Survey: Most Chicagoans Support Bus Rapid Transit

CTA rendering of bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue.

While the anti-bus rapid transit crowd would have you believe there’s little backing for the city’s plan for fast, reliable service on Ashland Avenue, a new survey found that a majority of Chicago voters support BRT as a solution to the city’s transit needs. The new opinion data comes in addition to the 23 local businesses and organizations that have already signed on as supporters of bus rapid transit, as well as the over 1400 residents who’ve signed an Active Transportation Alliance petition voicing their support for the plan.

Of the Chicagoans polled, 59 percent said they supported bringing bus rapid transit to the city, while just 10 percent opposed. However, it’s worth noting that 75 percent said they knew little or nothing about the city’s Ashland BRT proposal prior to the survey. After the interviewer read some of the potential benefits of BRT, such as faster service, and pre-paid, level boarding, 73 percent of the respondents said they would switch from driving and other forms of transit if BRT made their commute faster.

The survey was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation (disclosure: Streetsblog Chicago receives funding from Rockefeller) and conducted by Global Strategy Group. Pollsters reached 500 Chicagoans via telephone between May 30 and June 5, with representative samples of registered voters by geography, gender, age and ethnicity. The margin of error is ±4.4 percent.

A few other interesting findings: 89 percent said they believe better public transportation can give a shot in the arm to the economy and help create jobs; 71 percent said it’s important to invest in better transit; and 71 percent said they’d be willing to spend an extra ten cents a day for improved public transportation options that would shorten their commutes.

“Foremost, the survey shows that there’s a lot of support for bus rapid transit,” said Benjamin de la Peña, associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Secondly, it shows that people understand that public transportation is directly related to growing the economy and creating jobs.”

It’s clear that many Chicagoans want to improve the city’s transit network by building BRT on Ashland, but it’s important that these voices be heard. Contact your alderman and sign Active Trans’ petition to express your support for the CTA’s plan.

  • Anonymous

    “73 percent of the respondents said they would switch from driving and other forms of transit if BRT made their commute faster.”

    Except even by the CTA’s own biased studies, the bus is still slower than cars!! And arguably less pleasant, more inconvenient, and more expensive for short trips. Oh, and the group that funded the survey is an avid supporter of the BRT, which is why we get such hysterically stupid questions that guide people into answers that appear to support it. And out of hundreds of businesses on Ashland, plus the tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who would be affected by it, a mere 23 businesses and 1,400 residents have publicly endorsed it (lamentably, so has my alderman, who I otherwise like). Plus, BRT is most commonly used as a *replacement* for light rail. Ashland has not one but TWO el lines that run parallel to it, each just a few blocks to the east and west.

    “89 percent said they believe better public transportation can give a shot in the arm to the economy and help create jobs”

    This question alone shows how laughably unserious this poll is. As if a bunch of random people are suddenly economists and we should rely on them for city-wide economic advice. Besides, nowhere in any of this is the question of “is it worth the money to build this?” Supporters would gladly spend $50 kajillion on a single 5 mile stretch of road if given the chance, ignoring the costs while justifying it with a completely unquantifiable and highly ambiguous argument that it’ll create jobs.

    “71 percent said it’s important to invest in better transit”

    Again, another utterly pathetic question that speaks volumes about the quality and seriousness of the poll. This would be like the Fraternal Order of Police asking people, “Do you think it’s important to have a low crime rate?” Then when everyone obviously says yes, using it as justification for doubling the police force.

    There is a place for BRT but $120 million on a sole 5 mile stretch on Ashland aint it.

  • Joseph Musco

    Cities work best when public works have a broad & organic base of support.

    In addition to Streetsblog, Rockefeller funds ITDP, the Chicago Community Trust (which in turn partly funds Active Transportation Alliance), the Global Strategies Group marketing campaign (including this poll), the Chicago BRT taskforce, and the City of Chicago CDOT/CTA BRT project manager position held by Chris Ziemann. Gabe Klein wrote the forward in ITDP’s 2013 BRT Standards guide. The more I hear a chorus of voices in support of BRT, the more I see one funding source behind all the voices — Rockefeller.

