Daniel Hertz Sets the Record Straight on BRT

Daniel Hertz

A recent Sun-Times piece gave airtime to old-school Chicago Department of Transportation traffic engineer Tom Kaeser, gloomily predicting that the CTA’s Ashland bus rapid transit plan will cause carmageddon. Last week, in the wake of that article, University of Chicago public policy grad student Daniel Hertz cleverly debunked some of the arguments against creating fast, reliable Ashland bus service on his blog City Notes.

The post, titled “Myths about the Ashland BRT project” deconstructs five beefs about the plan Hertz says he’s heard on multiple occasions. One accusation is that the purpose of BRT is to make driving more difficult. He points out that the bus, with 31,000-plus boarding’s per weekday, currently crawls along at an average speed of 8.7 mph, while motorists travel an average of 18.3 mph. If the shoe was on the other foot, drivers would stage a revolt. However, while the street configuration will only slow car traffic by ten percent, to 16.5 mph, bus speeds will increase by 83 percent, to 15.9 mph. That’s not sticking it to motorists, it’s leveling the playing field.

CTA rendering of Ashland BRT.

Kaeser and others have argued BRT will give a disproportionate amount of space to transit users. However, Hertz notes that after the plan is implemented, drivers will still dominate a majority of the lanes. While BRT buses will occupy the two center travel lanes, and the median stations will replace the current left-turn lanes, cars will still use the other two travel lanes, plus the two parking lanes, roughly 4/7 of the right-of-way. Since one out of four Ashland corridor households doesn’t even own an automobile, and only about half of the work commutes are done by car, that’s a fair proportion.

Hertz goes on to skewer arguments that the BRT project is too expensive (when it’s $80 million cheaper than the Red Line’s 95th Street station rehab), and that the Ashland-Western Coalition’s watered-down Modern Express Bus proposal would be a more sensible alternative. He also debunks the myth that more people can be moved efficiently on Ashland without either reallocating space from cars to transit or demolishing thousands of buildings. If you haven’t already, check out his smart, pithy post.

  • cjlane

    “Those left turns make the signal less efficient, in that it has to handle 6 or 8 directions of traffic rather than 6 or 4 ”

    I dunno about South Ashland, but North Ashland only has a few left turn signals relative to the number of left turn lanes (NB: I’m all for reducing the number of places where left turns are allowed, regardless, so that’s not my issue).

    In any case, the ones that do exist as ‘dumb’ signals that are activated whether or not a car is present in the turn lane. Much of your issue is mitigated by bringing Chicago signal technology into the 90s.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    it is still less efficient to have 8 directions of controlled traffic – even if they only turn on when people are there, people being there reduces efficiency.

  • cjlane

    “nearly half the travelers on the street”

    NOT EVEN CLOSE. Look upthread at the chart of the ridership of the 9–the peak in any stretch is 6,000 per day. Credit BRT with a 50% increase (which is beyond the projections I have seen) and you get peak daily ridership of 9,000 in the busiest stretch. The busiest stretches for total vehicles are presently around 36,000 per day. Multiple that by 1.5/vehicle (happy to use a better factor, if you have one) you have peak PEOPLE traveling on Ashland of 54,000 (not counting transit riders).

    BRT improves travel times for 15% of users, while degrading it for 85%.

  • cjlane

    Who is even suggesting building a ‘giant road’? If the discussion were between widening Ashland to be a NorCal-style ‘expressway’, but with 3 travel lanes each direction (eg: http://moderntransit.org/expy/pa.html ) and the current BRT proposal, you’d have a point (which I might still disagree with), but it’s not. The giant roads of the interstate and the suburbs have basically zero to do with Ashland Avenue.

  • Fred

    BRT improves travel times 100% for 15% of users, while degrading it 1% for 85%.

    It’s all about how you present the numbers.

  • cjlane


    I dunno how they are measuring the current congested travel speed on Ashland, but there is *no way* that the 5 miles from Madison to IPR currently takes only 16.2 minutes during (real world) congested periods (as opposed to traffic study ‘congested’). During congested periods, it is common to sit at the Ashland/Division/Milwaukee intersection for 3 or 4 light cycles. And again Ashland/Elston. And again at Ashland/Clybourn, And again at the Ashland/Belmont/Lincoln intersection. It is easy to spend more than 16 minutes *stopped* on that route.

