Today’s Headlines for Friday, April 21

  • Hertz: A Proposal for Making Transit Work Better on the South Side (SSW)
  • Man Stabbed in the head on Red Line Near Sox/35th Station (ABC)
  • CTA Says Lincoln Bus Pilot May Be Canceled Due to Low Ridership (DNA)
  • Inspector General’s Office Calls for Abolishing Ward Menu Funding Program (Tribune)
  • Plan Commission Approved 250-Unit, 173-Space Tower Next to Metra in Hyde Park (Curbed)
  • Wabash Lights Team Hopes to Raise Money for Block-Long Installation (Curbed)
  • 26-Cycle Bike-Sharing Program Comes to Valparaiso, IN (Tribune)
  • What’s the Best Connection Between the North Branch Trail & Des Plaines River Trail? (Chainlink)
  • New Survey Asks What Are the Barriers to Bicycling in Park Ridge (PRHA)
  • Park Ridge Holds Bike Sale on 4/29; Unsold Cycles Go to Working Bikes (Journal Online)

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  • Hertz’s article is really good. He covers a lot of ground succinctly and knows his subject matter intimately. And when he gets to buses he is totally on target.

    But, and really this is friendly criticism, as I read the article I was on the lookout for my own personal axe, BRT. Since he ground none of my axe, allow me.

    Now I get that BRT in some respects is an acquired taste. I get that in a lot of ways as a concept it is counter intuitive and it rubs against the grain of every automobile driver out there. And since a lot of the south side is medium to lowish density single family homes, BRT is not really optimal in a lot of ways at this time. Which means there are a lot of people dependent on driving. People who will rise up against BRT if it is not implemented well. Hell, look at John’s most recent Reader article about having to devolve a bike lane because of a likely very small number of parkers.

    At the same time the south side is so ready for BRT. I once mapped the frequency of transit in Chicago using the CTA data. Surprise, surprise the most frequent street for buses was 79th street. It actually had more frequent service than the Red LIne. I never questioned that bit of data and not until just now have I googled-mapped the street view and satellite view. (When I did the work I don’t think there was a street view.)

    So maybe I had an error in my approach or maybe they just send a lot of buses down the street to the barns on the street. What ever.

    What I was expecting was something similar to Lawrence or Devon on the north side. And I sort of found that, but with a big difference in the number of empty lots in the business parts of the street.

    So whereas I considered 79th a model BRT opportunity then I actually still consider it one now. And whereas I consider Lawrence an important candidate for BRT because of the need for northsiders to get to and from the airport and because of the wealth of small storefront visitors, I also recognize the difficulty of of taking away the parking on Lawrence because of the business density.

    You see where I’m going don’t you. The ability to create alternate off-street parking is plentiful on 79th. much more so than Lawrence. And if the parking is created in the back of the lot off the alley there is room for new business development on the front of the empty lot. And voila’ we have transit oriented development.

    Rinse and repeat all over the south side.

    And the thing is a lot of it can be done in incremental bits and pieces. Sure some pieces would be pretty big. It’s sort of like how Paris keeps increasing the dedicated bus lane-age without ever declaring BRT.

    And in many ways south-siders have already been primed for BRT with the Jump. Not to mention the Ashland BRT proposal. I am inclined to believe that there was less opposition from the south to the Ashland BRT than from the north. Correct me if I am wrong.

    So that is why I wish that Mr. Hertz had at least addressed the concepts of BRT in his article. We are going to have to get people used to thinking of the great and good things about BRT if we are going to need to dampen opposition.

  • Pete and RePete on the number 11.

    Once again no one is framing the issue in a constructive manner. A constructive way to frame the issue of the #11 (and the #35?31? on the south) is by type of route, either “ridership” or “coverage.”

    Now this is hard for us here to discuss because the CTA doesn’t discuss it that way. The CTA doesn’t because…well because. Actually I assume that there are some people at the CTA who understand the concepts involved in “ridership and coverage routes” but since they have not yet been able to bring those concepts to a priority position within the CTA the CTA has not taken the steps necessary to use those concepts.

