Today’s Headlines for Thursday, June 14

  • Chicago Taps Musk and His Hypothetical Tunneling Tech for O’Hare Express Project (Tribune)
  • Scheinfeld Talks to WBEZ About Efforts to Address Chicago’s Pedestrian Fatality Surge
  • CTA Signs off on Purchase 20 All-Electric Buses for $32M (Tribune)
  • Man Dies After Falling Off Pedestrian Bridge Near Wrigley Building (Tribune)
  • WTTW Reporter and Triathlete Elizabeth Brackett Critically Injured in LFT Bike Crash
  • $5K Reward Offered to Find Driver Who Killed Motorcyclist Steve Lajin, 22 (WGN)
  • CBS Looks at Commuter Crowding Associated With Metra’s PTC Installation Schedule
  • Active Trans Looks at Bike Lane Uprising‘s Effort to Keep Bikeways Clear and Safe

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  • Matt

    We understand that Streetsblog is extremely critical of Musk, but what is not to like in this proposal? It’s far better than previously disclosed in terms of travel time and that the city won’t be on the hook for the stations at either end. As the deputy mayor has said, if it’s a gamble, it’s not the city’s.

  • rwy

    Good news about the electric buses. They can’t be delivered soon enough. The heat this weekend will likely break down the pollution into ozone.

  • Jeremy

    “As the deputy mayor has said”

    Nothing matters until it is in writing. I won’t believe the city has no liability until the contract is printed and scrutinized.

    I have no faith this can be built for the $1 billion projected. The Belmont brown line flyover is estimated to cost $570 million. The 5 mile red line extension is estimated to cost $2.3 billion. Elon Musk can deliver an underground transportation system more than twice the distance at less than half the price? His company can barely build cars.

    Has Boring Company created a tunnel this long anywhere? Have these sleds been built, even as a prototype, to make sure they can operate as described?

  • Would have liked to have seen the name of the electric bus manufacturer. I’m sure they are fine. Just for the info.

    As for attracting new riders, sure new tech may help but the biggest helper would be the very old tech of dedicated bus lanes. Come on Chicago lets get with it. We are lagging behind miles of bus lanes to so many other U.S. cities that it is becoming an embarrassment.

  • Musk wants to get his foot in the door of transit so bad he will promise anything. If we could only trust the Emanuel regime to get a good contract with Musk, then sure let him spend venture capital to do it. But Emanuel has already shown his corporate cronyism in things like school privatization and the parking meter reboot sell out. So odds are we can’t trust him here either.

    Can this work? Sure maybe. Can it make Musk the Amazon of transport monopolization? Not impossible. But tech monopolies are really bad economics. You, we, are already chafing at those bits. Social dystopias through and through. And that big time is what not to like.

  • Cameron Puetz

    If this experiment can be done at Musk’s risk, I’m all for it. We shouldn’t be adverse to a new technology just because it’s new and the promoter has rubbed people the wrong way. However the final contract needs to be carefully reviewed. Chicago has a history of deeply flawed public/private partnerships and the city council not reviewing contracts until after they vote.

    I don’t think the O’Hare Express should be a transit priority, but if it’s not public money, that’s irrelevant. I’m skeptical of Musk’s claims, but if it’s truly his risk let him try. The city just needs to be careful that they’re not backstopping Musk’s risk.

  • Tooscrapps

    Yah, I don’t buy the argument that quieter buses will attract more riders.

    A secondary benefit of dedicated bus lanes is the elimination of the stop/start jerks that you get while stuck in traffic. I know a few people who can’t stand riding buses because it makes them nauseous.

  • Jeremy

    One of my concerns is a put option embedded in the contract. Musk may take the financial risk of constructing the system, but he’ll have the option of selling back to the city at a fixed price at a certain date.

  • FlamingoFresh

    Since when are electric buses $900,000? Shouldn’t vehicles that are mass produced like this cost less? I understand it’s utilizing above average technology and it’s running on electricity but buses that cost more than a house doesn’t make sense. I’m all for electric buses but you’d think these cash strapped agencies would try to find a better deal than that.

