To current page on this subject, Gray Line. Metra home. Transit website home.
Report on Mike Payne's Gray Line Proposal as a way to get more service and ridership on the Metra Electric
service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking
Committee and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org
sections of the Transit Web have an initial sketch of a Silver Line or "Gray
Line Lite" (South East Chicago Rail Enhancement Team- visit Metra
'SECRET' page) proposal, fast gaining support from officials, Chicago 2016,
CMAP. We would like to see a large turnout in favor of these proposals at the
Nov. 18, 6 pm RTA Needs Hearing, Woodson Library, 9625 S. Halsted. Contact James
Website: http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRT3/GrayLineCoalition/ and http://www.grayline.20m.com
South Lakefront Transportation Corridor Study (Gold Line being one consideration). April 13 2011 there was an input opportunity and presentation at IIT 4:30 and 6:30- Almost all conceivable concerns were being taken into consideration or were raised. Input is still being taken and will proceed to recommendations by the end of the year-- probably quick fixes and a set of recommendations with costs. Comment at email@example.com- Brenda McGruder at CDOT, 312 744-6139.
Report on Mike Payne's Gray Line Proposal: A way to get more service and ridership on Metra Electric via a CTA contract. View his descriptive flyer
to the Gray Line Coalition.
We are a recently formed alliance of citizens, students, and community activists; who are seeking to promote, and secure funding for, the "CTA Gray Line 'L' Route" Proposal.
We are having weekly meetings on Tuesdays. (next Sept. 8)
We are meeting at the 47th Co-op 2nd floor meeting room, 7 pm.
Gray Line Coalition
August meeting dates:
7 pm to 9 pm, at CO-OP MARKETS, 1300 E. 47th St. (one block west of Lake
Park Ave.), in the Skyway (second floor) Conference Room. In August changes
Commuter prods CTA, Metra for new Gray Line
Hyde Park Herald, June 9, 2004. By Mike Stevens
Bronzeville-native Mike Payne has been prodding city and regional transit authorities for more than a decade to make a hypothetical "Gray Line" a reality for South Siders.
The plan calls for the Chicago Transit Authority to use Metra's southeast side electric line that Payne said would dramatically improve public transit in the area. But Metra officials say the plan is too vague.
In his 90-minute commute from Chatham to his job in the West Loop, Payne has had plenty of time to think about improvements. He think the southeast side needs a CTA line but knows the cost is almost impossible.
He began investigating Metra's southeast side electric line after noticing that on weekends and off hours loop-bound CTA buses were packed while Metra trains rolled past empty. "They can't be making money when no one is riding and they're paying people to operate them and power to push them along," Payne said.
The problem, Payne says, is that the CTA and Metra do not share fare systems. Few riders are wiling to fork over an extra $5.80 every day, even if it would mean saving 30 minutes, like Payne would. In addition, Metra trains come much less frequently during off-peak hours ; every 2 hours at times on weekends.
Payne starting looking for a better way to use it.
Like the CTA's trains, Metra's electric line has floor level platforms, closely spaced stations, and the quick starting and stopping power of electricity making it ideal for high traffic, Payne said.
Payne proposes Metra lease its service to the CTA, adding 22 miles and 37 stations, including four in Hyde Park, of new CTA service to the southeast side. A CTA fare system would be set up in the stations. He estimates the total cost at $100 million. The CTA estimates a proposed 6-mile extension of the Red Line will cost $600 million.
"[Payne's proposal] rises to the top on an awful lot of [areas]." Janice Metzger said. Metzger co-directs the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission- a transit watchdog group affiliated with the Center for Neighborhood Technology. In a 2003 study, the group ranked the Gray Line first amongst a field of projects from local, state and federal transit agencies.
"It's in an area that has existing population that serves a high number of people. It doesn't cost that much because it reuses existing infrastructure. There is a great deal of logic [to it]," Metzger said.
But Metra spokesman Dan Schnolis says too many unknowns remain to determine if the proposal would even work. For starters, Metra doesn't have a fleet of trains sitting unused waiting to provide CTA-like service--trains spaced 5 to 20 minutes apart--throughout the day.
"None of this has been defined. It's a concept of an idea," Schnolis said. Until there are further studies and the proposal gets "legs of its own," it is too early to consider the proposal, Schnolis said.
Metzger sees the problem in various agencies wanting only to find funding for their own projects rather than sharing resources."We don't have a process that looks at how do we benefit the region as a whole," Metzger said of [CATS-NIPC?] the Metropolitan Planning Commission [sic "Organization"--MPC is a different entity] which is charged with planning the long-term transit solutions fo the Chicago Area [Note, however that CATS has indeed put Gray Line in the hopper among options to be studied both for Metra Electric and Southeast Corridor service.]