    A transit agency with a limited budget (is there one that doesn’t have a limited budget?) would make their public relations life easier by adopting the concepts. The first step is to collect public input on the question of what percentage of the budget is to go to each of ridership routes and to coverage routes. The next step is to assign all routes to one or the other.

    And then you fight it out whether a route is meeting the needed requirements to exist in its assigned category.

    So to use #11 as an example. Is it a ridership route or a coverage route? The CTA is treating it like a coverage route when it says it is serving the elderly shopping crowd. But then it turns around and treats it like a ridership route when it says it is not meeting the ridership goals to support it.

    Now if I were cynical I would say the CTA knows very well what it is doing and pulling a bait and switch on its riders. But honestly I don’t think so. At least not consciously. I just think they have not reached the more enlightened level of transit agency consciousness.

    So what benchmarks should be used to judge the #11 if it is to be considered a coverage route and not depend on the number of riders to justify its existence. It would need to defend itself relative to all the other coverage routes. Are the elderly seniors (if that really is the intended demographic to cover) more needy of coverage than elderly (or whatever) seniors somewhere else? Does the CTA eliminate the #11 coverage route or some other coverage route?

    Or does the CTA change the percentages going to each category? That is a question that must wait until the next poll of the entire CTA population. What ever that is.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I think CTA (and actually DPD) would be wise to understand that what is really tone deaf is their insistence that the #11 Lincoln and the Brown Line are mutually exclusive. Businesses and communities developed over a century + based on the #11. And since when do seniors not shop on the weekends?

    The #11 clearly was sustainable, using both your coverage and your ridership models. So taking what was one of the most popular bus lines out of commission was just foolhardy, no matter how they cut it.

    It’s like saying we don’t need the Milwaukee bus because of the Blue Line, or the State Street buses because of the Red Line, or the Blue Line downtown as it is redundant with the Red Line.

  • Or the Broadway bus because of the Red Line. I’m less persuaded by the century + of business community but I take your point there as well.

    Your points speak to the disengenousness of the CTA as well. That is to set up a so-called test under one criteria, coverage to use my language, yet judge it by another, ridership is under-handed.

  • planetshwoop

    Irving Park is the best candidate for BRT on E-W on the North Side. An “airport link” would only have to go from Damen to Pulaski — under 3 miles.

  • planetshwoop

    Coverage or not, there’s no one on that bus. It’s empty. I bike on Lincoln a few days a week, and it’s packed if there are 10 riders. It’s also slow — I bike at 10-12mph and easily pass all buses I come across.

    I don’t know why the ridership is so terrible. It feels like in some ways, Lincoln Ave has mirrored the bigger trends and become a lot more auto-centric. I don’t have data, or big points, just the endless traffic and mix of businesses that seem to be there.

    (And I’m starting to agree that the Brown Line isn’t the same. The stations are more residential than Lincoln-adjacent.)

  • what_eva

    I outright forget it’s there because of the stupid hours. I live near Lincoln, but it’s not useful for my commute, so I rarely can use it. When the odd case comes up that I should use it, I have to remember it’s even there. If it ran later and on weekends, I’d use it plenty.

  • Irving is the easiest and therefore a logical candidate for EW BRT. An airport link would need to go to Sheridan for optimum north side airport utility. Even then two transfers is pushing it.

    Really both Irving and Lawrence should be BRT. And really North, Fullerton, Belmont, and Peterson as well. With NS BRT on Ashland. Western and at least Cicero you begin to create a Paris quality rapid network.

    There will be a conflict of interest with ride hailing. While on the one hand the reduced need for parking frees up lineage for dedicated lanes on the other the increase in congestion will cause a power struggle for the laneage to be used for car travel.

    Smart cities will tilt toward dedicated bus laneage with possible compromises to allow limited ride-hailed bus/van useage of those lanes.

    Dumb cities will yield to the pressures of car riders. The dumbest cities that sold their parking souls to the neo-liberal banks won’t be able to do either.

  • Dennis McClendon

    As I understand it, CTA simply doesn’t have enough extra buses to run #11 or #31 before 10 am.

  • That’s a partial answer. It explains why no early service. But why quit the after 10am service if it is a coverage route?