    I know, I know, I’m a terrible cynic. Rockefeller Foundation is giving out free grant money to support public transit and I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth. Still, for all the Rockefeller BRT funding (about $4M total) it adds up to less than what Chicago would save in one mile by choosing NYC’s SBS bus service (~$5M per mile) vs. ITDP Gold Standard BRT (~$15M/mile). Multiply the additional costs of going with Rockefeller’s recommendations by 5 miles in the test corridor, 15 miles on Ashland, and hundreds of miles citywide and you begin to see why my old HS accounting teacher told me there was no such thing as a free lunch.

  • CL

    Excellent — this fits with my theory that many (most?) drivers favor having good alternatives, and that they will respond positively to proposals to fund better public transit. For the most part, improving transit doesn’t inconvenience drivers (I’m still going to drive on Ashland, and if it’s slow I’ll just take Western, no big deal) — and everyone in Chicago wants fast alternatives because sometimes you just don’t want to drive. Maybe it’s snowing and you’re afraid of flurries because you’re from the south, or maybe you’re drunk, or maybe you’re going downtown where parking is a nightmare. Do you want to pay for an expensive cab ride (no), or get hit on by some hipster driving for Lyft (no), or do you want to pay like two dollars for a fast bus? (yes) BRT benefits everyone because it gives us more options. People like fast, convenient, inexpensive options. BRT will be beloved when it comes.

  • Mcass777

    Yes you do have to question who funds any study and the question asked. The questions posted in the article are soft. What would respndents answer to the following: is there a negative impact if 50% of lanes on major streets in Chicago are elinimated for private use?
    Any question is a leading question and your study will always support the predicted outcome, ask any graduate working on their thesis!

    That said, busses need to be quicker, it is why i ride a bike or drive. When i lived in an apartment a requirement was to be with in a few blocks ofmthe red line and no where near Clark or Sheridan bus lines. My blood pressure boils as i sit crawling from block to block while pedestrians pass our bus!

  • Anonymous

    Cl, I think generally you’re right about people wanting options, but unfortunately the BRT – even if it works as designed – is still slow. Faster than before? Sure. Fast? Hardly. This is why I hate this BRT proposal, because it costs so much and adversely affects so many drivers for such an underwhelming payoff. And there is no BRT network, it’s just a single short stretch. It would be like if Divvy had 10 docks. When the rest of the network sucks, the usefulness of the BRT is highly diminished.

  • Clark Wellington

    This comment makes no sense on both points.

    First, the proposed Ashland BRT would be significantly faster than current buses. Projection are for up to ~80% increases in speed. This is a major payoff in my book.

    Second, the Divvy comparison is incredibly flawed. This line will link with four L lines in the initial phase and two more in future phases, so the network is there (why it would have to connect to other BRT lines is beyond me). Further, going quickly up and down Ashland is a huge benefit in and of itself, as it’s one of the most-used bus routes in the city already.

  • Clark Wellington

    Your comment again is blatantly wrong. The initial phase of this project goes from Cortland to 31st. What are the nearby L lines that parallel Ashland here? Are you referring to the two Pink line stops that cover a mile of this proposed 16-mile route?

  • CL

    What else are we supposed to do in that area, though? As much as I would like them to put a train or a fast trolley on a north / south road that is west of the L, I just don’t think it’s going to happen because of money and politics. BRT is a relatively cheap way to speed up public transit on a route that is already used by a lot of people.

    I drive on Ashland frequently, and I don’t live far enough south to make BRT a good option for me (driving is still going to be much faster for me, so I’m going to keep driving as long as it’s not snowing and I’m not drunk) — but we can still use the left lane, and we still have Western, so I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference in travel time. I could be wrong — maybe their estimates of car speed are too optimistic — but I think it will be okay. Sometimes I actually like one lane roads because people aren’t recklessly swerving around trying to pass so that they can go 40.

    And this is exactly how I would like us to move toward sustainable transportation — making driving more inconvenient is okay with me if we’re replacing a road with better public transit. If they were getting rid of a lane to build a big parklet I’d be annoyed, but this is going to make commutes faster for everyone who uses the route (which lots of people already do)

  • Joseph Musco

    I agree that Ashland is a prime spot for improved bus service. I’m for a dedicated bus lane in each direction but running curbside, not center running.

