Today’s Headlines

  • CTA’s Senior Safety Advisor Resigns After Sending Sexually Explicit Emails (Tribune)
  • Driver Fatally Strikes Cyclist, Injures Pedestrian in Lawndale (Tribune)
  • Driver Critically Injures Man Who Had Stopped in Aurora to Refuel His Daughter’s Car (Tribune)
  • Off-Duty Police Officer Dies After Crashing Car Into Median on 6000 Block of S. Cicero (Tribune)
  • Police: At Least 3 Cabbies and Ride-Share Drivers Have Been Robbed in Austin Recently (DNA)
  • Rail Advocates Call for Double-Tracking Amtrak’s Wolverine Route From Chicago to Detroit (SBT)
  • CTA Disagrees With WalkScore’s Transit Ranking Methodology (Tribune)
  • New Bus Service Added for Games at United Center (DNA)
  • Active Trans Goes MythBusters on 3 Fallacies About Biking

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Chicagoan

    Can’t say I agree with WalkScore’s methodology, either. Mostly because there’s no way that Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have better transit options than Chicago. Obviously, New York is the best in this regard and I can understand D.C.’s qualifications, but come on.

  • Anne A

    CTA’s argument that bus service should have equal weight with train service in Walk Score ratings is weak at best. What’s your experience with bus reliability and headway times vs. trains? My experience over many years has been that, in areas with bus service only, waits and travel times can be long and service unpredictable compared to locations with trains.

  • Chicagoan

    I don’t think they were saying that it should have equal weight, they were more saying that train service shouldn’t have double weight.

    I just think WalkScore, which is quite often panned by urban planners, is penalizing Chicago for only having heavy rail and bus service, whereas other cities have those “in-between” modes like light rail and trolley buses.

    Again, though, not sure why anyone would put much weight into what WalkScore has to say.

  • I don’t think that’s why we’re being penalized. The L is the same as the “in-between” modes because it goes to the same kinds of places as light rail and trolley buses (er, how is this different from a diesel bus?). The L comes more often than a lot of cities’ light rail routes.

    I think we’re penalized in their methodology partly because of the distance between homes and L stations on the expressways.

    The double weight that train stations get should actually help Chicago in the rankings because we have so many, but then again, some of them, i.e. the Metra stations on the South Side, have terrible frequencies.

  • rohmen

    I haven’t been to Boston or Philly, but I thought it was kind of laughable to place SF as number 2 in the country. I know more than a few Chicago transplants out there, and all of them miss Chicago public transportation. Outside of BART, the muni lines get a pretty bad reputation for reliability.

    I assume SF’s density has something to do with it, but I doubt many people in SF would list themselves as having “good” public trans. options.

  • If the listing is only by city limit boundaries then places like Chicago and LA are dinged in comparison to tighter more compact city limits places like SF and Boston.

    The ranking could possibly be improved for comparison’s sake by comparing total population above a particular score, say 90 or something. And yes a frequent bus should score higher than a seldom bus.

  • Chicagoan

    Boston and Philadelphia being above us makes sense because the actual size of their cities is much smaller, while they still have competitive public transit. This allows people in their cities to have better access than Chicago, where we do have some places that don’t have access to heavy rail at all.

    San Francisco just seems comical, though.

  • Chicagoan

    Our network of Metra rail lines seems like it could be made a competitive advantage, if we could figure out a way to leverage it as such.

    Metra fills in the gaps of the L really well, the service just isn’t there, as you’ve said.

    Some of the stations are pretty horrible, too. Nice to see Ravenswood get a new one, at least.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Chicago was definitely pushed down in the rankings by looking at city limit boundaries instead of metro areas. Chicago has areas where barriers like large rail yards or Lake Calumet cut off whole neighborhoods. Similar areas of other metro areas are often suburban, and therefore don’t hurt that city’s score. A better compassion would be comparing Chicago north of 35th Street to SF or comparing SF and Oakland combined to Chicago.

  • neroden

    Always use metro areas. :-( City limits are crazily arbitrary — ever looked at LA’s city limits?

  • Jarrett Walker’s take from 2012 with a ton of comments.

  • FYI – Jarrett Walker’s take from 2012 with a ton of comments.

  • Kevin

    >New Bus Service Added for Games at United Center

    Umm, am I missing something? I’ve been taking the UC Express for years now. In fact I think the Customer Service desks in the arena still have paper timetables listing a $1.75 cash fare.

  • Anne A

    Lots of excellent comments on that piece.

  • I didn’t read that yet, but I have a response and an article coming tomorrow.

  • BlueFairlane

    Other cities have similar areas inside their city limits that would affect the numbers in the same way. And while I’m sure most northsiders would love to cut Chicago off at 35th, that erases more than half the city.

    The only fair comparison is metro area to metro area.

  • Chicagoan

    Forget those Northsiders, the Southside is pretty great. Marquette Park is my favorite neighborhood on the Southside, and you’ll see some of Chicago’s best architecture in places like Hyde Park, Kenwood, South Shore.

  • Ah, that takes me back.

  • Can Metra afford to run that often?

  • planetshwoop

    Metra is only part of the equation — it’d also require getting the money from the Feds + State to run more often since they only have partial farebox recovery.

    There are other more modest challenges that you can work around but would have to be figured out — does the increased frequency of RR crossing gates impact emergency services, can you turn the trains around earlier than the far-flung suburbs and thus run where the density supports it, etc.

    Many other countries and regions use smaller railcars called DMUs to support this service. Unfortunately they aren’t used often in the US. Some of the problems stem from the regulations on what type of railcars they have to run on a right-of-way shared with freight, as I understand it. (See this:

    Metra has proposed using them for the STAR line (Joliet to Schaumberg) but this seems to be going no where.

  • Metra relies on municipalities to build new stations. I guess that isn’t the case for its Chicago stations because the city of Chicago, TMK, hasn’t spent any money on a new or renovated station. There are MANY Metra stations in TIF districts, including the Ravenswood, Peterson, and 35th/Lovana Jones stations, but I can’t find that any of them got TIF money.