AWC Asks Aldermen to Take a Stand Against Effective Transit

Alderman George Cardenas has been an outspoken opponent of Ashland BRT.

Yesterday Roger Romanelli’s anti-bus rapid transit group the Ashland-Western Coalition made its most overtly political move to date. An email from the coalition urged members to lobby their aldermen to oppose the CTA’s plan, implying the AWC will campaign against politicians who support it. “The Chicago February 2015 election is ahead,” Romanelli wrote. “It’s time for Aldermen to declare their Ashland BRT positions. Are they with the people… or do they support a costly, disruptive BRT?”

The email offers to connect recipients with other BRT opponents in their district, and exhorts them to attend their local ward service night with others to ask the alderman where he or she stands on the issue. A list of “key aldermen” whose districts include Ashland, as well as a map of the 2015 ward boundaries, is provided.

While 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, the 32nd Ward’s Scott Waguespack, and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett have all voiced skepticism about the plan, the only one whose viewpoint on BRT is mentioned in the email is the 47th Ward’s Ameya Pawar. This summer he tweeted his support for the project:

“[Pawar] supports BRT despite its proposed ending at Irving Park Road before his ward,” Romanelli wrote. Actually, under the new ward boundaries, the northernmost mile of the system will run through the 47th. “We need his reversal or a new 47th Ward Alderman.”

The AWC is drawing a line in the sand, suggesting that aldermen who speak out for a more efficient and equitable Ashland are jeopardizing their careers. But the real question is, who’s going to declare themselves as the anti-transit aldermen? Which of these politicians is going to go along with the AWC and say they want to block better access to jobs, safer streets, and a more promising economic future?

Cardenas has a good start on going down in history as the alderman who tried to deep-six BRT. In December he appeared on Chicago Tonight, making a number of backwards statements about the plan. Just yesterday, Cardenas tweeted his opposition after reading a Sun-Times article that mentioned the city is considering permitting more left turns off of Ashland as part of the plan:

Romanelli has one thing right. It’s crucial for Chicagoans to reach out to their aldermen to let them know how they feel about BRT. If you haven’t already done so, send a message to your alderman asking them to endorse the CTA’s plan.

  • I’m an urbanist Chicagoan and I oppose Ashland BRT as well. You don’t cancel a busy, limited-stop express route because you “can’t afford” to operated it anymore, only to turn around and propose an astronomically more expensive option to replace it. Chicago doesn’t have money to waste like that. I support the return of the previous Ashland Avenue express route.

  • duh

    You can say you support the return of the Ashland Express route as many times as you want, but that won’t make it any faster than it was before (which is not fast at all because it still sits in traffic with every other vehicle).

  • Strong Takes 4 Lyfe

    Cool story. But the fedrell gubbamint will help pro-vide funding to BRT. What’s so astronomically more expensive? Certainly doesn’t come close to being anywhere near the cost of new, redudant high-ways, and I don’t see you picketing those. Theres the door.

  • SP_Disqus

    Oh wow, George Cardenas has another twitter interaction that suggests he has an extremely strong grasp of how traffic works:

    @DanielKayHertz: Alderman, what’s your plan for the 25% of Chicagoans who don’t even have a car? Bus speed now is *half* that of cars

    @georgeacardenas: the CTA fleet should have smaller, more agile buses first of all. Mega buses should not be allowed. Quality over quantity.

    Apparently, we don’t need to dedicate lanes of traffic to buses if we can build buses so slim that they can fit between two lanes of traffic.

  • CL

    Perhaps we’ve discovered the real identity of the skinny car guy who commented here a while back?

  • Fbfree

    BRT will be far cheaper (likely about 40% cheaper) operationally to run over the long-term than the existing local bus for the same passenger throughput. I’m guessing that that will save about 10 million per year. Given how the CTA budget is setup, the capital funds are largely outside money while the operating funds are source in whole from fares and city taxes. The old express bus is more expensive to run while BRT (as long as local service is significantly cut back) will make additional room in the CTA operational budget.