For a decade now, Payne has promoted his plan by speaking to planning groups an handing outlines to residents, transit officials and legislators such as Hyde Park's Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie.
Congressman Bill Lipinski (D-3) has reviewed Payne's proposal and is deciding whether to forward it to House Committee on Infrastructure and Transportation, on which he sits, spokesman Jason Tai said.
After seeing the success of groups like Blue Line Task Force, Payne organized the Gray Line Coalition hoping to generate attention and funds for his idea. The group meets weekly but is still looking for a permanent location. For more information on meeting locations and the Gray Line proposal, go online to www.grayline.20m.com. [ http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRT3/GrayLineCoalition/]
Hyde Park Herald, June 30, 2004
In the June 9, 204 Hyde Park Herald article "Gray Line idea could add CTA trains to S. Side", Metra spokesman Dan Schnolis stated that "too many unknowns remain to determine if the proposal would even work".
"For starters" the article says, "Metra does not have a fleet of trains sitting unused waiting to provide CTA-like service. 'None of his has been defined. It's a concept of an idea, Schnolis said. "Until there are further studies and the proposal gets 'legs of its own,' it is to early to consider the proposal, Schnolis said."
Maybe Metra and Mr. Schnolis should do a bit more research.
The Gray Line is a highly recommended Major Capital Project (CATS Regional Transportation Plan Project ID #01-9003: "CTA Gray Line "L" Route) in the official planning for the future of the northeast Illinois region.
The Gray Line is in fact ranked and recommended by many northeast Illinois Region agencies far above Metra's own highly self-tooted STAR Line.
Metra has 165 Highliners, more than enough to provide Gray Line, and Metra Electric University Park services (even during rush hours).
For an in depth analysis, detailed information on the Gray Line proposal's rankings and recommendations can be downloaded and printed--for your review--from HPKCC's Transit web at [sic-it's this page, not transitregional.htm] and from the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission, which ranked the Gray Line the most eligible project for funding in the entire northeast Illinois region: http://www.cnt.org/tsp/ctaqc/projectscoring.htm.
Maybe after some induced and interested study, Metra and Mr. Schnolis might see things in a more inclusive light--I would like to hear his and their thoughts; we'll see (I hope it's not "No Comment.
Payne on CTA lobbying for funds and better options to allocate and coordinate scarce funds. July 3, 2004
While the City and CTA very correctly state that without an increase in operating funding, CTA fares will have to be raised and some services cut; this is well known here and in Springfield.
It is also known that some
of the extremely scarce operating funds that the CTA is seeking, will be used
to operate in direct competition with parallel Metra services; rather than attempting
to coordinate the
services to utilize what funds may be available the most profitably.
Particularly on the Southeast
Side of Chicago, where the CTA Red and Green 'L' Lines, and many CTA bus routes
(especially the South Lake Shore Drive express routes 2, 6, 10,14, 26, and X28),
operate in direct
competition for passengers and operating funds with Metra Electric's parallel and adjacent South Chicago and Kensington in-city suburban train routes; sort of like pumping air into a tire with a slow leak.
There is a highly recommended Major Capital Project included in the Chicago Area Transportation Studies Shared Path 2030 Program for the future of the NE Illinois Region (CATS RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9003 - "CTA Gray Line 'L' Route).
In 2003 it was ranked the
Most Eligible Project for Funding of all those submitted to CATS Shared Path
2030 by CTAQC (the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission - a
program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology).
The proposal would integrate and coordinate the parallel SE Side CTA and Metra services at a very low capital implementation cost of $100 million.
It would greatly reduce
CTA's SE Side operating budget, reduce air pollution and traffic congestion,
and greatly increase ridership; mainly by allowing buses to be used as feeders
to the electric rail line,
rather than wasting fuel and manpower, and creating pollution running many buses to operate competing long-haul services.
Metra would make money
selling the service to CTA, just as they purchase operation of their commuter
train services from the BNSF and UP Railroads; a win-win-win situation for all.
It would also provide a new 37 station 22-mile Regional CTA 'L' Route serving all the SE Lakefront Corridor with it's many attractions, detailed information about the proposal is available at:
There are many other proposals
submitted by citizens, groups, and community organizations to CATS 2030 RTP
that should be looked at (rather than just those provided by the transit operators
as a way of reducing capital and operating costs, and making the best use what funds are available.
Maybe the people in Springfield feel that CTA, RTA, and Metra aren't exploring all the options (for using the very scarce funds that they are seeking - the most efficiently) so why listen to them ask for more.
