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Transportation: Regional context and beyond

Metra trip planner:
RTA trip planner:
CMAP has a new interactive site visualizing the gridlock points, needs, and GOTO2040 in various trans. modes-

South Lakefront Corridor Transportation Study held the first of several opportunities for public input and information April 13 2011. See our report in pdf. Their site Email, Brenda McGruder, CDOT, 30 N. LaSalle St., Ste. 500, Chicago, IL 60602, 773 312-744-6139, fax 312-742-2422. For more information please visit the SSCTS website and follow us on Facebook Comments/RSVP to

Hearings proceed on the Chicago-Detroit rapid rail. The CREATE Englewood Flyover separation peendd in fall 2014, and it seems the railroad yard expansion in that area has been improved.
Metra is proposing ten years of fare hikes to fund capital upgrade-- but media contends little will actually go to that.
CTA says it will forgo fare hikes and service cuts for 2015 and somewhat increase Blue and Orange Line service. North side residents continue to press for restoration of the #11. Blue and Brown Line work continue and Red Line work is planned. Police will do random searches of bags- media is skeptical. Metra and CTA continue to take hits for safety procedures from the feds.
The role of CMAP and RTA have perhaps been eroded by the fight over the Illiana Tollway.

From RTA April 26, 2013:

Building from recent studies and broad regional input, the RTA’s Strategic Plan Update has most recently been focused on identifying the top continuing and emerging issues that transit faces in the next five years. In this process, a strategic planning exercise identified as many as twenty potential issues to be addressed in the updated Strategic Plan. These issues ranged from things such as the impacts of an aging population to tight operating budgets to the transit customer’s experience.

The RTA conducted a series of workshops to obtain consensus on the top issues to be addressed in the plan. Understanding that the Transit Strategic Plan needs to reflect a broad regional perspective; multiple workshops were held involving community stakeholders, transit operators, roadway agencies, advocacy groups, the RTA’s Regional Citizen Advisory Board and RTA staff. At each workshop, participants discussed the full range of continuing and emerging issues and were then asked to prioritize what they believed were the region’s top issues over the next five years. Collectively five continuing and emerging issues were identified as priorities that should be addressed in the next five years. As the draft Strategic Plan is prepared, recommendations will focus on collectively addressing the following issues:

I. Transit’s Significant Capital Backlog and Insufficient Capital Funding

II. The Need to Improve the Customer Experience through a Modernized & Integrated System

III. The Need to Strike a Balance between Meeting Current Demand & Developing New Markets

IV. Balancing Tight Operating Budgets

V. Anticipating the Reauthorization of the Federal Transportation Bill & the Need to Educate

In the coming weeks, the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace will collectively develop recommendations that seek to address these issues. Recommendations will also build from workshop input and previous studies. The RTA will hold public meetings to gather input on the draft plan before seeking Board adoption of the update later this Summer.

The strategic plan attempts to establish a common vision for transit in our region and set priorities over the next five years. The draft plan identifies the vision of the regional transit system as “A world-class regional public transportation system providing a foundation to the region’s prosperity, livability, and vitality.” A full description of goals and objectives of the system are identified in the plan. As a means to collectively guide the plan implementation, priority issues and related recommendations have been identified. The draft plan can be downloaded by clicking and a summary of the plan at

The RTA values input of how to better the regional transit system. We also would like your input and we have several opportunities for you to provide it.

Survey –
This brief survey seeks your input on recommendations that are being considered as part of the plan. The survey should take less than 10 minutes.
Comment –
An opportunity to provide a formal comment that will be accepted as part of the hearing process.
Public Hearing
The RTA will be hosting eight public hearings throughout the region. At these hearings you will have the opportunity to view the plan and talk one on one with RTA staff. The dates and locations of the hearings.
June 18th
– DuPage County –Wheaton City Hall, City Council Chambers, 4-6pm
– Kane County- Kane County Government Center, Building A 1st Floor Auditorium, 4-6pm
June 19th
– Downtown Chicago – RTA Headquarters, 175 W. Jackson Blvd. Suite 1650, Chicago, 60604, 11am -1pm
– South Cook – Flossmoor Village Hall, Village Board Room, 4-6pm
June 20th
– Lake County – Grayslake Village Hall, Village Board Room, 4-6pm
– North Cook - Arlington Heights Village Hall, Board Room and Community Room, 4-6pm
– McHenry - Crystal Lake City Hall, City Council Chamber, 4-6pm
June 25
– Will County – New Lenox Village Hall, Council Chambers, 4-6pm

Details Meghan McShan, 312 705-6861,

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study final report meeting. Happened. The meeting presented the project evaluation results and the draft recommendations of the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study. The study has focused on improving public transportation and enhancing Transit-Oriented Development in order to enhance mobility for residents and increase access to jobs within the South Lakefront Corridor. It is the third in a series of meetings. We want to hear from you. Please join us for this important public meeting and feel free to invite others.
For more information please visit our website and follow us on Facebook
Mtg. Presentation (long doc in pdf).
SHORT version.
WHAT happened? Final selection was not announced. There were plentious poster boards that had additional info on selected example projects prioritized by one of the advisory groups. The PowerPoint slide shows will be posted online (not up yet July 3).
Of particular interest to HPK was the additional detail / research / estimates regarding:
--possible BRT on 55th Garfield to Midway Airport (seems to be mixed use east of Cottage to Metra) connecting with a BRT on Cottage Grove. They are seeking a 25-35% time reduction on 55th.
-Metra Grayline/Gold Line (to keep the cost estimate down they shifted the mid-day/off peak frequency from 10 min to 15-20 minute headings)

Final report was never issued as far as can be seen- but several bus and rail route improvements and the possibility of a CTA lease of Metra along the south lakefront was included both in the 2014 draft Cook County plan and the 2014 Centers for Neighbrohood Tedhnology study ways to cut down on whast it calls transit deserts.