  • Anton Cermak

    He hilariously said that “spending is not the answer” a day after he approved issuing $900 million in bond debt as a member of the Finance Committee.

    BRT is the text book definition of an appropriate, reasonable G.O. bond expenditure, unlike, say, Aldermanic menu funds – which Cardenas is surely supports, despite his new found appreciation for financial conservatism. This, of course, is besides the point since the lion’s share will be supported by federal grant with the local match coming from a variety of sources – not all of which come from the City.

  • JKM13

    Wow. I would love to see what Cardenas means by ‘smaller, more agile’ busses and how the CTA should fund this overhaul of their fleet.

  • Alex Oconnor

    “[Pawar] supports BRT despite its proposed ending at Irving Park Road before his ward….We need his reversal or a new 47th Ward Alderman.” Romanelli wrote.

    Romanelli and his group lie again. Romanelli and AWC only offer lies, deception and mis-characterization.

  • Alex Oconnor

    It was ineffective and a waste of time and money and added to congestion with little if any time saving.

  • Alex Oconnor

    We must organize to vote out any Alderman who sides with the lying Romanelli and his coterie of lying stooges.

  • That’s not quite accurate. The #X9 Ashland Express was about 15 percent faster than the local buses, but that’s chicken feed compared to the 83 percent speed increase BRT will provide.

  • cjlane

    “lie again”

    Could be he’s just a bozo who can’t read a map. A mistake can just be a mistake.

  • cjlane

    “I would love to see what Cardenas means by ‘smaller, more agile’ busses”

    He undoubtedly means *shorter* buses, which have an easier time merging back into traffic after leaving a stop.

    He’s wrong, imo, at least that it would be feasible for this to do all of (1) speed service, (2) not cost substantially more, and (3) provide comparable capacity, but that’s no doubt what he’s talking about.

  • cjlane

    ” far cheaper (likely about 40% cheaper) operationally to run over the long-term than the existing local bus for the same passenger throughput. I’m guessing that that will save about 10 million per year”

    You counting the supposed continuing service of the Local 9? Not that I believe the local 9 survives even 18 months after completion of the full run, but CTA wants us to believe it will.

  • Fbfree

    True, I’m not counting the local. There will be quite strong financial pressures to get rid of it within the CTA once BRT is up and running.
    It will probably still make sense to run the local south of 63rd, and maybe all the way up to the orange line at 10 min frequencies on peak and 20min off-peak. The other option would be to increase the number of stops south of 63rd (say add stops at 69th, 77th, and every 1/4 mile south of there). This section of the route has the most local riders at present.

  • Alex Oconnor

    Or “Whereof what’s past is prologue”

  • Alex Oconnor

    A 15% difference in travel speed is hardly enough to drive a mode shift particularly given the X9’s tendency to get stuck and contribute to the same traffic problems as the normal 9.

  • Anne A

    I’m with John. The old X9 did not offer enough of a speed improvement to be worth re-introducing. BRT is likely to be much more efficient to operate, as well as providing faster, more reliable service.

  • Alex Oconnor

    I think that is pretty much what I said.

  • david vartanoff

    about the local ” There will be quite strong financial pressures to get rid of it within the CTA once BRT is up and running.” So, riders trying to access destinations not at the BRT stops will be written off as not worth serving???
    Here is where you see the utter craziness of this project. What is the rationale for abandoning service to the “local” stops? Does no one live, work, do business close to them but far from the rapid stops? Will the BRT run Owl service?

  • cjlane

    “Does no one live, work, do business close to them but far from the rapid stops?”

    Define “far”. And, if a *single* transit user is inconvenienced, is that supposed to be the death knell? There are 75,000 private vehicle passengers who are being displaced to no-one-knows-where, with no-one-knows-what-effect on non-Ashland travel times, and that’s not a bona fide issue to most. A handful of transit users who have to walk and extra quarter mile ain’t going to keep the Local 9 running. CTA has cancelled routes with much more use than the Local 9 will have at the (Greenfield supposed) twice an hour off-peak/3 to 4/hr on-peak frequency.

