Today’s Headlines for Monday, October 17

  • $15M Belmont Blue Upgrade Will Include Permanent Prepaid Boarding (Curbed)
  • Metra Proposes 5.8% Fare Hike to Take Effect February 1 (DNA)
  • CTA Gets $400K Grant to Incorporate Divvy Info, Payment Into Ventra App (FTA)
  • Ventra App Has Been Downloaded 1 Million Times (Tribune)
  • Tribune Looks at the Transportation Lockbox Amendment
  • Four ‘L’ Stations Will Receive Artwork From Award-Winning Artists (CTA)
  • Woman’s Arm Partially Severed in Kennedy Rollover Crash (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Gets 3 Years for DUI Crash That Killed Passenger (Sun-Times)
  • Police Warn of String of Robberies Onboard Forest Park Branch (NBC)
  • Ravenswood Residents Pass Judgement on Diverter Before Test Is Over (Tribune)
  • Ben Joravsky Discusses Divvy TIF Funding With Dave “Mr. Bike” Glowacz (
  • Hearing on Bike Improvements to Chicago, Sheridan in Evanston Tonight (Northwestern)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Reporting on the Metra fare increase, I was at the board meeting when this was approved. It was contentious, with the chairman voting against a 5.8% increase, preferring 4.8%. Without cutting operating costs, 4.8% is the minimum increase needed in order to have a minimum 52.5% farebox recovery ratio. The extra 1% increase is in order to throw loose change at a massive capital backlog, effectively purchasing two locomotives.

    The fare hike is also heavily weighted towards short distance commuters. The cost increase is the same for someone riding in from Kenosha as it is for someone riding in from Hyde Park, which is massively unfair. There is a fare structure review being planned for next year that should fix this, but there’s no reason to make the problem worse in the short term.

  • Matt

    I was wondering why there were news vans at the Belmont Blue Line station this morning.

    As for the Divvy/Ventra news… Would this allow people to pay for Divvy with transit benefit money? Also, I hope they release a combo-key that can take the place of the current Divvy key AND Ventra card.

  • Carter O’Brien

    RE: the Belmont Blue Line, sheltering people from the rain is great & that’s an attractive design, but where is the captured stormwater going to go?

    I hope they make some more functional landscaping improvements at ground level, because right now it floods with every moderate rainfall. There is a lot of space there for some native plantings, which would be more than an aesthetic improvement. If they tinkered a bit with the angle they could also incorporate solar PV into the design, which would really be cutting edge, as Chicago is chock full of solar array-friendly infrastructure that could be helping ease stress on the grid.

    I have been watching the pre-paid boarding, and with the kinks worked out it seems fine, but unfortunately it doesn’t really address the 800 lb gorilla of the Belmont bus lines chronic bunching problem. They may want to consider having some Belmont buses run express from the Blue Line to the Red/Brown/Purple, because whatever they have tried so far is clearly not working.

    But it’s a step in the right direction, I give the parties involved kudos for what could be a beautiful and highly functional L stop. The architecture and feel of the tunnel itself is stunning, it would be great to see the ground level rise to that level.

  • Matt

    Thanks for this info! That’s a bummer. I would use Metra more if the cost were closer to CTA prices for short distances. I’m right on the outskirts of Chicago, by two stations in the “C” zone. But, it’s $5 to go to the stop I’d need to go to.

  • planetshwoop

    Interesting to imagine if fare integration would put more people on the trains and solve this. My station — Forest Glen — is 10.2 track miles from downtown and thus zone “C”. It’s $5 to ride. If I go a smidge west, it’s $3.75 for Jefferson Park or even less for the CTA.

    If there were fare integration — a ride within the city of Chicago would have the same fare regardless if it is CTA or Metra — this could lower the fares for the city *and* hopefully increase ridership at the same time offsetting the costs of the lower fare.

  • Frank Kotter

    The Ventra – Divvy payment coordination could be huge! I also don’t know if there is any other city doing this presently. I know London, for example, doesn’t integrate the Oyster with the Boris Bikes. I currently use both systems as a business traveler and although I get on fine with perpetually dipping my credit card, I know this is a huger barrier for other cultures using it (Europeans) Also, this would be a great way to advertise the city in terms of simplicity of use.