    Yes, this is obviously still much faster than the 9 travels.

    Also, there is *no doubt* that the auto traffic remaining on Ashland (note: projection is for a ~1/3 reduction) will gain a big travel time advantage from the BRT signal priority, especially after the (inevitable) elimination of the Local 9 on the route. Which I think that the anti-BRT folks are forgetting (much as many of the pro-BRT forget that there are actually people in those damned cars).

  • cjlane

    I understand that, but we currently have the most inefficient system possible (bc CDOT wouldn’t apply for signal modernization grants under ISTEA or ISTEA II).

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Well that could be another problem. If you have the BRT going in both directions and one BRT stops to pick up passengers and then shortly after another BRT in the other direction stops to pick up passengers and they both use signal priority, will this cause back ups on the east/west streets. Will the traffic going in the same direction also have priority with the BRT?

  • Ryan Wallace

    Those giant roads of the interstate system and suburbs all follow the same basic principles of design as what is/was applied to roads such as Ashland; so there actually is a fair amount of comparative value. Obviously “giant roads” was meant with a fair amount of hyperbole. My point is that building roads the old way (capacity based on peak hours, oversized clear zones, etc) has lead to a system of infrastructure that is extremely overdesigned. Its this over design that leads people to drive at excessive speeds and drivers to believe they are entitled to more of the roadway than they truly need.

  • cjlane

    “BRT improves travel times 100% for 15% of users, while degrading it 1% for 85%.”

    That’s not what it does. Speed increase is not the same as time decrease.

    It improves travel *speed* by ‘up to’ 80% for 15% and decreases it by 10% for 85%. So, for 100 people traveling a mile, the 15% save (in the aggregate) about 48 minutes, while the 85% lose (in the aggregate) about 32 minutes–That’s pretty good! UNLESS the average trip distance for the transit user is not at least 2/3s as long as the average trip distance for the auto user–in which case, it’s a net aggregate time waster (there are other benefit, of course, but the time/speed thing is a HUGE focus).

    However, that ignore the 75,000 people (per the CDOT projections of 50,000 fewer vehicle trips; using 1.5 person/vehicle until someone points to better info) who will no longer be using Ashland AND who will not be ‘evaporated’ trips (showed my math in another thread–used 25% evaporation rate–again, until someone points to a better number). So, you have something like 175% of the BRT users who have a *completely uncalculated* change in their travel time. I’m open to the suggestion that those changed routes will be a net *saver* (Ashland is *horrible*), but I suspect that it’ll be closer to a wash, at best, and then that *still* doesn’t account for the (inevitable) change in speed and further displacement of travelers on the alternate routes (including, inevitably, transit riders on Halsted, and Damen, and Western, and perhaps further afield, and, of course, all of the E-W travelers–car, bus, bike, foot, horse, unicycle–who will be variously limited in timing of light cycles and the the locations to cross/turn left on/off of Ashland).

    Basically, there’d have to be some *really* robust calculations shown to demonstrate an aggregate improvement in travel times.

    And yes, I do completely understand that BRT is about a lot more than just travel times, but its the *headline* thing on many/most of the touts for Ashland BRT. And I don’t see how, based on the facts presented, it doesn’t lead to a greater aggregate travel time for the *people* using the streets of Chicago.

  • Fred

    I would argue the unscientific quality-of-life change is a bigger deal than the net aggregate travel time. For a car driver, increasing the length of a trip from 20 minutes to 22 minutes doesn’t really affect their day in any way. However, decreasing a bus trip from 40 minutes to 24 minutes or 20 minutes to 12 minutes, or even 10 minutes to 6 minutes is significant. The trade off seems worth it to me.

  • cjlane

    “Will the traffic going in the same direction also have priority with the BRT?”

    I *must* assume that this is an obvious “YES!” Because anything else is *beyond* stupid.