    “Will the BRT run Owl service?”

    If not, I have *another* issue with the plan. I had assumed that it would, but don’t recall actually seeing confirmation.

  • cjlane

    His history of lies lead inevitably to his inability to read a map? Or being a bozo?

  • Alex Oconnor

    Neither. Just more lies.

  • cjlane

    So, you prefer calling him a liar, allowing him to rebut with “oh, sorry, looked at the map wrong”, to “he’s a bozo, who can’t read a map”, where the only defense is “no, I was trying to mislead people”. Fair enough, but I certainly prefer to provide less weasel room.

    Note: it was wrong under the old map of the 47th, too, which bordered or included Ashland south to Addison.

  • david vartanoff

    Walking AN (not and) extra quarter mile is fine if you are in good shape–not all of us are all the time. I for one would probably forgo a trip to a particular merchant if it involved 1/4 mi each way on top of the walk to/from my nearest stop. It is NOT that I wish door to door, but making transit less functional doesn’t benefit anyone.
    side note in the late 60s I was a book salesman in several boroughs of NYC. In almost no case were there any viable bookstores more than a few blocks from a subway station or the crossing points of major bus lines. Thus I was easily able to do the job entirely by transit.
    As part of the Owl question it is normal to run locals, not expresses, so that riders have less onerous walks in the wee hours, it is also the case that most routes do not need to stop at each regular stop as ridership is spotty., and consequently more like an express w/far less auto interference.
    With these issues, ask yourself how valuable the BRT as proposed might be given that the custom bus fleet won’t be fit for Owl service and the shiny stations will only be used some of the day? Ask yourself why an auto should respect the unused lane during non-op hours?
    As a transit dependent person, I want improvements; so far the Ashland BRT needs lots of refinement.

  • cjlane

    “AN (not and)”

    Oh noes. You caught a typo. Good point!!


Support Better Ashland Transit? Your Voice Is Needed to Counter BRT NIMBYs

Roger Romanelli’s well-organized anti-bus rapid transit group the Ashland-Western Coalition is rallying their troops to oppose the CTA’s plan, so BRT supporters need to provide a show of strength as well. The transit authority recently released the long-awaited environmental assessment of their plan to create fast, efficient, ‘L’ train-like bus service on Ashland Avenue, and […]

While Pawar Leads on BRT, Waguespack and Cardenas Hem and Haw

Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch was on the wrong side of history when he more-or-less predicted Divvy would flop. He eventually acknowledged the bike-share program’s success, but he’s made the same mistake with this morning’s Getting Around column, an unflattering portrayal of the CTA’s plan for fast, reliable bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue. Hilkevitch […]

Except for Pawar, Ashland Aldermen Sit on the Fence When It Comes to BRT

Ashland Avenue BRT could be a transformative project for Chicago, demonstrating the benefits of re-orienting streets to prioritize transit and walking. Projected to nearly double bus speeds, improve reliability, attract new riders, and improve pedestrian safety, Ashland BRT could potentially be the first world-class bus project in America, designed to a standard that would receive the […]

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 […]

Correcting Cardenas: Better Buses Will Mean Better Access to Ashland

Appearing on Chicago Tonight last month, 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas made a number of ill-informed statements about the plan to create fast, reliable transit on Ashland Avenue. Most egregiously, he painted BRT as an “expressway” where “no one’s going to stop,” when in fact the project is going to help more people access Ashland Avenue. During […]

Alderman Pawar: “I Can’t Wait for Ashland BRT”

The bus rapid transit NIMBY group known as the Ashland-Western Coalition has been doing its darndest to get aldermen to sign on to its severely watered-down alternative proposal to the CTA’s plan for fast, reliable, “gold-standard” BRT on Ashland Avenue. Fortunately, response from local politicians to the coalition’s anemic “Modern Express Bus” proposition – essentially […]