  • Chicagoan

    I think the Belmont Blue Line station should be an apartment building with first-floor retail and the station in the lobby.

    Or, something like that.

    Regardless, I’m hoping the renovation encourages development in the area. Avondale is a cool neighborhood but the Belmont & Kimball intersection isn’t much to look at.

  • Matt

    I’d like to see something almost opposite of Metra’s Link-Up program, where you could get a discounted/specialized monthly pass in addition to a monthly CTA pass.

    If I could get unlimited CTA rides and unlimited A-C rides within commuting times for around $150 I’d be very, very tempted. Currently, a monthly A-C pass with Link-Up would be $193 but that only includes unlimited CTA access within commuting times. I need it the other way around.

    I would think something like this would be very doable with the Ventra App, where the Metra pass would only be usable during specific times.

  • Ald. Ramirez-Rosa’s newsletter says that the plan for rejiggering the intersection at Elston/Grace/Bernard (at the Abbey Pub, a block north of Unique) have completed the design phase and are waiting for IDOT approval.

    The design includes refuge islands and buffered bike lanes.

  • kclo3

    Most bike-share systems in China have incorporated transit fare integration since implementation. The Asian IC card model is a true wonder.

  • hakuna matata

    Great for incorporating Divvy into the Ventra app. But $400,000? For maps and payments? Taxpayers continue to get ripped off on anything and everything.

  • Does anyone know what happened at Michigan and Lake this morning?

  • Anne A

    Having some rain garden areas with native plants would certainly help with the flooding issue.

  • Anne A

    I really HATE the fact that they’ve been disproportionally whacking those of us with shorter commutes. I buy a Zone C monthly, which has increased 33% in the last 3 years. This latest proposed increase (8.5%) would bring the price to a hair under $150/mo – a 59% increase from 3 years ago. I crunched the numbers – most longer distance commuters would have an increase closer to 4 or 5%.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Yep, the new bioswales have made a huge difference right down Kimball at the Woodard Plaza by Crown Tap, no more giant lakes (or frozen lakes), thankfully!

  • planetshwoop

    Option for Dearborn bike lane perma-puddles? (not really)

  • planetshwoop

    Sounds cheap to me.

    You have to test it across dozens of phones and networks, and integrating payment systems isn’t something you do lightly.

  • Pat
  • Anne A

    No room. Nice thought, though.

  • planetshwoop

    I feel like we should get one of those brown wooden signs and name it “Lake Dearborn State Recreation Area” bc it is so permanent.

  • dr

    You think 400k is expensive for significant updates to an enterprise app, the consolidation of two payment systems, and the integration of existing point of contact system with new financial clearing system?


    That is almost definitely a seed grant that won’t pay for the entirety of the consolidation.

  • david vartanoff

    Good Idea!

  • Anne A

    There should be more than one – Lake Daley and Lake Kluczynski come to mind.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Recent comments on the ANA social media posting suggest landscaping improvements will be part of the plan, as well as (supposedly confirmed by the alderman) an elevator. Not buying that $15m will cover all of that, but I’m super happy to see the community so strongly come out in support of improving accessibility and coming into line with ADA regulations.

  • what_eva

    It’s ludicrous and lazy that CTA doesn’t use the data they have to help with bus bunching. Especially on the Belmont bus where there are two major points where people get on and off in the Blue and Red/Brown/Purple stops. If a bunch of buses is arriving at one of those stations, make some express. eg, 3 buses eastbound at blue, 1 goes express all the way to Red, 1 to Western, 1 local. 4? 1 to Red, 1 to Damen, 1 to California, 1 local. etc, etc. That gets the early buses back on schedule and slows down the later ones that are probably running ahead.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I’ve been riding the buses my whole life, particularly the Belmont one, and for the life of me I can’t fathom how the bunching has actually gotten WORSE since the advent of GPS tracking. CTA drivers were seemingly more empowered back when they just used walkie-talkies.