CTA and PACE are complaining about the skyrocketing costs of paratransit, called unsustainable as seniors multiply inter alia. Some are being trained to use regular transportation.

CTA, Metra, and PACE heads sent a sharp rebuke to the RTA re it's barrage that the service boards work together more and stop duplications, pointing out where they do and where it seems not practical, and pointing fingers at RTA bureaucracy and duplication with other regulating bodies (but the latter seems to be required by laws). A starewide commission on consolidation of service and oversight/planing bords led y GBeoge Ranney in 2013 went nowhere.

Two 2013-154 studies reached similar conclusions and improvements (up to $20 billion in capital neds ) to end transportation deserts and reconnect populations and jobs in the region. Cook County and Centers for Neighborhood Technology.

Cost of Metra-CTA link up pass (paid to Metra) going up, higher proportion goes to CTA.

February 1, the cost of Link-Up connecting to CTA and PACE from Metra and sold by Metra goes up $6, from $39 to $45. The percentage to CTA increases from 70% to 85%. PACE will continue to get 15%. Link-Up serves 2.8 million CTA rides a year (88,310 passes in 2010) or less than 1% and 220,000 annual PACE rides. Still, it's important especially to many South Siders who work in suburbs and will tide over until 2015 rollout of universal cards (which fits into the Gold Line demands for improved Metra utilization). The increase in price and CTA share should raise $500,000 for CTA.

Red Line Extension

Connecting 95th Street Station to 130th Street

From Open house: August 2, 2011

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to extend the Red Line from the 95th Street Station to the vicinity of 130th Street, subject to the availability of funding. The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include three new intermediate stops near 103rd, 111th, and 115th streets, as well as a new terminal station in the vicinity of 130th Street. Each new stop would include bus and parking facilities. This project is one part of the Your Red Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.

Learn about the Red Line Extension

This open house will continue to keep you informed about the proposed
Red Line Extension project.

If you require an interpreter, including sign language services, or other accommodations at this open house, contact Deborah Lopez, Senior Government Relations Officer, at least five days prior to the open house at (312) 681-2709 or

Para informacion en Español, llame al 1- 312-681-2709
Customer Information: 1-888-YOUR-CTA (888-968-7282)

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 Brenda McGruder at CDOT, 312 744-6139.
Here is the link to the post meeting city report

Study's report on Sept. public meeting-

HPKCC report by Gary Ossewaarde
More in CTA page.

Hyde Park Herald report April 20, 2011. South Side transit fixes examined. By Sam Cholke

The public transit agencies want to solve the transportation problems in neighborhoods between 22nd Street and 95th Street east of the Dan Ryan expressway, but first they're tying to figure out how residents ride teh buses, el and trains and what solutions people would use.

The Chicago departments of Transportation and Housing and Economic Development have hired five consulting firms to compile studies from Metra, the Chicago Transit Authority an other agencies to get a holistic view of the Southeast Side. The first results were presented April 13 a the Illinois Institute of Technology and showed that, though transit options largely serve the area well, it is not clustered around people or jobs.

In the 12 neighborhoods being studied, most people live in South Shore -- one in five Southeast Side residents -- and more than half of the jobs are in Hyde Park, with a significantly smaller job hub in Douglas [IIT].

Many residents still have to travel out of the area for work and because fewer households own a car than the city average, more trips are by public transit, usually a bus downtown. The No. 6 Jackson Park Express bus, with 11,200 riders yearly, serves nearly as many passengers as the Green Line. The Jeffery.. Express [#14] from South Shore serves more than both. For these riders, the system works relatively well -- there are a lot of good options to get downtown. But as the Illinois Medical District and Midway Airport continue to hire from the area, the local transit options continue to be bad at connecting to the Southwest and West Sides.

The transit system was found to be worst on South Cottage Grove Avenue between 35th Street and Garfield Boulevard, especially at Pershing Road, a commercial strip where officials have aggressively pursued developing retail. [The study also cited congestion on Cottage at 58th St.] To shop, most residents don't use the public transit system, unless an errand requires going downtown, the study found.

During the open call for solutions, the audience repeatedly suggested the Gold Line project, an idea for Metra's South Chicago Electric Line first broached by Michael Payne in the 1990s. "It would be functionally the same as an el line. The only difference would be riding one of the new high-liner cars with a Metra decal on the side." Payne said, standing before the audience of about 100. Payne's idea for a CTA fare system and 10-minute wait times for the line gained attention during the run-up to Chicago's Olympic bid and continues to be advocated by many in the area. "It could probably take 20 minutes off my commute time," said Lamar Scruggs, who lives in Hyde Park and commutes downtown to DePaul University for school. After the meeting, representatives from transit agencies said that even if the current study recommends the Gold Line, each agency would need to do its own lengthy study of the project, and there are more immediate concerns.