    It’s my view that center running BRT and eliminating left turns don’t get you much for what they cost – both in actual dollars and politically. Sure these two features bump up the time savings for center running BRT on paper but they also diffuses costs into the neighborhood — no left turns requires more driving and that driving is going to be shifted into the grid. That’s not a zero cost shift and if you add a similar center running BRT on a parallel corridor like Western (as is proposed in the long term plan) then you have quite a bit of shifting of traffic into side streets. There is also the additional cost of purchasing a new fleet of special buses that have left-side opening doors with center running BRT. If you see what the costs per mile for center running BRT have been in Cleveland vs. curbside BRT in NYC — it’s hard to justify the expense of center-running BRT vs. the same money funding 2-3x the length of curbside running BRT.

  • jetDrew

    The main argument I’ve heard against this proposal is that it might take away capacity from motorists. This fundamentally fallacious argument treats motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit patrons as mutually exclusive groups of people. Most people I know in the city use all forms of locomotion, choosing whichever is the most convenient. Currently, almost everyone I know avoids Ashland Avenue because its unpleasant for walking, dangerous for cycling, and is slow-moving for both transit patrons and drivers. If even one form of transportation were favorable on Ashland, it would be a huge boon for business owners along the corridor. Just take a look at Ashland vs. Division in Wicker Park to see which is more thriving. Both are wide enough for two vehicle lanes plus parking. One has wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and only a single traffic lane, and is full of constantly-crowded sidewalk cafes and boutiques. One has two traffic lanes, and tons of vacant retail space. Its easy to figure out which one is more business-friendly.

  • H

    Those of us up in Andersonville, Edgewater, Roger’s Park and so on continue to be completely confused as to why the Ashland BRT proposal stops at Irving Park. Just because that’s where the 9 bus currently stops? A few weeks ago, Alderman Joe Moore up in Roger’s Park shook my hand in the parking lot of Devon Produce and so I asked him about why he hadn’t loudly supported a Northward expansion of BRT given how much it would improve the transit options on the West side of his poorly connected district. His response confirmed that he was among the 75% of Chicagoans who “knew little or
    nothing about the city’s Ashland BRT proposal.” I’m all for BRT, but even with a supposedly pro-transit Mayoral administration and a forward-thinking CTA, this plan just seems so shortsighted.

  • Anonymous

    Between the brown line and red line, I don’t think BRT is as desperately needed on Ashland north of Irving Park as it is on other routes in the city. Besides route 9, I can think of a few other places that could use it including 79th and North Ave.

  • CL

    It would be awesome if the route extended to Rogers Park — even if there were just one or two stops in that area, like an express bus, that could connect us to it. It’s not like I’m incapable of going south on public transit without it — it’s just that driving is always going to be a much better option than waiting for the (slow, unreliable) 22, then waiting again to board the Ashland bus.

  • CL

    For some reason I assumed the BRT lane would be curbside — I agree that a curbside lane makes more sense than a center lane. I wonder why they chose the center?

  • Curbside causes conflicts with parking.

  • CL

    How? Busses drive in the right lane beside cars now.

  • Guest

    Yes, buses drive in the right lane now and how is that working out? Cars needing to park and needing to turn right are a major time sucker for bus routes. Running buses in the median allows for retaining existing parking AND having a dedicated bus lane that is unhindered by encroaching vehicles.

    It also reduces station costs – you only need one shelter, one ticket machine, etc. to service both directions, rather than two stations at each “stop” location.

  • CL

    Oh, you’re right — I wasn’t thinking through how the cars would get to the parking lane.

  • Al Lux

    About the argument that BRT takes away capacity from motorists which was mentioned below… I think it’s a valid concern. I have quite a few “progressive” friends who question the wisdom in eliminating a travel lane from Ashland (eliminating an auto traffic lane, specifically). For the record, I am for BRT, and that’s why I hope they don’t mess up the Ashland Ave experiment.

    Something to consider: from roughly Harrison on the southern end to Belmont on the northern end, Ashland is a mess during the morning and evening rush.

    The big question is this: will eliminating a lane of auto traffic make the situation more of a mess, or will it make it better?