The Task Force has worked with Mike Payne on his proposal and put him in touch with expert advisers. He has worked on his proposal for many years and this summer succeeded in having it placed on CAT's 2030 Shared Path list (with about 300 others that can be looked at) of projects to be reviewed for the next Regional Transportation Plan. John Hilkevitch in his November 11 Tribune column said:"The beauty of the concept lies in its simplicity, harnessing infrastructure that is already in place." It would nearly entirely use existing tracks and equipment that lies idle during the day [although Metra says it needs the time for maintenance]. Also, it offers enhanced, dependable mid day service frequent enough to entice riders who would have fare linkup with CTA [and gets ready for USX redevelopment while freeing up the outer tacks for service to Peotone]. And (Hilkevitch says) it offers the chance to rationalize bus cross routes as feeders and take advantage of CTA's interest and legally-created bias (its part of the transit pie) to serve the city. [Metra is basically mandated to serve the suburbs.]
The Electric District is a hybrid left over from the old Illinois Central urban railroad/suburban commuter railroad. and has very different equipment than the other, diesel commuter rail lines. Metra's other lines have very few city stops and inefficient interconnects with other lines, whether Metra or CTA. Payne's proposal deals only with the city sections of Metra Electric--to South Shore, Blue Island, and 115 Kensington using the inner tracks. The more of these used, the more the infrastructure changes and costs involved. Task Force members think the best case can be made for the South Chicago branch, although including the others might enhance support needed to get the city and CTA to push this plan. We also emphasize that this would be some form of lease arrangement, not a buyout. CTA leases lines all the time.]
CATS expects drafted and their board passed a Regional Transportation Plan in 2003. CATS and Regional Transportation Authority spokespersons commended Payne for his efforts to improve coordination, which the service boards, particularly Metra, have resisted. "Our key position is that we want to have better coordination." [This difference of opinion was brought out earlier in the year at hearings held by State rep. Julie Hamos.] A Metra spokeswoman called Payne's proposal a poor investment. But, Hilkevitch says, "Getting Around wants to know: Since when is Metra worried about prudent investment?" citing the recent double tracking of the North Central line. CTA cited only the institutional hurdles and that it has its own costly plan for a second loop and Blue Line O'Hare and Schaumburg express. Note that two of the city/CTA's most visible "wish list" projects, the Outer Loop Circle Line and the Mid-City Transitway (following the route once planned for the Crosstown Expressway-Cicero and c75th to the Red Line) don't link up to CTA or Metra service in the southeast corridor.
Payne has since presented his proposal at numerous forums and hearings. The plan received a good rating and recommendation in the Regional Transportation Plan, and was shown to be the most cost-effective plan, with least negative environmental costs, by Center for Neighborhood Technology's Congestion and Air Quality Task Force. Yet, it seems to go nowhere while Metra offers upgrades mainly to suburban end of the Electric service, to rolling stock (new with toilets), and in the future to the stations in South Shore on the South Chicago Branch.
Visit Payne's site at www.grayline.20m.com. [ http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRT3/GrayLineCoalition/]
from John Hilkevitch's
November 11, 2002 column on the Gray Line
Mike Payne says he ...won't stop pursuing his dream of helping bring better transit services to underserved communities on the Southeast Side. Especially since the government agency responsible for long-term planning in the Chicago region has placed Payne's idea for a new Chicago Transit Authority rail line on its list of potential projects. ...
The beauty of the concept lies in its simplicity, harnessing infrastructure that is already in place. The Gay Line would use Metra tracks and Highliner trains that mostly sit idle during non-rush hour periods and offer CTA-style "L" service with trains operating 10 to 20 minutes apart. In addition, riders would be able to transfer between the Gray Line and CTA buses and trains without paying the separate fares that now work as barriers to a seamless transit network. The pan would also facilitate cost-effective use of existing CTA and Pace routes as feeders to the Gray Line...
Payne has studied population and employment data compiled by the Northeastern illinois Planning Commission and he estimates the 2-mile Gray Line could be supported by up t 70,000 riders each weekday, compared with the fewer than 5,000 daily commuters who ride the Metra Electric..."With the new industry shaping up on the former US. Steel site, the Gray Line would...give workers better access to the city."...
CATS held meetings over the summer seeking fresh ideas....Payne's plan is one of more tha 300 projects on the "Shared Path 2030" list that have been accepted for review. ..."In the next few months we will winnow the list...and come up with a draft recommended plan by March or April," said Eugene Ryan....Payne's plan is hardly a shoo-in, and changes would be required to make it work. But officials of CATS and the Regional Transportation Authority applauded Payne for his attempt to improve coordination of CTA and Metra services--something the two transit agencies have largely resisted....Michael Shiffer, vice president of planning and development of the CTA called the Gray Line proposal interesting and innovative, but said it faces "institutional challenges"...