To keep the current transit options running in the area running without any expansion, CTA will need $1.3 billion over the next 10 years. Metra will need $1.8 billion to keep the two southern branches of he Electric District running for the next 10 years. "I would like to see the study concentrate on what can be done without focusing on physical facilities, things like policies," suggested Richard Gill, a member of the South East Chicago Commission. The transit agencies are quietly hoping for the same thing as Gill. Agency reps said they were hoping the study would suggest smaller solutions they could implement immediately, like improving the underutilized bus lines connecting Hyde Park and the el lines in Washington Park. ...

Final report was never issued as far as can be seen- but several bus and rail route improvements and the possibility of a CTA lease of Metra along the south lakefront was included both in the 2014 draft Cook County plan and the 2014 Centers for Neighbrohood Tedhnology study ways to cut down on whast it calls transit deserts.

GoTo2040 Plan. See the plan at

GO TO 2040 will guide growth in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties for the rest of this century. In addition to land use and transportation, GO TO 2040 also addresses the full range of quality-of-life issues, including the natural environment, economic development, housing, and human services such as education, health care, and other social services.

Will there be an effect from 1) the early 2010 resolution introduced in the State Senate for Metra trains stopping at all stations and creating some competition and service increase by allowing the South Shore to pick up any passengers at their Illinois stops and 2) a lawsuit in early 2010 alleging funding and service bias against minority communities throughout the region, including by an alleged unfair share going to Metra.

Metra fares go up, CTA and Pace service got cut in Feb. RTA is borrowing to cover service costs in light of state non-payment: what happens when RTA can't borrow any more?

March 2010 Congress passed the HIRE bill that funds the Surface Transportation Fund through 2010 and makes it solvent through 2011. So the remaining 58% of allocations can now go forward. The general transportation reauthorization bill has not yet passed.

To call for Projects that enhance....

Gold Line:

HPKCC supports RTA South Lakefront Corridor Study

Sent October 20, 2009 to RTA Funding Programs Public Comment

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Communtiy Conference wishes to communicate its support for RTA's proposed stdy of the South Lakefront Corridor:

Whereas public transportation is vital to the residents, businesses and non-profit institutions located in Southeast Chicago, and
Whereas it is important to take advantage of all the existing transit resources in Southeast Chicago, and
Whereas Southeast Chicago enjoys an unusal, for Chicago, combination of Metra and CTA transit operations, AND
Whereas the Regional Transit Authority is best-placed to encourage collaboration among the transit agencies to improve the speed and reliability of public transportation in our region,
the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conferecne hereby resolves that the RTA should be encouraged to commit to the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study.

Jay N. Ammerman, President

Note, it looks like the $300,000 for feasibility study will be appropriated and Danny Davis has put the proposal on the "eligible projects" list. RTA has included it in 19 study projects it has recommended and put out for comment:

The following was out for comment until October. So. Lakefront Corridor, a transit oriented dev. study along 63rd Green Line B, and a new call-in system for PACE paratransit. See whole list and hearings at which to comment: send comments- Phone-in 312 913-3143. Gary Ossewaarde

The Subregional Planning program provides funding for regional planning projects including corridor studies, countywide transit improvements, and other regional transit initiatives. The program is available to units of local government and the RTA Service Boards: The Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.

City of Chicago

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study: This project will study a range of transit service options in the South Lakefront Corridor, an area that extends from the Stevenson Expressway on the north to 95th Street on the south and from the Dan Ryan Expressway and Cottage Grove on the west to Lake Michigan on the east. The City will undertake this work as a first step in identifying alternatives that would improve public transportation services for better access to jobs and other activities, and would lead to enhanced economic vitality and quality of life for the communities served. The overall goal of the study is to recommend one or two candidate projects with the high net benefits for a more rigorous evaluation that would take place within the federal New Starts process.

South Shore schedules are being changed drastically to deal with increased ridership and time-use pattern changes, as well as problems from single-tracking, esp. to Michigan City.

August 2009 CTA formally endorsed extension of the Orange Line from Midway Airport to Ford city Mall, the Red Line from 95th to 130th, and the Yellow Line from Dempster to Old Orchard. Improvements would be felt by many, ridership would increase weekdays on each by 7,200 for Orange, 41,000 for Red, and 5,800 for Yellow. Costs are betwwn 290m and $1.2b.

April 2, 2009. A down payment on a state capital plan for transportation uses state funds to leverage federal stimulus funds- total $3 billion. How much is for transit is unclear. Gov. Quinn has signed it. The first-mentioned capital package includes a mix of state funds and federal stimulus dollars received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to provide for a new multi-year capital program for roads, bridges and mass transit. The $3 billion state portion of the capital program is made possible by bonding $200 million in Road Fund dollars and another $100 million from the General Revenue Fund.

July 2009. It is unclear how much of the 5-year 31 billion state capital budget passed in July 2009 will go the CTA and the other agencies- much will go to start up high speed rail. $18 billion is for transportation, leveraging about $4 billion in federal funds and are partially covered by transportation user fees. The ratio for transit is improved to 1 in 4 dollars. The downside according to Metropolitan Planning Council, is that money allocated by the new capital plan is not coupled with spending reforms to evaluate the merits of projects against state goals. HB2359 - now HB4590 - outlines a process by which transportation projects should be selected and evaluated. The bill should have been passed in tandem with the Illinois Jobs Now program. Because it was never called for a House vote, lawmakers did not have the opportunity to approve these critical reforms that would change the way we spend limited capital dollars. Another question is how much is "shovel-ready." Included is $230 m for rail bottleneck clearup projects.