    Since the proposed Ashland Ave BRT can be largely seen as a stand alone route, I think that it will really only attract trips with origins and destinations that are fairly close to Ashland Ave. Thinking about motorists who use Ashland Ave — I have a hunch that their trip origins and destinations are not both near Ashland Ave – maybe one of them is, and they are using Ashland Ave as medium distance north-south travel corridor within the city. So I’m not sure that a stand alone north-south route will entice them (not to mention auto trip chaining behavior – another hurdle to attracting motorists)

    For existing travelers who use the Ashland bus, whether to travel along the corridor, or whether to connect to another bus or the Blue Line — they will have a faster trip. That’s great, of course. But will the BRT attract people who currently drive from their homes in Roscoe Village out out to Cumberland Ave? Or will these people take the BRT, and transfer at Division for Blue Line? If BRT does attract some motorists, I’m guessing the number will be not very high…

    Now, how could BRT attract more motorists? In my opinion, the answer lies in not having stand alone approach. A network approach is imperative. That’s because one of the defining feature of cities today is the fact that origins and destinations are everywhere. Work sites are everywhere, residences are everywhere. That’s why the auto is so damn attractive. You can get anywhere you want whenever you want.

    Therefore, in order for BRT to work, in order for it to begin to meet the transportation challenges of Chicago, and more broadly cities, I think anything less than a network approach is shortsighted.Even if BRT were to be integrated with the El, I think this is a less than ideal situation. People would have to exist the bus, enter a station, pass their ticket through again, walk up stairs. Maybe not a big deal for you and me, but you’re not going to attract many “choice” riders this way.

  • CL

    I think this is basically right. The majority of drivers aren’t going to switch to BRT — you need a very specific trip for it to be efficient (point A to B are in walking distance of Ashland). If you have to transfer to another bus or train, you risk a 15 minute wait if your timing is unlucky.

    This is why I think they should make the route as long as possible, meaning that there would be a way to pick it up north of Irving Park. Nobody is going to switch from driving to taking the 22 and then walking to the Ashland bus.

    However, it’s a step in the right direction, and it might lead to us getting a better network in the future — if people who do live along the route like BRT, and switch from driving, this might lead to BRT being expanded.

  • Anonymous

    We could start by getting rid of 2/3rds of the bus stops and only making stops every 4 blocks at major intersections. The amount of stops on Ashland is overkill…this has to play a major role in why the Ashland bus is so pathetically slow.

    I also live right off Ashland and rely on it for a lot of my car travel. Western might seem close enough but east/west traffic can often be worse than north/south traffic because other than Irving Park Rd (I live in Lakeview) there isn’t a single east/west street that’s 4 lanes. So Western seems fine but cutting over and back can suck, and it would only get worse with the BRT.

    I think their car speed estimates are wildly optimistic. The CTA is basically arguing there is a free lunch in all this but their logic doesn’t pass common sense. They reduce road capacity by 50% while assuming that 13% of drivers will opt for the bus, yet speeds will stay the same. How? You’d be cramming more cars per lane through Ashland, it would be worse unless you assume that a bunch more drivers take other roads, which is just going to make traffic elsewhere considerably worse. There is no free lunch here unless you can get a crapload of drivers to switch, but that’s not going to happen without a vast BRT network.

    The payoff is that drivers get slammed with more traffic while a small minority of commuters taking the bus get to save 10 minutes. This flawed project is going to cost $120 million if we’re lucky. Meanwhile, Chicago is literally going broke. CPS is a trainwreck that just slashed budgets and laid off 1,000 teachers, while bond rating agencies keep downgrading its debt. Budget gap at CPS for 2014? An even billion dollars. The city is literally running out of money as the SunTimes just reported on this morning. I dont think any residents have any real appreciation for how truly dysfunctional the city’s finances are and how bad things are going to get a few years from now. It’s just algebra. So even ignoring how flawed the BRT is, it’s almost a criminal waste of money when you look at it in the broader context of the city.

  • Al Lux

    I agree with less stops. There is no operational justification for a stop every block, which sadly to say, exists in some parts of the city. The only reason this exists (in some places) is because Aldermen/women requested in the past. Unfortunately people don’t like it when you take away something that is theirs which is why removing these stops now is rather difficult.