    Only caveat is: Where left turns are allowed, the BRT *should* have a separate signal, with individual lane priority.

  • cjlane

    Do you believe that *Ashland* is over-designed? I’m not talking about philosophical arguments, I’m talking about the hardcore reality of an individual street.

  • cjlane


    If even 90% of the private vehicle users of Ashland continue to use Ashland, it will be *massively* slower than that projection. That speed reduction is based on ~30% fewer vehicle trips on Ashland–something like 70,000 (faulty memory? 65k?) fewer vehicle trips.

    So, that slightly lower speed assumes that a *huge* number of people will re-route to avoid the potentially much much slower street. And it does nothing to account for the (probable) travel time increase for those re-routers, and the (probable) travel time increase on the re-routes (likely largely Halsted, Damen, Western) for both the private vehicle and transit users on those re-route streets.

    So, long story short–I *completely* believe the calculations about Ashland–I think a huge number of people will use other modes and routes–and so the remaining private vehicle users will only be slightly slowed. But that doesn’t deal with 75,000 people (50,000 trips) *daily* that are re-routed. And that’s compared to 40,000 people using BRT.

  • cjlane

    Oh, another thing: re [dual stopping BRT]

    The stations are going to be combined on one side of an intersection, so I think that that is a really minor problem *except* (probably) at the Kennedy/Armitage/Elston spot where the signalization, and the one location to turn left will make for a *very* complicated routine, especially on the occasions when two buses come close to the left turn signal time. That intersection is already dangerously backed up frequently, so there will be much trial and error, I’m sure.

  • cjlane

    ” decreasing a bus trip from 40 minutes to 24 minutes or 20 minutes to 12 minutes, or even 10 minutes to 6 minutes is significant.”

    Hold-on. How many people are on the 9 for 6 miles? From the (very cool) chart fbfree posted, it looks like *at most* something like 4,000 people. What’s the projection for the number who will do that, even with BRT? And, is the stated average speed of the 9 actually representative of the average speed on *that portion* of the route?

    Yes, for that subset of the users, it will be awesome, no doubt.

    Granted, probably not so many who drive 6 miles in a car, too, BUT that ignores the fact that the projections assume that ~30% of the people in private vehicles won’t be slowed slightly on Ashland–they will be taking entirely different routes, with NO calculation of their lost time. Will their trips take 10% longer, or 50% longer or 100% longer? We dunno. And I *absolutely* understand that many here don’t care.

  • Fred

    With Chicago’s robust street grid, there are almost always several more-or-less equal routes to get between 2 places. Drivers will just switch to one of the other routes. No individual route should get overwhelmed because the travelers should disperse equally among them. No individual street should see more than 10 or 20% (my guess) of the Ashland displaced trips. Most of the alternative routes have enough capacity to absorb the extra traffic with minimal impact. I find it hard to believe that there there would be any trip that *had* to be doubled in duration as a result of BRT.

  • cjlane

    “No individual route should get overwhelmed because the travelers should disperse equally among them. No individual street should see more than 10 or 20% (my guess) of the Ashland displaced trips. Most of the alternative routes have enough capacity to absorb the extra traffic with minimal impact.”

    C’mon. So, there are ~35,000 daily trips between IPR and North Avenue (numbers John has cited elsewhere–yes, they don’t all travel all 3 miles). Something like 8,000+ of those trips are going to (a) still happen, and (b) go elsewhere. How do you get from IPR to North? There are exactly 3 reasonable alternates (plus Elston or Clybourn for some part)–Western, Damen, and Halsted. At least 2 of those are going to get 25%+ of the displaced trips.

    This seems to be the time to again state that my familiarity with ebb and flow of traffic on the south of 31st portion of Ashland is poor, and the 31st to Grand/Chicago portion is less than sufficient to really intelligently discuss it, so my commentary is *always* focused on the Chicago to IPR portion of the route. This also happens to be the portion of the route with *much, much* less transit volume, and higher total traffic volume, so that’s the lens I’m looking thru.