Moving Beyond Congestion says, Northeastern Illinois' transit agencies will receive $2.7 billion in funding through a combination of investments approved in early April and the just-signed capital plan. The regional transit system needs to replace outdated vehicles and equipment, deteriorating rail ties and tracks and aging stations, resulting in slow zones and less reliable service.
The service boards have already announced plans for the state capital and federal stimulus funds they have received this year. Investments will include rehabilitating and purchasing new train cars and locomotives, new buses and paratransit vehicles, remodeling and expanding stations, parking lots and other facilities. Additional infrastructure such as communications, signals and electronic systems will also be upgraded. Riders should see improvements in service in the near term and throughout the five-year program. We will follow up to send details about the funded projects.

The state capital funds will help address critical maintenance needs and move the system toward a state of good repair, but additional capital dollars will be needed to expand the system and add new services to meet growing demand for public transit. Also at the federal level, the RTA is working with the service boards and the Illinois Congressional delegation to dedicate funding for northeastern Illinois transit in the surface transportation bill that is being developed in Congress.

For a full summary of the Illinois Jobs Now! plan, visit

Call for projects that enhance...

Dear Partner For Transit, from Moving Beyond Congestion. April 7, 2010.

We are soliciting prospective projects for our Funding Programs Call for Projects which will begin today, April 7, 2010. These programs provide financial support for planning, operating, and capital transit projects.

The Call for Projects will allow potential applicants an opportunity to pitch project ideas that are innovative and will increase transit usage, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the region's current transit system, provide for better mobility for seniors and people with disabilities, or improve job access.

Prospective projects should be located within the six-county RTA service region which consists of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Last year, the RTA allocated more than $11 million in federal, state and local funding to support innovative projects that offered a plethora of transit options to applicants through transit-oriented development and local transit improvement plans, introduction of services and capital improvements.

Visit the RTA Funding Programs webpage at for general background information and to download an application.

All projects funded through the following programs are consistent with the legislative mandates and the RTA's updated strategic plan. The programs range from planning studies and initiatives to transit operating and capital projects.

Community Planning Program
The Community Planning Program is available to municipalities to create plans for local station area/transit-oriented development (TOD), local transit improvement, TOD guidelines, local coordinated paratransit plans and detailed implementation studies. More information regarding the Community Planning Program can be found at

Subregional Planning Program
The Subregional Planning Program is available to counties, townships, councils of Mayors, the City of Chicago, and the CTA, Metra, and Pace. Eligible planning projects include Subregional and market focused plans such as transit service restructuring studies or efforts focused on developing specific market opportunities; countywide or Subregional transit improvement studies, transit-oriented development studies and paratransit studies. More information regarding the Subregional Planning Program can be found at

Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) / New Freedom (NF) Program
The JARC/NF program is available to local governments, transportation agencies, and the CTA, Metra and Pace for operating and capital projects derived from the RTA Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan (HSTP) that enhance mobility for seniors, people with disabilities, and low income populations, address reverse commute markets and/or provide access to jobs. More information regarding the JARC/NF Program can be found at

Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) Program
The ICE Program is a competitive funding program, established as part of the 2008 Mass Transit Reform Legislation. The program provides operating and capital assistance to enhance the coordination and integration of public transportation and to develop and implement innovations to improve the quality and delivery of public transportation. Projects funded through this program advance the vision and goals of the RTA Strategic Plan by providing reliable and convenient transit services and enhancing efficiencies through effective management, innovation and technology. More information regarding the ICE Program can be found at

What's in the progressing 5-year federal transportation renewal? As of July 2009

450 billion (at least it's more). Reforms in planning (not yet followed through in Illinois) including standards like sustainability, emissions reductions, tie in of transit-efficient housing and land use. Still just 80-20 ratio for highways to transit (but allows some use for operations and did not add more to the nearly broke highway trust fund), and no identified funding! which may lead to an 18-month extension of the current provision. The federal plan to date has $4 b (vs president's rec'd $1 b) for high speed rail, on top of the $8b in the stimulus (over $70 b in requests were received. The bill also gives much more money to the questioned local-route airline subsidy. Amtrack gets a $1.5 subsidy, much for makeup repair after crashes.


RTA (Moving Beyond Congestion) says:

This week, the Illinois General Assembly approved and Governor Quinn signed an initial capital investment plan. The Governor and General Assembly should be commended for taking this important first step to address the state's significant capital investment needs. The $900 million in transit funding that was approved will help address critical maintenance needs and keep the system working across northeastern Illinois. But our work is not done.

The RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace have identified $10 billion in state capital funding needs over the next five years in order to maintain, enhance and expand our system. To achieve these improvements, a sustained, long-term investment program will be required.

President Obama has endorsed rapid and improved trains.

Governor Quinn and the legislature plan to return to Springfield after the spring recess (April 6 through April 17) and begin work on a comprehensive capital plan to improve the state's road and transit systems. A group from the UC and other southside organizations is going to Sprinfield to lobby April 22 2009.

Over the coming weeks we will continue to keep you informed on how you can help contact your legislators and take action to help promote the need for capital investment.

Transit is essential to our regional economy, environment and quality of life. We look forward to working with our Partners for Transit and lawmakers to develop a capital plan that will modernize the system.

Thanks again for your support!