    About funding – keep in mind that most of the money for BRT – the buses, the runningways, stations, etc… will probably come from a federal DOT grant and not out of the pocket of the of City of Chicago. I think it might be an 80-20 or 70-30 split. So I don’t think it should be considered the big waste of money you are saying.

  • Al Lux

    I agree on the merits of making the Ashland route longer, especially at the northern end. It should definitely go up to the Andersonville area. Why wouldn’t it?

    If anyone has some info on why this is not part of the proposal, please inform us.

  • “The payoff is that drivers get slammed with more traffic while a small minority of commuters taking the bus get to save 10 minutes.”

    I believe one of the forces behind this push is the actual comparison of number of people who move along Ashland in rush hour in busses versus cars — most of the cars have exactly one person in them, some have two, and only vanishingly few of them have more than two. Full busses are, what, a hundred or more? Per vehicle? You only need a few of those an hour to greatly outweigh, by simple population, the contents of all the cars passing through at the same time. And hopefully the new service will run every 8-12min in rush hour, to maximize capacity.

    Bus riders are not a small minority on most roads, they just look it because car commuters take up so much more visible space.

  • Anonymous

    “Bus riders are not a small minority on most roads, they just look it because car commuters take up so much more visible space.”

    I’m afraid that’s not true. Even the CTA’s own analysis shows that bus is only something like high single digits percent of all traffic on Ashland…it’s less than 10%.

  • Anonymous

    A network can’t be built all at once absent a transit parallel to the Federal Aid Highway Act.

    You’re right, though – we need a viable transit network.

    We have the best road network on the planet and it is passed time to start building an auto-competitive transit network. We’re losing competitive ground nationally and internationally by continuing to make the wrong investments – primarily new highways and incremental expansions . . . the same thing we’ve been doing for 50 years. It is time for a necessary change.

    For now, transit has to take it a little at a time or not at all. Doing nothing is not an option, and Ashland “BRT” is a far cry better than status quo.

  • Al Lux

    The Federal Highway Act was about building a national system of *new* highways. We’re not talking about building new train lines or even new roads.
    The right-of-way already exisst! It’s an issue of tweaking current roadway configurations, painting, signal pre-emption, building a little station, etc…
    I don’t see why a concerted and strategic effort couldn’t result in say, four, five, or six BRT routes on a combination of north-south and east-west streets in Chicago.

  • Anonymous

    @ Al Lux — Streetsblog reported way back in January that Brian Bonanno
    of Andersonville Development Corp was ‘trying to get to the table’ on
    northward route expansion, but all of the alderman seem totally
    oblivious and i don’t know if it ever got anywhere. I wasn’t able to
    make it to any of the public CTA meetings but I haven’t been able to
    find any other discussion about it.

  • Sorry it took me a while to respond to your comments bedhead1, as well as a couple other skeptics, but let’s dig in and address the ones that other pro-BRT commeters haven’t tackled. The survey asks about switching from other forms of transit as well as cars, but buses on Ashland would run at 15.9 mph, including stops, which would be only slightly slower than cars, 17.4 mph. When you take into consideration searching for parking, digging out your vehicle in winter, etc., a bus trip might actually be faster overall.

    But assuming the car trip would be somewhat slower, obviously speed isn’t everything. For example, taking the train from Naperville to Union Station at 8 a.m. takes 46 minutes while driving takes 38 minutes. So, beside the fact that downtown parking is expensive, why do so many people opt to take the train? It’s safer, more reliable, more relaxing, and cheaper overall than driving. Those reasons, plus parking, will make many people choose the Ashland BRT over driving, although driving may be slightly faster.

    Right, Pawar has endorsed BRT – look for more aldermanic endorsements in the near future. The “mere” 23 businesses and organizations that have signed on as official supporters of Chicago’s BRT plans include heavyweights like the AARP, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Columbia College, Illinois Medical District, Navy Pier and UIC. And certainly 1,400 signatures is nothing to sneeze at.

    The first 5.5-mile phase between 31st and Cortland is estimated at $116 million, including purchasing new buses with left-side doors. What are you measuring that against as being an unreasonable expendature – the destructive Circle Interchange Expansion project, which will cost about four times as much and have a minimal impact on congestion?

