Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, March 9

  • CTA Board Will Vote Today on $2B Contract for 846 New 7000 Series Rail Cars (Tribune)
  • Metra Expands System That Allows Employees to Report “Close Calls” Anonymously (Sun-Times)
  • USDOT: Illinois Will Get $71M Windfall for Transportation Projects From Unused Earmarks (Herald)
  • Active Trans: Why No Public Money Should Be Used for O’Hare Express Train
  • Number of Taxi Rides Taken From O’Hare Plummeted After Ride-Share Was Granted Access (DNA)
  • The March for Civil Rights for Immigrants Will Take Over Washington Park Tomorrow (DNA)
  • South Shore Line Offering Free Westbound Rides Next Week (Crain’s)
  • Fire Department Activity Delayed Red & Purple Trains on North Side (Sun-Times)
  • State Lawmakers Propose Allowing Concealed Carry on Public Transportation (SJR)
  • 2 Parking-Light South Loop Towers Go Before the Plan Commission Next Week (Curbed)
  • Addison Underbridge Connector Is Now the Riverview Bridge; Work Could Start in Late 2016 (DNA)
  • Man Jams Cell Service on Red Line, Forcing Riders to Pay Attention to World Around Them (Tribune)

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  • For CTA’s new rail cars, who do you think it will be?
    Bombardier, from Canada, which made the 5000-series?
    Or China South Railway?

    According to Crain’s, both have agreed to build factories in Chicago.
    Unless there are more orders that those train companies can generate from elsewhere in the United States, that factory would probably close after this order is complete.

  • How can it be economical to built a factory for just one short run of transit cars? That’s a LOT of overhead.

  • I’ll bite. Could it be that the factory just assembles parts manufactured in other places? Some maybe even large sub-assemblies?

  • Jeff Gio

    Not that familiar with the manufacturing industry, but maybe there are “fully-equipped” facilities available for rent, or they could lease space from an existing manufacture. Not sure on the feasibility, just a guess

  • planetshwoop

    You get TIF funds from the city, or tax breaks from the state to sweeten the pot a bit.

  • Jeff Gio

    CSR won a train car contract with Boston for what it’s worth

    Did I miss something? I can’t find either of the two bidders’ proposals. Does anyone have a link?

  • Re: Taxi Rides… Whatever happened to the city sponsored universal taxi app?

  • Yeah. I miss HailO.

  • Chicagoan

    I posted this a few weeks ago:

    My conspiracy theory is that the CTA is going to tap CSR for the new rail car contract. In exchange, Rahm will get a big chunk of change for his O’Hare express train project from a huge Chinese investor consortium.

    All of this orchestrated by Rahm and a CPC official at the Green Mill, perhaps in a back/hidden room :)

    The history of Chicago politics makes me think this isn’t far-fetched.

  • Mike C

    For the new CTA rail cars, is the design already set (7000 series) and this vote is only to decide who will make them?

  • I suggest bookmarking for that special “but bicyclists never follow any rules!” person in your life:

  • JeffParkNIMBY

    Supposedly, that started on February 1.

  • BlueFairlane

    Short or not, the run is worth $2 billion. That’s a big step toward making it economical all by itself.

  • Chicagoan
  • rohmen

    If they’re building 846 cars, or roughly half the CTA fleet, how short run is that really?

    I mean, I assume that’s likely a 4 or 5 year deal, right, with cars introduced in stages. Not to mention that once the first run of 846 is done, I’m sure they’re hoping to score the next run of 846 (you’d assume they’ll have the most competitive bid considering they’re already here).

  • planetshwoop

    NW side now has lots and lots of N-S trails, but terrible E-W connections. Going cross-town is terrible. So it’s neat that they’ll have the Riverview trail + bridge, but there is a gap btwn Montrose and Lawrence on the river and from the river anywhere to get east or west.

  • Also, the city seems to be building a lot of trail infrastructure intending it to be recreational or scenic — even when a lot of people are hungry for practical commute or daily-active-transpo routes. Which is why the 606 is suddenly full of commuters.

    Riverview is pretty, but NARROW: on its visualizations, it looks to be narrower than even just the center paved ribbon of the 606, which is pretty dang narrow when it’s even moderately busy, and Riverview will have fence/railings on both sides, not plantings someone can step off into to cede right of way.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Also most manufacturing plants only go 5-10 years before major overhauls. Auto companies retool factories every time there is a major change to a model. CSR probably had to either modify an existing factory, or big a new factory to fill this order.