Regional Transportation Authority website
Headquarters and customer service 165 N. Jefferson 60661, 312 913-3110 incl. persons with disabilities. Paratransit help line: 312 663-4357. Outreach manager Gilbert Feliciano: Gil at (312) 913-3237 or e-mail him at

Regional Planning Board website. More about. New name and website: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP):

NAPTA and others have launched a campaign for renewal of the SAFETEA federal transportation reauthorization due at the end of September, 2009. For more information visit

Metra Board meets 3rd Fridays 9 am at 547 W. Jackson, 15th floor.
Transit operations are under the Regional Transportation Authority (regulates and allocates for the three service boards--CTA, Metra, Pace). These are in turn overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Authority and Federal Transit Agency. Many other government bodies and independent organizations also engage in transportation planning and oversight.

RTA meetings:

Meetings are open to the general public and are ADA accessible. Any attendee requiring a reasonable accommodation in order to attend a meeting or have questions, please call 312-913-3153 (TTY – 312-913-3111) at least two business days before the meeting. For more information, visit

RTA Open House on projects May 4 including on improved access.

The latest revival of the Gray Line Lite concept (now Gold Line) is in Olympics context, by the 5th Ward Olympics Task Force and by a wider Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation, becoming part of a newly launched umbrella Communities for Equitable Olympics. The plan includes 10 minute service, Visit Chamber, HPKCC sign on. Kudos to James Withrow and Linda Thisted. (Description of similar concepts started by Mike Payne are in our Gray Line page.)

The Gold Line all transportation commitment was dropped from the reported-out Benefits Agreement.

Gold Line: SOUL, Communities for Equitable Olympics, legislators and aldermen along the line have joined forces to 1) seek a full costing out study 2) include the project in an Olympics Benefit Agreement. Main components are frequent service (will cost more rail cars), inter transfer, and a new station in Bronzeville at 35th.

Additionally, , SOUL, with HPKCC and CECD reps, met with staff from the offices of Ald. Hairston (who hosted the meeting), Sen. Durbin, Rep. Jackson, Majority Leader Currie, state Senator Raoul, Ald. Preckwinkle and the Chicago Dep't of Transportation. Like most of our meetings with politicians on this effort, this meeting was very positive and we got commitments to go forward from all involved. Holdup now is Metra. There was recently a meeting with the RTA and Metra.

The Gold Line idea has taken off with local aldermen and state legislators signing on, as well as organizations such as HPKCC and Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, UC officers- The latest revival of the concept "Gray Line Lite," to be renamed) is in Olympics context, by the 5th Ward Olympics Task Force and by a wider Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation, becoming part of a newly launched Coalition for Equitable Olympics. Visit SOUL, HPKCC, HP Chamber of Commerce and other groups have signed up. Officials near the Metra including Ald. Hairston and Preckwinkle, Rep. Currie, Sen. Raoul, UC, CMAP have shown enthusiasm or signed up and helped. At a meeting with Doug Arnot and others of Chicago 2016, strong support and sense of consistency with Olympic goals were expressed. It can't go into the bid book because it's not funded, but after the bid is awarded, planning could go forward, including gaining federal funds for the purchase of cars and other upgrades and the agency arrangements and card interchange needed. The regional planning agency CMAP has been very supportive, considering this as bringing much more ridership at lower cost ($160 m) than other expansion plans. The plan includes 10 minute service, fare transfer convertibility, track and signal upgrade, new cars, and a new station between 47th and 27th.

Bottom lining. Only $9 billion of needed $20 billion for new initiatives in the Regional Transportation Plan from now to 2030 is identified. $47 billion is for maintaining and upgrading existing facilities and $5 billion for varied arterial, bus, bike/ped and freight initiatives. Total of the plan is $61 billion. Some transit advocacy groups including CNT are faulting the mix as leaning too much to highways and leaving little for transit or freight. Top

A new threat to transit sustainability and growth? Canadian National's (includes IC) plan to divert freight away from Chicago. Now we know why they opted out of planning to fix the gridlock.

IT'S 'NO DOOMSDAY' FOR CTA/RTA/Metra AND SENIORS WILL RIDE FOR FREE AS SOON AS APRIL AS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES THE GOV.-AMENDED TRANSIT FUNDING BILL ON JANUARY 17.The law includes 530 million in property and sales tax increases. Details of the law's provisions on oversight and fiscal accountability were unavailable. There will nonetheless be a 10% Metra increase in February 2008. Transit home.

What CMAP (the successor planning agency + RTA Moving Beyond Congestion) says it is doing- March 2008- holding regional meetings on what region and communities can be in 2040.

It intends to improve coordination, planning, financial oversight, updated plans, system-wide goals and objectives, identifying paths to funding, performance measures. Visit these two sites: and

Meanwhile the secretaries of Transp and Housing have set up a new coordinating council:

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan recently announced a “high-level interagency task force” to encourage more sustainable communities across the U.S.

According to a media release, their joint effort will “better coordinate federal transportation and housing investments and identify strategies to give American families more choices for affordable housing near employment opportunities; more transportation options, to lower transportation costs, shorten travel times, and improve the environment; the ability to combine several errands into one trip through better coordination of transportation and land uses; and safe, livable, healthy communities.”

MPC comments on these priorities:
Every major metropolitan area in the country will pursue integrated housing, transportation, and land use planning and investment over the next four years. HUD and DOT, through HUD’s proposed Sustainable Communities Initiative, will offer planning grants to metropolitan areas and provide financial incentives to encourage municipalities to invest consistently with metropolitan growth priorities.