    So yeah, the pre-paid boarding sounds lovely in theory but it isn’t doing anything to solve the problem of the buses playing leapfrog all along the route.

  • Matt

    I get on/off at the Cumberland terminal frequently. It’s pretty crazy how often I see a buss pull out of the terminal about 1-2 minutes after the previous bus departed. I can still see the previous bus loading passengers at Pioneer…

    Just yesterday I was on an eastbound bus home, with the intention of getting off at Milwaukee. Right around Cicero I checked my transit app to see 4 buses were within a minute of each other arriving at Milwaukee, including the one I was on. Frustrating indeed.

    No, prepaid boarding at the Belmont blue line station will not help this issue.

  • what_eva

    Even if traffic is worse now than in the past (no idea if that’s true), why on earth are they not using that GPS data? You could easily write some software that could alert when a bunch happens and then a supervisor could have someone go express.

    The theory is that pre-paid boarding will still help because there will be less dwell time at the blue line. Shortening the dwell time from 5-7 minutes to 2-3 will help get rid of that bottleneck which can have downstream impacts all along the route.

  • what_eva

    A suggestion I read somewhere is to do express like they do in some other cities. Nobody has to get off, but the bus that is behind schedule stops picking up new riders and only stops when requested until it gets to a waypoint (L stop, bus connection street) or back on schedule


Today’s Headlines

CTA Pays $245K to Additional Vendor to Make Ventra Courtesy Calls (CBS) City Divulges More Details of Cold-Weather Divvy Plan (Sun-Times, Tribune) Veteran Courier Mike Morell Provides Tips for winter Divvy Riding (Sun-Times) Starting November 12, Undocumented Illinoisans Can Apply for Drivers Licenses (Sun-Times) Family of Woman Killed in Garbage Truck Crash Suing Village of […]

Today’s Headlines

CTA Reaches 15 Million Ventra Card “Taps” (CBJ) Red Line Rehab Has Gone Smoothly, Ventra Launch, Not So Much (RedEye) An Update on the Status of CTA Cards Linked to Federal Transit Benefits (Tattler) Chicago Amtrak Ridership Is on the Rise (Sun-Times) 3 Killed, 5 Injured in Head-On Crash in Aurora (Tribune) Several Injured After […]

Today’s Headlines

120-Plus People Showed Up for North Side BRT Hearing (Expired Meter) More Writeups of the South Side Open House (DNA, Chicagoist, Medill) Tranpo Experts: BRT Is an Affordable Way to Build New Rapid Transit Lines (Medill) Father Pfleger Accuses CTA Union Boss of Killing Ex-Offender Program (Tribune) All CTA Buses Have Been Outfitted With Better […]

Today’s Headlines

Alderman Arena Upset About Not Getting Veto Power on Speed Camera Locations (DNA) City Passes Ordinance for Stiffer Penalties Near Transit Stops (DNA) CTA Promises to Extend 111th Street Service to New Walmart (Tribune) New Ventra Users Gripe About their Experiences (Tribune, NBC) CTA Mailing Out 15,000 Ventra Cards a Day (RedEye) Man Who Killed […]

Today’s Headlines

Pedestrian Killed in Taxi Crash by Midway Airport; Driver Not Charged (Tribune) City Debuts Divvy Cycles at Bike the Drive; Memberships On Sale This Week (Tribune, Sun-Times) Squire Softens Bike-Share Contract Protest; Reilly Nixes Mag Mile Docking Stations (Crain’s) Bike the Drive Opens LSD to Thousands of Cyclists (Tribune, RedEye, CBS) CTA Offers South Siders […]

Today’s Headlines

Bus Company to Pay $6.75 Million After Artist, 26, Killed in Right-on-Red Ped Crash (Tribune) CTA Says It Has Ventra Bugs Under Control (ABC) Cook County Commissioners Debate Making Changes to the Metra Board (Tribune, Sun-Times) Editorial: An Interim CEO Is Fine, But Metra Needs a New Board (Tribune) Green Line Service Back on Track […]