  • FlamingoFresh

    There’s two steps for having successful bus lanes.
    1) Implement bus lanes
    2) Enforce bus lane violations by other vehicles

    If vehicles are free to occupy the bus lane with no consequence they will continue to use it for their own use and they will continue to slow down buses designated for these lanes.

  • Tooscrapps

    Automated or bus-driver camera enforcement:

    Much to your point though, for the southbound rush (7-9am) bus/bike lane on Clark, they need to install better signage and do 3 full weeks of ticketing and towing.

  • Jeremy
  • Jeremy

    I would be happy with experimentation with bus bulbs. On some streets, avoiding pulling over to the curb and merging back into traffic could probably save some time.

  • FlamingoFresh

    That’s an interesting read. It makes sense why it would cost more in comparison to several mass produced vehicles. Just not sure what part of the process is where these costs shoot up. Is it more so the labor or parts for the assembly. Even the link provided has a wide ranging cost for the buses $300k to $800k, a difference of another bus if your bus costs are on the low-end. The purchase of 20 buses as a whole should make the buses less in price per unit due to the bulk request of materials.

  • rwy

    To enforce the bus lane violations, why not have put a camera on the front of the bus, and allow the bus driver to issue a ticket by mail.

    But isn’t the bigger issue the parking meter deal? Can’t take away parking spaces to make bus lanes.

    When riding a bike down a street with a bus route, I’d much prefer they where electric buses instead of diesel buses.

  • Anne A

    On a long enough bus ride, I get nauseous from all the stop and go.

  • Anne A

    Lack of bus lane/bus stop enforcement causes gridlock in some parts of the Loop every weekday. I see it near my office every day. Cars block bus stops or lanes. Buses have to go around the cars if they won’t move. Other traffic bogs down. Buses are slowed to a crawl. It’s a lose-lose situation.

  • Anne A

    Yes!!!! Dearborn too.

  • Deni

    I’d love to see that all over the city. Plus it has the added benefit of not being a good spot to illegally park or taxis/ubers to sit.

  • FlamingoFresh

    I believe currently there are some laws and policies being passed in order to effectively ticket violators in the bus lane via video.

    The parking meter deal is a large over-hanging problem but if the city can manage to find side streets and other areas where they can relocate these spots so they can free up space for bus lanes then they can still maintain the number of spots and more importantly hopefully maintain the necessary revenue that the city promised in the deal.

  • The parking meter steal is dollar based not meter count based. And it’s based over a period of time. If all meters don’t make enough money in the period then the city pays. It they make extra the city collects.

    The point is that fewer meters don’t necessarily mean less money, just that fewer of the existing meters are available so it’s harder to find one. It also means that parking rates can be raised to make more money. etc.

    So no parking is not the issue for bus laneage. There are lots of side streets for more meters for businesses.

  • rohmen

    I’d like to thing they’d be smart enough to not allow a put option to go into it, as Musk would only ever do it if the project was a failure, and it makes no sense for the City.

    What I think is more likely is that Musk will go on the hook for the debt through Boring Company, but Chicago will guarantee the debt so Musk can get the financing. So, on paper, Rahm can say with a straight face that Musk will be paying for it all, but the real risk may end up on the City since Musk just has to fold and go bankrupt if cost overruns start to destroy it all and the lenders will just chase us.

    I think some of the Musk bashing is unwarranted, but that type of situation does get scary given how Tesla has operated so close to the edge for so long.

  • FlamingoFresh

    I like how the technology he’s proposing doesn’t currently exist but some how he has given an estimated travel time for it. If he’s designing the technology in place why not go faster and have a shorter travel time? It’s not like he has to base it off anything.

  • FlamingoFresh

    Once Musk has to deal with labor unions here in Chicago his project cost for the O’Hare Express will triple.