HUD will coordinate its mandated five-year Consolidated Plans (prepared by cities and counties receiving Community Development Block Grants) that estimate housing needs with DOT’s required four-year Transportation Improvement Programs and longer-range state and regional transportation plans – by aligning planning timetables, processes and geographic boundaries – to make smarter use of federal dollars. HUD and DOT also will work together to encourage location efficiency in housing and transportation investments to reduce traffic congestion, increase transportation mobility, improve air quality, and create jobs in the green economy.

The HUD-DOT task force will redefine affordability, which is used to qualify for multiple government grant programs, to reflect the interdependent household costs of housing and transportation, and develop incentives to encourage communities to implement and promote “livability” measures.

Announcements, public comment periods, meetings

The Illinois State Auditor's report (q.v. at confirms that all the transit service agencies are in dire financial need. Regardless of efficiencies and accountability and leadership/vision he says they must assume, even doubling fares or drastic cutbacks won't--the revenue stream has to be permanent sly increased and be able to keep up with need and inflation.
Comment to RTA at

The Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) is seeking local partners including organizations to engage in assessing and planning for transit that is more efficient and gets people out of their cars. Community workshops are a part of the mix. Moving Beyond Congestion. Maybe a chance to look again at Metra Electric issues. The price tag is $10 billion for basics.

And just as the RTA and service boards put out their call for the state to fund infrastructure work and overhaul financing, Illinois Auditor General William Holland's report called in February 2007 for a top-down audit and overhaul of the RTA. The Performance audit agrees that funding is insufficient leading to progressive breakdown, but not only points to underfunded pensions, transit salaries and benefits among the highest in the nation, rampant absenteeism, lack of strong centralized planning and plain leadership, it cites weak leadership, competition instead of cooperation between transit agencies, wasteful duplication and skewed priorities. It said, stop fighting over customers and last federal dollar and expansion and concentrate on putting a coordinated system in place.--"good repair." Contracts, procurement and space utilization are other problems. Rep. Julie Hamos has promised hearings.

March 22 the House Mass Transit committee held a hearing on House Bill 520 for mass transit funding.

In addition to a $10 billion for capital, an added $400 million a year is needed to operate bus, rail, elevated lines over the next 5 years. Unfortunately, many legislators have other priorities including schools (seeing an added $3 billion a year), healthcare, and other needs or wants. And many want no tax increases.

Desired is 3 b for track, structure, signal and electrical work including to eliminate the slow zones on CTA. $2 billion for paratransit, $2 b for new trains, buses, vehicles , $1 b for parking and passenger facility improvements, , and another $2 b for additional support facilities and equipment. These are all geared to what is most likely to garner federal matches. CTA's Carole Brown already told the Tribune CTA really needs $5.8 in capital. James Reilly, RTA boss, said this is a fair balance "reality test."

Rep. Julie Hamos, echoing Brown, said there first needs to be a really close look at the agencies performance and financial record. She promised hearings over the next few months. Chicago Metropolis 2020 also called for major oversight reform.

Funding options set forth included increases in or extension to more coverage of sales tax (already eyed for schools), motor fuel tax, property tax (dedicated and related fees), income tax, vehicle taxes, toll-congestion pricing, airport, business, sin, and another increase in paratransit fees.

Center for Neighborhood Technology has weighed in with a new coalition for thinking outside the box, with list serve. TransitFuture. Sign up via


Report on the January Moving Beyond Congestion partnership meeting with U of C.

See in preceding box for what followed.

RTA spokespersons said transit saves $1.8 billion annually in the region in pollution costs and that $4.5 is lost annual to congestion costs. Transit saves 150 m gallons of gasoline, provides $12 billion in economic impacts, reduces air pollution by 2,500 tons (3 billion auto emissions miles), saves $1.8 b in avoided congestion, provides many non-monetary benefits. Traffic congestion in NE Illinois is among the worst in the nation and the travel-time-ratio is 2nd worst in the nation. Eliminating such costs would bring income to grow communities instead of dragging the region down competitively. 2007 is called the Year of Decision- the great divided. Do we change the funding, priorities, and organization of transit and enable the system to maintain itself and grow--if not we are sliding into steady breakdown, shrinkage and eventual collapse. Status quo funding means service reductions. The legislature is the crux. The program is intended to "Maintain, Enhance, Expand" but not to push sprawl.

$27 billion is needed for the network- a billion a year to keep the system steady state "just adequate." $34 b over 30 years is needed to maintain and rehabilitate, and an added $5 billion to advance including improving speed, frequency, real time information, and stations. Much of the funding is available from Congress d919.4 of total package), but there is no state and federal matching ($37.5 shortfall). Instead, we are diverting capital funds to pay increases operating expenses.

The vision is for a world-class public transportation system that is convenient, affordable, reliable and safe and is the keystone of the region's growing business opportunities, thriving job market, clean air and livable communities.

Investing to maintain > reliability, shelters, modern security tech, station and vehicle amenities, on board communications, less crowded, cleaner, energy efficiency, alt. fuel vehicles, access, affordable commuting. What's needed: Rolling stock (fixed route buses, vanpool, rail cars, locomotives, rehabs including Metra Electric Highliners, mid-life CTA 3200 series overhaul), track and structure, electrical signals and communications--a lot! Support Facilities an equipment including Metra Electric rail yard; passenger facilities, and support from security cameras to engineering.