    This really might be the bestest transit concept *ever* from 95th to 290, and I’d have to take someone’s word for that. And if it really is ‘best ever’ there, then it’d be crazy not to at least extend it to the Division blue line stop, as a non-Loop connector there, which then makes it quite sensible to extend it up to the Clybourn Metra stop, but makes a turn around quite challenging, as there simply isn’t a lot of space there.

    But north of that is my real question. And, now that I mention the bus turnaround issue, WTF are they going to do at Cortland/Armitage (maybe cortland-elston-homer-ashland–assuming the interim stop is s of cortland–if it’s N, whooo-boy) when that’s the temporary end point and at IPR when that’s the end point? The 95th end has a bus turnaround already in existence in front of Walgreens, south of 95th, so that’s easy. And the interim south end probably uses Archer in some fashion.

  • Fred

    Realistically, what would adding 3-4000 more trips to Western between Chicago and IPR do to traffic? What percent increase of current usage is that?

  • Ryan Wallace


  • Wewilliewinkleman

    cjlane: I don’t always agree with you, but I must say you make some very fine points. If you look at the EA one of the appendices shows an arial view of Ashland from beginning to end. There are three choke points where CDOT shows where BRT and cars will have to share the road. I believe these are under various old railroad viaducts. I believe they shows Ashland/Elston/Armitage as one of those.

  • Ryan Wallace


  • cjlane

    All depends on *when*.

    Also, Western and Halsted are each a mile away from Ashland–so, for a 4 mile trip, that could be a 50% increase in travel time *before accounting for added congestion*.

    I get that *no one* here gives a sh** about people who drive (aka “cars”, so that you can excise the human element), but that approach doesn’t help to persuade anyone.

  • Fred

    You wouldn’t take an alternative route if your start and end are both on Ashland. You would be one of the remaining cars slowed down 10%. The alternative routes are for people just using Ashland as an intermediary street where your start is on one side of Ashland and your destination is on the other.

    I own a car, 2 bicycles, walk to work, and regularly use public transit. I’m sure I’m not the only contributor on this site who drives. Broadly classifying everyone on this site as a car-hater doesn’t help your case either.

  • cjlane

    As noted elsewhere in this thread, I should have confined my question to the portion of Ashland between 500 and 4000 North.

    I’ll accept your conclusion that south of 500 north it is over-designed.

    North of there it is used by 2 parking lanes, a heavily used bus route, a ‘regional’ arterial and a decorative/runoff reducing median, and remains a terrifying route to attempt to use as a cyclist at most times, especially south of Belmont. Is the roadway not at capacity much of the day? Yep (so, btw, are parks and schools). Is it a flipping disaster when the intersections are still at a LOS of about a C (and maybe a B)? Yep. If 10% (1/3 of 1/3) of those peak-time-traveling people making Ashland a disaster move over to Damen, can Damen handle it? Nope. Halsted? You’re kidding, right?, plus–a mile the wrong way for many. Western? *Maaaaaybe*, but also the ‘mile the wrong way’ issue, and in the Fullerton/Elston area and around Lane Tech the LOS is already beyond crap at peak.

    I grok that the real point is about getting people out of cars and onto the bus, but the sale pitch can’t be (and isn’t!) mainly about that, bc most of the people that are going to be affected won’t get on the bus–the projection is for 10,000 more riders (a really strong number, actually), and for something like 25,000 evaporated person-trips (this would be great news, truly; I do question it being that high, but on feel, rather than data), with 75,000 displaced person-trips–because it doesn’t actually take them were they need to go, *at least north of Grand* (again, 95th to Grand? I’ll take your word for it, bc I just dont have the experience).

    And, even thru that, y’all are stuck arguing against the bozos associated with the Ashland-Western Coalition who are just reactionaries, without much more than “oh noes, change scares me! and it should scare you too.” Their flyer for handout sez:

    “The proposed Ashland BRT calls for a historic, fundamental Ashland transformation with monumental implications for residents, churches, schools, social service agencies, neighborhoods & businesses near Ashland and citywide”

    and, of course, the response is “duh, that’s the whole point”. They’re even trying to scare the people who use the (obviously to-be-eliminated-eventually) local bus service, while also proposing to really cutback the local bus service. Their argument is a muddled mass of half-accuracies, without any real thought into it.