More. The Gray Line is a project under consideration for the Regional Transportation Plan
The November 11, 2002 Tribune carried an article featuring the Gray Line idea for linking Metra Electric and CTA, presented by Mike Payne at CATS hearings in early November. Mike has a set of sites (beautifully done and with maps, photos and illustrations, including how the line would look on a future RTA travel map) bundled in www.grayline.20m.com. Or http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRTS/GRAYLINECONVERSION/. View his flyer. E-mail Mike at GLRTS@webtv.net. HPKCC leaders helped Mike develop presentation material and start his website and accompanied him to transit hearings and conferences. The HPKCC Conference Reporter has featured discussion of the Gray Line proposal and other proposals for service and fare link ups for travel seamlessness and to enhance rapid transit for the Southeast Corridor. Payne's proposal was described in John Hilkevich's November 11 "Getting Around" article in the Metro section of the Chicago Tribune. For summary with comments, see below. Also, Visit "Gray Line" from left bar.
In April, 2003, Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission evaluated the many CATS Regional Transportation Plan preliminary-cut set of recommendations and rated the Gray Line proposal highest in mitigation of congestion and air quality problems, 78 percent.
The June, 2003 CATS publication on the 2030 regional plan draft notes public call for "improving Metra Electric ("Gray Line"). The official draft puts Metra Service upgrade in the privileged second (quick turnaround) category.
A local letter hails Gray Line. November 4, 2003, Hyde Park Herald. by Kevin Shalla
Contact local officials for Gray Line proposal
I recently found out about the proposed gray line conversion of Metra to CTA. This looks like a particularly valuable change for Hyde Parkers. This involves running CTA train service on the Metra tracks. This could vastly improve transportation for all in Hyde Park. Typically frequent service on the CTDA would replace scheduled but infrequent service on the Metra, load on the Jackson Park Express would diminish, and the ability to use one farecard with transfers would make service economical.
I urge interested readers to go to http://community-2.webtv.net/GLRTS/GRAYLINECONVERSION/ and also contact their alderman to express their interest.
While just about
every politician in the State of Illinois is fighting out who ( City / Suburbs
/ Republicans / Democrats ) will gain the most clout and power over state transportation
projects and money, they all seem to be completely ignoring the voice of the
people (their constituents).
Many of the projects and proposals highly recommended by CATS and NIPC in their present incarnations (as well as many community organizations speaking for the people), are completely ignored by the RTA, CTA, Metra, Pace, and IDOT; so how could anyone possibly expect some new "merged" agency to do any better job in meeting the actual wants of the populace, rather than delivering the pork for the politicians. One great example is the Center for Neighborhood Technology's proposal to add new stations to the Green Line (CATS 2030 RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9014 - which was created in response to a year-long series of "Connecting Communities" meetings in 2002 to hear and define the wants
and needs of Chicago area residents); however this proposal is placed way below the central area "Circle Line" on CTA's priority list, yet NO members of the public asked for a "Circle Line" before it was announced.
The City of Chicago
also managed to find $200 million itself to build ONE apparently very posh CTA
"L" station under Block 37.
Metra is pushing it's $1.2 Billion 55 mile STAR Line to stimulate great economic development in many of the suburban areas it serves (some of which have some of the highest per-capita incomes in the region), however it all but ignores it's in-city Chicago South Side services.
And like CNT's Additional Green Line Station proposal (specifically asked for by the public), the CTA Gray Line proposal (CATS 2030 RTP Proposal ID # 01-02-9003 - to create a new regional 22 mile 37 station CTA "L" Line utilizing the in-city Metra Electric District's suburban train routes) - is being completely ignored in the bloody power-and-funding-seeking feeding-frenzy (although it was the project MOST asked for by the public).
The $100 Million cost of implementing the Gray Line, is but a fraction of $1.2 billion cost of Metra's STAR Line (which would cost $1.3 billion instead of $1.2 billion with the Gray Line added on - not that big a change); and yet no one seems to be interested in seeking funding for it (and the tremendous economic development it would bring to the many diverse parts of Chicago's SE side - wealthy, middle class, and disadvantaged).
On Wednesday April 28th and Thursday April 29th, from 11am to 2pm, Versionfest>04 is hosting their Nfo Xpo Festival at Chicago's Cultural Center on Randolph & Michigan (info: http://www.versionfest.org ). It will include presenters on many diverse topics in a science-fair type format.
The Gray Line
proposal has been invited to present a display, and to distribute promotional
With the location and time of day, I am sure the Festival will attract many visitors (especially at lunch time), and many will get to learn about the Gray Line proposal. I hope to gain a lot of public support (I am attempting to start a CTA
Gray Line Coalition) and media publicity for the project.
Please come and visit the Festival if you have the opportunity, I would enjoy meeting you.
Thanks for your time,
GRAY LINE RAPID