The transit agencies are cutting projects in light of a growing capital shortfall- and guess who gets hurt the worst by Metra? Metra is canceling the new Electric Line 143-car fleet that included toilets for the only line lacking them, a lack that was cited by our elected officials as evidence of neglect of the southeast corridor and inner city and African American residents. Now we are stuck with an aging fleet. Also cut is a new fleet maintenance facility near University Park.
CTA has cut planned purchase of buses, railcar overhauls and train signal improvements. Its drivers have not had a contract in years and threaten to strike over scheduling in April, and there is a looming crisis over underfunded pensions. CTA continues to seek a legislative adjustment of funding formulas and overall increased funding. Note also the change in West Side routes of buses and rapid transit.
Congress did increase aid for Illinois Mass Transit by 28% (vs national average 45%) but the lack of significant increase for Illinois combined with the end of IllinoisFIRST funds ($260m a year) meant a drop in RTA capital allotment in 2005 alone from $900m to under $500m. If RTA can't scrape together another $125m match to garner a federal $500m, the capital allotment will fall under $100m in 2006.
So the agencies are going to Springfield again. But Rep. Hamos, one of the biggest voices in transportation, says there is no legislative consensus and any new funds must be part of a package of reforms in funding and spending. As quoted in Crains, "There's legislative interest that there be no federal dollars left on the table. What the federal bill has done is provide us with an incentive to sit at he table to come up with a solution."
Mike Payne's Gray Line proposal/Task Force "SECRET" principles received "quick turnaround" endorsement in the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan, in goals terms that match what HPKCC's SECRET has been asking for. Visit in Gray Line. News and Needs. See also Regional, Regional Transportation Plan. Meanwhile, Metra has indicated it has no interest in service increase, conversion to universal card, and has both cancelled car orders and raised fares. But it is improving viaducts and embankments in Hyde Park (adding to city funds) and is rebuilding stations in South Shore. Alderman Hairston is asking for viaduct repairs in Woodlawn while Ald. Preckwinkle seeks opening of the 39th station.
There is a new website for transit oriented development issues and stories.
It's a project of CNT, Smart Growth America, Local Initiatives Corporation (LISC), and Resources City America (?). To find out more and hook up to a May 3 webcast, visit http://www.lisc.org/content/calendar/detail/1294.
Issues and goals as identified by the HPKCC Hyde Park Transit Task Force and others
Parking, pedestrian and bike friendliness
-# 6 Jackson Park Express Bus Dwntn to 79th/So Sh
Service that is sometimes still spread too thin or bunched but has gained enormously from reconfiguration and addition of more routes, esp. rush hour X28.
-continue to monitor for improved late night service on the #55 bus and seek better shelters at the Ryan.
-continue to look for service refinements, maybe more day hours for the #2 and #X28 which have growing ridership. Seek coordination with U of C between University and neighborhood needs in new and existing routes, alternatives they are planning to the single-auto.
-ensuring buses fully use technological means and management to properly time arrivals and service level.
-Settle the drivers issues.
-A fair resolution to take advantage of legislative changes and subsidy for paratransit for the handicapped-- this has fallen between the cracks.
-Seek permanent revenue flow improvement for CTA including capital to allow an end to annual crises, fare hikes and service cuts; improved accountability while recognizing CTA gives a good bang for the buck.
-Bus shelters- there are still a few corners with significant numbers catching the bus that do not have shelters, or are poorly placed. Shelters near schools and parks should be monitored for child-inappropriate ads.
-A few bus drivers still seem still not to take command of unruly situations.
-Metra service improvement and long term hope for a closer and more useful linkup of Metra Electric into CTA and other area transit: South East Chicago Rail Enhancement Team (SECRET or' Gray Line Lite'). (10 minute headway 7 am-10+ pm, 30 cent CTA transfer/universal card) Being coordinated with other organizations and communities in the southeast corridor.
See also Gray Line alternative.
59th St. station upgrade.
- Metra stations trivialization and upkeep and viaducts rehab and upkeep (hopefully with keeping some of the murals), full fleet of new cars with toilets, completion of embankment re habitation.
-Support I-GO Carshare and its coordination with transit. Encourage development to be transit-linked and support other pro-sustainable solutions.