  • cjlane

    Thx. I don’t think anyone should always agree with me (even if I think we should all agree that I am mainly correct (ha)), but I am interested in this being a *better* project, bought into by the public in a ‘better’ (intentional distinction b/t emphasis and squishiness) process.

  • cjlane

    “Broadly classifying everyone on this site as a car-hater doesn’t help your case either.”

    You are right, I was overbroad. I apologize; I was wrong.

    But, that is about 50% of the responses I get: essentially “who cares about the cars?” And I don’t think I have received a response that deals with the 75,000 *people* in those cars who are going to take different routes–just “cars”, as if the cars have agency and the people in them do not.

  • Fred

    All of my posts above refer to “user”, “you”, “traveler” and “driver” and not the car itself.

  • cjlane

    Fine fine. You are right again. I owe you a specific apology.

    Of course, we are still talking about 75,000 people (in 50k trips) being diverted, after accounting for trip evaporation, compared to 40k bus-riders.

    Anyway, will you jump in on my (or whoever’s) behalf the next time someone responds with “who cares about cars”?

  • Fred

    That just brings us back to my quality-of-life statement above. Minorly (or negligibly) negatively impacting a larger group to majorly positively impact a smaller group is worth it.

  • cjlane

    ” Minorly (or negligibly) negatively impacting a larger group”

    But we don’t actually have data backing that up.

    We have estimates that *those who continue to use Ashland* will have a minor negative, yes. If that were 85% of the issue, then I’d only be picking nits (oh, and the illusory retention of the local 9, the parking-retention thing, and the back and forth about bike accommodations).

    We have *nothing* on 75,000 other people (or, to make it scary, 27,000,000 per year) directly affected, and *nothing* on the e-w route effects for private auto passengers and mass transit users, and *nothing* on the alternate route effects except some platitudes about Chicago’s great grid system (which is of dubious utility over the ~3 mile stretch I’m focused on–I’ll stipulate on y’all’s representation that it’ll be perfect south of Grand).

  • jeff wegerson

    Yes I redid my numbers and they agree with yours. Actually mine came out 14/86. Glad to see my latest model agrees with yours.

    The next question is how much improvement versus how much degradation. I haven’t modeled that yet but I seem to recall that it will be a great improvement for transit riders and a manageable degradation for car riders.

    But even after that we historical reparations to consider. (Now that will be a controversial notion.)

  • cjlane

    “I haven’t modeled that yet but I seem to recall that it will be a great improvement for transit riders and a manageable degradation for car riders.”

    If you only consider the private autos remaining on Ashland, the degradation there will be manageable–at least as modeled, which assumes about 1/3 of private vehicle trips abandoning Ashland. No one models the service degradation for those 50,000 (using 25% evaporation) trips, and the knock-on degradation for the ‘existing’ users of transit and private vehicles on the ‘alternate’ routes for those 50,000 trips.

  • jeff wegerson

    Sorry for late reply. My model now computes that Ashland will go from a 5 to 1 car centric advantage to a 2 to 1 transit centric advantage.

    The effects on transit of the shifting of traffic to Western can be solved by the Western BRT. Damen transit will suffer. But with the speedups of Ashland and eventually Western transit, it becomes reasonable for those taking long trips on Damen to switch over to the BRTs.

    As for drivers, well, my solution for them is to learn to live in the city or move to the suburbs. We need a place that is not car centric. And the best place for that is dense urban cores.

  • cjlane

    “My model now computes that Ashland will go from a 5 to 1 car centric advantage to a 2 to 1 transit centric advantage.”

    So, that means private vehicle traffic on Ashland will speed up!!. Since the BRT projection is for 40,000 transit users, that would mean (at most–no autonomous cars yet!!) 20,000 private vehicle *on the whole of Ashland* in the project area. Which, given that current max usage is about 20% of total usage, and then call it 25% bc Ashland will be such an easy trip, means about 5,000 daily users at any give point. Basically empty!!

    Someone should trumpet that.