  • If politicians and planners only made decision based on what’s popular, there would be little hope for the progressive transportation changes that our cities and our nation desperately need. For example, Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan have caught an awful lot of grief for the gutsy street overhauls they undertook in NYC. Would the average New Yorker have voted to pedestrianize Broadway? Probably not. Do they love it now that it’s a thriving car-free space? Definitely. Likewise, while the Ashland BRT does already have a reasonably broad base of support, but it’s going to take courage to pull it off.

    FYI, our Rockefeller funding has nothing to do with Streetsblog’s strongly pro-BRT stance. Steven’s and my old site Grid Chicago had the same viewpoint, as this post demonstrates:

    The Ashland Corridor will only be $10 million per mile overall, not $15 million. While the Select bus service is a big improvement over conventional service, there’s no comparison with gold-standard BRT. Since Ashland will have center-running lanes that won’t be hindered by parking cars, double-parked vehicles, taxis loading and unloading, etc., and it will have level boarding and likely signal prioritization, buses will travel much faster than Select buses. The rush hour speed of the M15 Select on 1st Avenue increased by 18 percent over conventional service, whereas Ashland should increase by 83 percent. While there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you get what you pay for.

  • Curbside BRT on Ashland with travel lane removal would run at only 13.5 mph compared to 15.9 mph for center-running. The rapid-transit-style stations associated with center-running BRT create a more pleasant rider experience and have been shown to increase property values. Cleveland’s the center-running HealthLine BRT system has boosted ridership and attracted a wave of new development, with $3.3 billion being invested in new construction and $2.5 billion for building rehab.

  • While the Ashland BRT will only stop every half mile, doing that with conventional bus service would amount to just bring back the old X9 “express” bus, which was still pathetically slow at 10.3 mph, only marginally faster than the 8.7 mph locals. Eliminating the locals would force some people with mobility impairments to travel an extra block or two, so the CTA is planning to keep some local service, likely curbside.

  • False. BRT would increase transit ridership to 26% of the mode share on Ashland, which would be a 46 percent increase over the status quo, so the current mode share is around 17 percent.

  • Anonymous

    John, I’m not interested in going back-and-forth on this, so I will leave my response at this. Your original blog post is so shallow-end thinking that it’s just further evidence of how manipulative people can be in order to personally accomplish something.

    Posting the results of some poll that was funded by supports of the BRT, without providing a link to the poll results, the entire list of questions, or any kind of documentation is highly suspect. The questions were so obviously leading and childish that even other commenters on here who avidly support the BRT have called you out on this. In short, and to put it bluntly, your entire original post was nothing but bs.

  • Sure, I think we’ve both laid our points out there, so need for further discussion. I appreciate you reading and commenting on the blog and I respect your opinion of the original post. There was was no practical way to link to the entire list of questions or poll results without putting them online ourselves, and it would have been cumbersome to post all the questions and results here, so I just provided the highlights. That said, you threw out several arguments here based on erroneous stats and inaccurate assumptions, so if you want to be taken seriously when you argue against BRT on this forum, I respectfully suggest that you get your facts straight.

  • Anonymous

    I like this blog quite a bit, but I think your posts sometimes have a habit of drifting from passionate to being propaganda, unwilling to admit to or accept even the slightest criticism against your view. It would just be nice to see *some* give and take.

  • When you remove capacity for driving, people don’t drive. There isn’t a need to find that capacity elsewhere. If the goal is to get people to use non-driving modes, then non-driving modes need to have the same ease of accessibility and mobility that the driving mode offers. Most trips that people take are less than 2 miles, which can easily be accomplished on a bicycle, or even by a bit of extra walking.

    With a fast bus, wide sidewalks, a safer pedestrian crossing experience, protected bike lanes, people will begin to see how driving isn’t as important as they thought it was, especially as it continues to impact their wallets in ways they don’t want.

  • bedhead1, I thought you weren’t interested in going back and forth anymore? Just kidding. Glad to hear you like the blog, and point taken.

  • Bingo. The term is called traffic evaporation. For example, when Wacker Drive was out of commission for the rehab, Carmageddon did not break out in the Loop. People just thought twice before making unnecessary car trips and business proceeded as usual. If anything, the Loop was a bit calmer and more civilized during the street closure due to the calming effect of less cars on the road and a bit more traffic congestion.