Investing to Enhance > Better commuting options (employer incentives, better connectivity, more reverse commute and suburb-to-suburb, new tech.), service enhancement including off-peak and weekend, services that respond to new an local needs and paratransit needs, and seamless transit services including hubs. Needed: Service enhancements- more reliable, more off-peak and weekend, seat availability, para and vanpool; better commuting options including employer incentives, new connections and reverse commute, shuttles, information; seamless services incl. schedule coordination, intermodality, fare integration, hubs.

Investing in important already being planned. Including Metra SouthEast service, Red to 130th, Orange, Yellow, circle land connecting.

It was pointed out that many have no choice but too use transit. The paratransit mandated is very expensive- up to $89 million a year now with the state providing only half of what's needed.

We learned that the CTA is able to use such collaborations as the UC routes to leverage federal dollars and is a good model.

Mike Payne on Gray Line proposal for Metra Electric in-city mainline. He pointed out that if the ME were run like an el line, cf. Red Line that took much of Metra's market, it could have many more boardings--and it has the capacity to do so. (Red actually has 40 times more boardings). With a major increase in boardings and foot traffic, stations could start to act like community centers, help local business, promote development, and could improve street safety. Access to jobs could be significantly improved, and so could qualification for location efficient mortgages. Less pollution and gas price pressure, more access to the lakefront - and Olympics were touted. There would be benefits to the UC, more connectivity between neighborhoods. RTA would gain healthy competition instead of one overburdened component (CTA) and the other underutilized, and would be cheaper than running so-called express busses in competition. . The plan won praise from planner for fiscal cost effectiveness (using mostly existing infrastructure and promoting universal fares.)

Concerns were raised about whether existing lines and rolling stock could handle a major increase esp. not degrade over time. suggestions were made for intermediary or stop gap measures to increase use and usefulness of Metra. Most people care that transit be safe, on time, and clean--there was concern that CTA would not keep the Metra standards on this line. People wanted universal farecards and increased frequency, and touted a marketing campaign.

Other ideas raised

Congestion pricing of gas and parking, stop stress on expansion and doing just what gets last federal dollar. Switch to newer technologies such as monorails., 866-771-7781.

Regional Planning

Several advocacy groups and advocates question how well the federally designated regional planning board have done their work and degree of real public input. The new board, this site suggests, has a chance to allay such concerns.

The Regional Planning Board, with Center for Neighborhood Technology and TyLin held 7 meetings throughout the region to gather inputs for the updated version of the regional plan and priorities. Visit www.sp2030 or You can still participate online via a survey through June 30 at

Transportation Planning and oversight for the Chicago Region overall is under the new Regional Planning Board- (successor to CATS and NIPC)-but you can still use the old web addresses, and Common phone 312 454-0400, fax 312 454-04-- (CATS fax also 312 386-8840.) 233 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 800, Sears Tower, Chicago, IL 60606. Executive Board Chairman Gerald Bennett, Exec. Director Randall Blankenhorn. Standing Committees which the public can participate in (except Executive): Public Participation, Transition, Planning, Priorities. There are several committees that meet about monthly to plan and take public comment--these include Transportation Improvement Plan, Arterials, Air Quality/Traffic, Paratransit, and Pedestrian and Alternative.
New Board's mission statement.
It's now the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning or CMAP- and it has a big challenge according to the Metropolitan Planning Council. The state hasn't appropriated anything for 2 years to take advantage of federal funds to reverse gridlock and pollution and build new infrastructure. We understand CMAP is making bold plans. But what's the vision and boldness to fight in Springfield? It has to stop being so opaque.

More about the RPB. The 2030 Regional Transportation Plan and the '04-'09 projects (TIP) plan with air quality conformity are the big things they were recently working on. The draft or summary of the RTP plan: just go to or
E-mail comments (try) to You can call
312 793-3481 or the hotline, 312 793-5041 (including to receive a copy). Mail address: Regional Planning Board, Communications Division, Sears Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60606. Note, the Conference has a paper copy and CD of the Plan. Regional Transportation Plan page has the reasoning and goals of the Plan. Contact Tom Murtha-

View in the Regional Planning Board site information on the 2030 Regional Plan, 2004- Unified Work Program, 2004-9 Transportation Improvement Program, proposed 2005 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, Soles and Spokes, Rideshare, CTA, Pace, Metra. 312 793-3456. Compare with Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission ratings. (A division of Center for Neighborhood Technology.)

RPB mission: "...a streamlined, consolidated regional planning better integrate plans for land use and transportation." Responsibilities: Develop a regional comprehensive plan that integrates land use and transportation every five years; Prepare and adapt a transportation financial plan that identifies current funding and new sources needed to implement regional plans; Identify regional priority and coordinate advocacy on behalf of these priorities; Develop and maintain a process of public participation to insure all interests are part of the regional planning process; Complete the process of fully integrating and consolidating the functions of the [former organizations].


An open appeal from the RPB Public Participation Committee Chair

The RPB needs input and participation from the community at large. We are in the process of selecting a Citizen's Advisory Committee, as called for in our authorizing legislation, which states that the Board "create a standing Citizen's Advisory Committee to provided continuous and balanced public representation in the development of regional plans and policies." The Public Participation Committee...will coordinate our work with the CAC to promote public awareness and engagement in RPB activities.

To solicit potential members of the CAC, I am [providing] a brief application form for anyone who is interested in serving....Beginning April 1, 2006, the///Committee will screen the applications and make recommendations to the full Board regarding membership of the CAC, ensuring that it is diverse and representative of the region's communities.