    Also, as always, there’s the big F.O. to those who do something different–“learn to live in the city or move to the suburbs”–so, should the BRT opponents and skeptics say to you “learn to live in Chicago, or move to Holland”? Both are risible statements.

  • jeff wegerson

    “So, that means private vehicle traffic on Ashland will speed up!!.” Don’t see your logic? My model measures how much of the street per current user compared to per future user. It’s a simple geographical model based on how much space each user occupies at a given moment. The rest of your numbers are lost on me. Yes the BRT lane would be empty almost all the time but I assume the car lanes, and I do count parking, they are just cars driving very very slowly, will be jammed most of the time. Wouldn’t you make those assumptions? (well maybe you don’t count parking as car use. But that’s your call. What’s more important, driving or parking.)

    I’m glad you are sensitive to my “big F.O.” It’s about having freedom of choices. If we force the city to be like the suburbs there is less choice. You get that right. That is all I am saying. I want there to be quality suburbs for car drivers and quality urbans for non-car riders. Right now in Chicago there is a shortage, imho, in quality urban spaces and that shortage is addressed by things like BRT.

    I express that view by saying that the whingers have lots and lots of quality suburban spaces to express themselves in the Chicago area but we have only the inner and near inner city for quality urban spaces. I know many people have trouble handling change. I get that and I feel for them even as I say they just need to suck it up and move to the suburbs.

    Look, I am mostly a driver. I am going to be impacted negatively by the Ashland BRT. I get driver’s pain. But at the same time I recognize the net gain for my lifestyle by the fact that my surroundings as a whole will improve.

    And I assume you mean New York or some other more local imagined non-car utopia than Holland. But I am a Chicago chauvinist and I want to have high-quality, world class, urban spaces here as well.

  • cjlane

    “Don’t see your logic? ”

    ok, maybe the actual meaning of “go from a 5 to 1 car centric advantage to a 2 to 1 transit centric advantage” is different from the plain language meaning.

    The plain language meaning is that, currently, for every 1 transit user of Ashland, there are 5 private vehicle users (which I think is pretty well established as a statistical ‘fact’)–and that the shift will change it to 2 transit users for every 1 . The Pro-BRT reports (ie, as favorable to transit as can be reasonably made) estimate that daily use of BRT will be about 40,000, which would then–using your “2 to 1 transit centric advantage” imply only 20,000 private vehicle users, or about 15,000 private vehicle–*using the whole of the project route*–which would imply a ~90% decrease in the number of private vehicle users on Ashland, which isn’t *remotely* baked in to the estimates of diverted traffic, or the speed of remaining private vehicle traffic on Ashland (which would go **way** up, if there were 90% less traffic).

    So, if that’s not what you meant, please clarify. If that *is* what you meant, I would suggest that your model is off.

    Anyway, I’m not against BRT, I simply think that this plan is about 30% baked, and the salespitch is disingenuous (esp the “retained” local bus) and the stupid sops to retained free parking and the (occasional) equivocations about adding left turns, and the non-thorough discussion about how Ashland will be, in some ways, a barrier akin to a limited-access highway, and the insane “we can’t make pedestrians cross N-S for safety reasons” and the “we don’t need to make it a bike route, bc no one bikes on it now” (so, we shouldn’t make the River recreationally usable, bc it isn’t now?) etc etc.

    Also, on another thing I don’t get, I don’t know what you mean by “I do count parking” in the context of the “2 to 1 transit centric advantage”–again, under plain meaning, I read *that* as saying that a parked car counts as one of those 20k daily users. Makes the result of the model even more absurd to me.

  • jeff wegerson

    Thanks for sharing you own views. I see already we are often on the same page.

    Imagine we took a snapshot of a five block stretch of the street. If we then added up the physical space each person was using by being on the street we would get, according to my model, car users using five square feet of space for each square foot of usage by the transit user. Then reassign the street usage for BRT and then the transit user would be using about two square feet of space per each square foot the car user would be using.

    I don’t have an elegant write up yet but I do have a current working draft here –> http://edgewaterobserver.blogspot.com/2014/02/ashland-brt-snapshot-usage-calculator.html

    30% baked might be an ok percent at this stage in the game. In fact if you are really looking for input then it might even be a good amount of baking. Enough to begin to get an actual taste but not so far along that important changes cannot be made.