  • Anonymous

    I like a lot of it, and your posts…obviously we disagree strongly on the BRT, but I agree with you on lots of other things. Keep posting!

  • Thanks bedhead1. We’ll be announcing another reader meetup soon; it would be great to meet in person with you and some of the other folks who post dissenting opinions on the blog, which helps keep things interesting.

  • I couldn’t remember the name.

  • Al Lux

    I agree 100% with the idea that fast buses, wide sidewalks, protected bike lanes, will help many people see that driving isn’t as necessary as previously thought. We’re in agreement. It’s important that the biking environment be safe and that the walking environment be pleasant.

    Most trips might be less than 2 miles, but I think it’s important to distinguish what people are doing on those trips: it may not be realistic for a family buying a week’s worth of food at Costco (to use an extreme example) or people going to the hardware store to walk or bike even though their trip length might be less than two miles. If it’s visiting friends, going to a restaurant, the drug store, etc…then walking and biking make perfect sense. A big problem for the transportation planning community is that once the person takes the car to go to the hardware store, for example, they just continue on to their friend’s house in the car, even though the friend might live 1.5 miles away.

    About capacity reductions: when capacity for driving is reduced of course there is no *need* to find that capacity elsewhere, but the important question is whether or not removing that capacity was a wise thing to do in the first place.

    And on this point I typically bump heads with “cars are evil, everyone should take transit and bike” crowd. Not that you belong to this crowd, but I perceive a few of these personalities in the comment section. I’m not saying the answer is clearly one thing or the other – I think the answer depends. I’m on this blog because I think it’s important to discuss these issues.

    So while I’m for BRT – actually there is nothing more I would like to see than a BRT network – I have my doubts about the proposed Ashland route as BRT’s big Chicago splash, and I think my concerns are different than the run of the mill NIMBYs.

    I’ll try to avoid dragging this out unnecessarily, but I haven’t heard anything about the trip making patterns of current Ashland auto users. Yes, a lot of people drive on Ashland, and it’s important to know this, but it’s not enough. I think any serious proposal for changes to Ashland (removing a travel lane) needs to address, at least at the surface, the trip making patterns of motorists. Stop and hand out mail back surveys to ~1000 motorists for example. Just learn something about the from where to where people are traveling when they use Ashland.

    All what I’ve said aside, I hope the Ashland experiment turns out well.

  • Al Lux

    I remember hearing about this once. I think the technical name ifor this is the Braess Paradox. it even has a wikipedia page:

  • Anonymous

    But we should be. We need a combination of improved, expanded and – yes – new high quality, affordable, and reliable transit alternatives.

    As for new roads, I’m not sure which state DOT you are referring to. Here in Illinois, IDOT is planning plenty; most imminently the Illiana. There’s sure to be some media coverage on it soon. We are obsessed with highway add-a-lanes and new facilities.

    What we’re missing is a similar level of commitment to transit and alternative transportation.

  • Kiefer

    I make this same comparison between Clark and Broadway up here in Edgewater. Clark has a single lane for cars, stop signs, traffic lights that don’t punish pedestrians hoping to cross, and thrives. Meanwhile, Broadway is flat, wide, and straight, with virtually every new building consisting of primarily a huge, empty parking lot, and its traffic lights are so long that most pedestrians run across. (Or, if they’re elderly or disabled, they slowly cross as cars inch toward them.) No coincidentally, there are empty storefronts EVERYWHERE on Broadway.


Ashland Bus Rapid Transit NIMBYs Try to Win Over Aldermen

The BRT NIMBYs are at it again. In January, the Ashland-Western Coalition, a consortium of chambers of commerce and community development groups on the Near West Side, hosted a public meeting where business owners panicked that the CTA’s plan to build bus rapid transit on Ashland would ruin them. Earlier this month the coalition announced […]

Chicago to Pursue Center-Running Bus Rapid Transit on Ashland Avenue

After a year of study and outreach, today Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Chicago Department of Transportation announced plans for center-running Bus Rapid Transit on Ashland Avenue. Once implemented, the project could set a national precedent for high-quality BRT, improving transit speeds as much as 80 percent during rush hour, according […]