.

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Report: Chicago Falling Behind Peer Cities on Transit-Oriented Growth

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Transit-oriented development in the Chicago region is falling behind cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, according to a report released in May by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a local “think and do tank.” In “Transit-Oriented Development in the Chicago Region” [PDF], CNT warns that Chicago’s failure to focus housing and jobs near transit is […]