    Me, I’m all in for the BRT. I believe, and it’s not just rational belief either, that this is a good moment for BRT, that Ashland is a good place for it, and that it serves many of the changing needs Chicago will require.

    I believe that the Ashland is a slippery slope to an Ashland tram as well as a gateway drug for future BRT streets. I am on record four years ago recommending that Peterson get a BRT because it would help Parisify the city. http://edgewaterobserver.blogspot.com/2010/01/parisifiing-chicago-peterson-ave-brt.html

    I honestly believe that opponents of the BRT would be happier in the suburbs. As I say, not all of my beliefs are rational.

  • cjlane

    “car users using five square feet of space for each square foot of usage by the transit user. Then reassign the street usage for BRT and then the transit user would be using about two square feet of space per each square foot the car user would be using.”

    Ok, now I understand what you meant. I think it’s goofy, but whatever–can discuss things I think are goofy in a serious manner, so long as I know the terms.

    IF you’re counting parking, still have no clue how you get there (5:1 and 1:2), on either side of the equation, but *esp* do not see it on the 1:2 transit advantage. There will be 4 lanes mostly dedicated to private vehicles–call it 3.5 to account for right turn lanes, (temporary) retain local 9 service, etc–so you need *7* lanes for transit–even if you count 100% of the sidewalk and the median in favor of transit (I wouldn’t; even as to the median), still only at 5. Which is less than a 1.5:1 advantage for transit. Using the ‘per sq ft’ usage, I *might* call it even. Would have to mostly discount the parking area used to get to 2:1, using any sort of neutral-ish assignment for the median (excl the brt stops, of course–which are 100% transit) and the sidewalks (which 100% of car *parkers* on Ashland use).

    Anyway, since the forecast is *still* for a 2:1 *use* advantage in favor of private vehicle users, think that the whole salespitch is likely to be used against future BRT. And the whole ‘anyone who raises issues will be treated like a ‘carmaggedon’ bleating fool’ is not helpful in a political process.

  • jeff wegerson

    In the link I provided I have graphs and explanations of my methodology. I doubt that you would want to dig into it at a level to begin to understand it fully. But if you think you might then I would suggest that we conduct a live discussion between us in order to facilitate communication. It’s entirely possible that some very obvious objection to my thinking exists that I have overlooked. I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination.

    Yet I have given the idea a lot of thought. I think the ideas and methods are defensible and not totally crack-pot. But, of course, even if they are interesting, as you suggest, they might not be of any real use in the process of creating support for an Ashland BRT.

    Below is the link again. Perhaps give it a cursory quick look over. I start right off with a graph showing the lane usage assumptions that I make.

    I would be happy to meet you somewhere of your choosing and time to kick this thing around. I will buy the beer or coffee or whatever.


    See link above.

  • cjlane

    Ah, somehow missed the “per person” part.

    I would note that the forecast speed is about at par bt BRT and autos. And the ‘tree’ share should go up with BRT, unless/until someone tells us that the median will be a Jersey barrier, rather than planted.

    “not totally crack-pot”

    Agreed. Still think it’s goofy, which isn’t a bona fide negative–lots of times that’s the germ for a great idea. Just–to me–thinking about streets based on a psf usage is odd, and not really the point (which is, too me, about getting people to and fro while not making the city awful).

    But for the parking meter issue, I’d support near elimination of the street parking on Ashland, which would eliminate the issue of the allocation to parking.

  • jeff wegerson

    Re the Parking ripoff: the city is allowed to find replacement spaces for ones taken. But yeah what a screwed deal it was. At the time I wanted to charge Daley with collusion in a theft or some such actual crime.


More Logic-Free Statements About BRT From Alderman Cardenas

12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas has said plenty of backwards stuff about the Ashland bus rapid transit plan, in the Tribune, on Chicago Tonight, and on Twitter. With his latest comments in today’s DNAinfo piece on BRT, Cardenas shows just how little he understands the project he’s been criticizing.“I don’t want my community to be […]