53rd St parking proposals
See TIF News & Zoning (reform proposals also look at transit-oriented/transit node development; 53rd has been designated a Transit Node (others should be considered) in the new Zoning code and 53rd Lake Park-Kenwood a special Pedestrian Oriented Commercial Zone.) Key was thought to be getting a new garage (preferably with retail below contributing to transit-oriented development). This depends on a new study and on new construction showing use-demand and a TIF-income stream to support bonds and was in turn tied to an addition to Canter Middle School. This seems stalled or derailed and so other means of maximizing parking in the main commercial area will and should be being considered. Some doing a lot of work/thinking about parking now downplay need for a garage. New ideas coming into play that interest the Task Force include a Parking Improvement District and Pay and Display machines. Meanwhile, the UC is adding parking on it south end but starting a shift to alternatives to driving and parking.
Walkability, bikeability...and compatibility between the two! is of importance to the community. The matter is complex, from keeping bikes off sidewalks to optimizing safe intersections and (reduced) curb cuts to getting potholes and sidewalks fixed. Reconfiguration and fix-up of Lake Park Avenue and the Metra viaducts in the community are also important.
-speedy funding and achievement of Lakefront access from 57th beach north at regular intervals over Lake Shore Drive.
I-GO (car-sharing) available in Hyde Park. Visit the I-GO page for the full story, latest.
In September 2006, I-GO celebrated expansion of its Hyde Park fleet in a system expanding city wide, partly as an antidote to high gas prices.
A unique, new car-sharing service that lets you drive when and where you want, just like owning a car. You have 24 hour a cess to I-GO cars located in the area. After signing up with the required vouchers and paying the $75 initial registration fee, reserve a car for 1 hour or more, and pay $6.00/hour plus $.50/mile. I-GO pays insurance, maintenance, etc. To apply online, visit www.i-go-cars.org. To receive an application or information by mail, call (773) 278-4IGO x227. I-GO is now located in the following communities: Andersonville, Edgewater, Hyde Park, Logan Square, and Wicker Park, Uptown, River North, E. Lakeview, and the Loop with more likely to come--1000 members and 25 cars by early 2005--both goals now reached. Hybrids are also now included in select sites.
Center for Neighborhood Technology launched the program then reached out to the local transportation planning agency CATS. It is now going private. The operation is run by a firm very successful in Washington, D.C. CTA has recognized the value--program users are far more likely to use public transportation and bus/train use goes up when the I-Go cars are stored nearby--so CTA is setting up new I-GO park-and-get spots in lots by its stations and routes, most notably along the Red Line from the South Loop to Edgewater. Also, a federal CMAQ anti-congestion/anti-pollution grant and a grant from LaSalle will allow fleet doubling and enable the program to be operationally self-sustaining by a couple of years. The $410,000 spring 2004 grant will enable doubling the Honda sedan fleet and location in more neighborhoods. CDOT is highly enthusiastic, according to its spokesman Brian Steele.
There are now over 27 vehicles and 15 sites. Cars in Hyde Park are located in the 53rd St. Lake Park city parking lot in the University of Chicago parking lot at 55th and Greenwood. Additional cars will be added in Hyde Park as needed according to CEO Sharon Feigon, who noted that Hyde Park was one of the early participating communities. I-GO was early touted by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, our Aldermen, and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.
Walkable community, pedestrian-friendly 53rd Street, transit-oriented development, Lake Park Corridor and viaduct project.
Visit Walkable Communities for more.
The HPKCC Transit Task Force wants to see that some of the most attractive advantages of this community are maintained and enhanced. The ability of people to walk or bike to work, the store, events- or to move about recreationally- are increasingly pressed upon by both traffic congestion and its opposite: fast moving traffic on Lake Park, 55th, and other "auto oriented" arterials. The parking crunch and dilemma (add more and more traffic comes) add to the problem. Some of our intersections including along Lake Park are not well designed the handle this multiple challenge. Recently, studies and recommendations have been made for Lake Park. No funding is yet available, but there is funding to start rehabilitation of the dreadful (and in significant ways unsafe) Metra viaducts. Also to rehabilitate the Metra embankments and retaining walls.
Some streetscape improvements have been made on parts of 53rd and 55th Streets. It is proposed in the Zoning Reform Ordinance to concentrate on keeping 53rd Street pedestrian friendly and taking advantage of enhancements for transit-oriented development. (New bus routes including on Lake Park at the commercial center and advocated-upgrades to Metra service may help- Hyde Park is at an ideal distance from downtown and termini along major road and rail corridors. But the many new bus routes in the neighborhood ply frequently narrow and at times of day congested streets. And why does the pedestrian-friendly zone for 53rd not extend west of Kenwood?)
A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force/ Transportation and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org. (email) Help support our work: Join the Conference! Join and work with the Task Force- contact chairman James Withrow.