  • Chicagoan

    I don’t think that the city doesn’t take seriously cycling, walking and other forms of transportation. I do, however, think that the city underestimated how popular The 606 was going to be as a commuting route. Makes sense, as it’s a pretty convenient option for people who live somewhat west of the Blue Line, but need to get downtown.

  • Yes. The design was set in the RFP that went out to potential bidders twice (the first one was recalled) over the past three years.

  • It’s exactly what Talgo did when it opened a train factory in Milwaukee to build medium-speed trains for the Madison-Milwaukee line (Walker killed that) and for the Cascades line from Portland to Vancouver. Talgo built the trains, delivered them, and closed the factory.

  • buddah

    Sad but true Steven, however Wisconsin politics is what had the brunt force of killing that deal. The saddest part is unless Talgo had other areas that wanted those cars( IE:, FL rail projects, East coast projects, texas projects or California all of which considered talgo then passed) it was going to be A dead plant regardless.

  • buddah

    Sadly your conspiracy theory is not that far fetched, yet the O’hare express line Rahm wants could be served with a heavy rail tie in similar to the one done in Toronto. Using metra and freight tracks form downtown and then building new track work to lead directly into Ohare airport. The only good part about that is that the rail cars Toronto uses for there airport route was built here in IL.

  • buddah

    There more than likely hoping to get the contract to modify the CTAs 3200 and 5000 series cars after the 7000 series are manufactured. This way all cars are interchangable ( currently you cant mix and match the cars) and then be able to stay in business by supplying parts for them all. Also if any other light rail system needs new equipment they could tool up easily for those as well ( example: St. louis metro, Detroit M-1 project and future extension lines that are planned, Milwaukee light rail project, and Minneapolis and St Pauls extension plan.) there could be recurring business for this plant in the future.

  • buddah

    Unfortunately Jeff in the US we have very, very few plants that actually manufacture rail cars anymore or are even tooled to do so, and almost none in the midwest. the closest to chicago is Nippon’s plant in Rochelle IL. they just finished the Metra Electric districts rail cars however there not currently equipped for light rail cars ( IE: CTA train cars) there tooled for heavy passenger rail cars ( just think Amtrak train cars). .

  • buddah

    Jeff thats pretty much all we do in the USA anymore they have people who just add parts ( from overseas) to a shell ( made overseas) and say look its made in America! we really dont “manufacture” rail cars anymore in the USA we just “assemble” them at best and thats the problem.

  • buddah

    Sadly the truth is your right if the city took into account how popular other forms of transportation were we would have dedicated Light rail in the city especially on N/S streets like Western, Cicero, Stony island, Ashland, etc with bike lanes adjacent to them, not every one on the CTA want to have to go into downtown by rail just to go back out to another part of the city.

  • There is a huge group of commuters coming from northwest-to-loop, and for some subset of them, the 606 is a new lower-friction option, sufficiently attractive to pull them (say) out of the Milwaukee peloton and get them to add a few more blocks to their run.

    CDOT apparently did not consider this to be a possibility. And similarly, Riverview isn’t built to expect heavy usage at any time — if you get more than twenty-five or thirty people on the segment between Addison and California Park at any one time it’s going to feel horribly jammed.

  • rohmen

    I’d say the amount of protected lanes (which admittedly could have been designed and placed better in many instances) the City has added in cuts against the idea that only spandex warriors of moms with jogging strollers are catered to here.

    The 606 and the Riverwalk are not commuting projects, however, despite whatever the City may say to the feds to get grant dollars. It’s not that CDOT or the Park District simply didn’t consider that people would want to commute on it, they just didn’t want to design it as a rails-to-trails type path, BUT still wanted the transpo. dollars to get it off the ground.

    To the extent that there’s enough money for both (which is always the rub), I think it’s fine to have separate transportation-driven projects and recreation-driven projects. I commute to work by bike daily, and I want a safe route to do so, but I also like hitching a trailer to my bike and taking my daughter for a leisurely ride on the 606.

    My point is almost no infrastructure is going to serve both purposes well, and I think the goal should be to encourage proper investment in both, not a forced compromise between the two in each project.

  • They’re not designed as commuting routes, but in the lack of anything better, they will be heavily USED for commuting, and ignoring that use is short-sighted design.

    Enough width that the slow movers can get off the trail to pause or just yield is necessary to avoid severely pissing off most of the users when it’s more htan just a couple people.

  • Elias Zamaria

    The “Man Jams Cell Service” link is broken. I think it is supposed to point to