Our intent is to find individuals committed to giving input via CAC to serve the broader interests of the region as a whole. We are not seeking individuals who represent particular interests or advocacy groups. There will, however, be other opportunities for interest groups or advocacy organizations to share their concerns and ideas with the Board on an ongoing basis. Individual applicants not selected for the CAC will also have other opportunities to participate.

Applications can be faxed or emailed.. A web version of the form mil also be available a Sincerely, Elliott Hartstein



Mike Payne on Gray Line in context of combining all the agencies

More: Visit Gray Line page with links to Payne's site.

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 [now Regional Planning Board] 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 [2005], from 11am to 2pm, Versionfest>04 is hosting their Nfo Xpo Festival at Chicago's Cultural Center on Randolph & Michigan (info: ). 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 literature.

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,
Mike Payne


General recommendations from the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan: about, considerations, general recommendations--more in 2030SharedPath page

A wide range of official and public participants partook in well-advertized development of the Plan, although many still found public involvement insufficient or in many cases ignored.

Common themes heard in comment:

  • More and better integrated public transit
  • Better land use and transportation integration
  • More bicycle and pedestrian options
  • Better services for seniors and people with disabilities
  • Improved freight management
  • safety, with special reference to pedestrians
  • Improved traffic congestion management

Intent, Scope, constraints

  • to promote efficient travel behavior and accommodate and to promote and efficient urban economy and sustain it
  • approach is "regional": top to bottom coordination is needed for all and any transportation decisions to work
  • long-range timeframe
  • "regular daily travel" is the principal concern- demands placed on the system by workers and businesses while not ignoring community and environmental attributes
  • constrained by financial resources and air quality requirements.

Here is the draft pick for SharedPath2030 Major Capital Projects:

Each category is subdivided in the following way. The start of a type of transit is represented by a letter:

A Chicago Transit Hub
B Improvement/extension to existing rapid transit
C Improvement/extension to existing commuter rail
D Existing major highways

E Expanding system to manage growth and change- bus rapid transit or for new employment centers
F New rail transportation corridors
G New highway corridors

There are four tiers:

1) Committed: Projects well along in planning and funded
2) System: Quicker turnaround
3) Project: More ready
4 ) Corridor: Those in early planning or lacking consensus/has competing solutions.

In the first category:

  • CTA Circle Line Phase I- A
  • Union Pacific West extension to Elburn (underway) -C

In the second category:

  • Green Line new stations- B
  • Rock Island track and yard upgrades- C
  • Southwest Service to Manhattan (under constr.)- C
  • Metra Electric service upgrade- C
  • North Central Service infrastructure and service upgrade (underway)- C
  • Union Pacific Northwest track and signal upgrade- C
  • Union Pacific West track and signal upgrade- C
  • Improvements to reconstruction to the following highways: I-90 Northwest Tollway, I-88 East-West Tollway, I294/94 Tri-State, IL394, I-80/94, I-57, I-80, I-55, Elgin-O'Hare lanes- all D
  • Extension of the Elgin-O'Hare and West O'Hare Bypass expressways- E
  • North-Central Will County I-355 I-55-80- G

In the third:

  • CTA Circle Line Phase II- A
  • Airport Express Rapid Transit (to O'Hare and Midway)-A
  • Orange line extension to Ford City- B
  • Cermak Bus Rapid Transit- E
  • DuPage "J" Line Bus Rapid Transit- E

In the fourth:

  • CTA Circle line Phase III- A
  • West Loop Transportation Center (Clinton subway)- A
  • Central Area Bus Rapid Transit Center- A
  • Yellow Line extension to Old Orchard, new stations- B
  • Red Line extension southward- B
  • Blue line extensions- B
  • Rock Island to Minoka- C
  • Southwest Service possible extension to Midewin- C
  • Metra Electric possible extension to a Peotone Airport- C
  • North Central full service- C
  • Heritage Corridor new stations- C
  • Milwaukee District West extension toward/to Rockford or Hampshire- C
  • Milwaukee District North extensions to Richmond, Wadsworth- C
  • Union Pacific Northwest extension to Johnsburg, possibly Richmond- C
  • Burlington extension to Oswego, possibly Plano- C
  • I-290 High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes- D
  • Ogden avenue Transitway- E
  • Southeast Commuter Rail Service- E
  • Mid-City Transitway- F (new rail cor.)
  • Inner Circumferential (O-Hare to Midway)- F
  • Outer Circumferential- F
  • Richmond-Waukegan- G
  • Central Lake County (IL53)- G
  • South Suburban I-355 I-80 to I 57- G
  • I-57/IL394 Connector by Peotone- G
  • Illiana to I -65- G
  • Prairie Parkway I-80 to I-88- G

Note: Planners are now leaning toward using a rail rather than Bishop Ford right-of-way for the Red Line extension, citing benefits to communities and development.

What's in it for the Southeast Corridor? Almost all the gains for us would be in better connections and service at a distance, for example in and around the central hub including (among those given the highest grades) Circle Line and more stations on the Green Line. Also, new intermediate distance service and transfer hubs, and new or express service to and beyond O'Hare/Northwest suburbs and Midway.

The principal recommendation for southeast would be improvements for Metra Electric (in the privileged 2nd or "quick turnaround" tier) with connection at the south to various "Southeast Service" proposal giving service to I-80 Illiana suburbs and a future Peotone airport. Go to Needs and News for links to descriptions of Gray Line (the place-holder recommendation) and SECRET. The south-extension part is really in a "study corridor" with several alternate proposals.

RTA has endorsed the Metra Star Line option, which will go from the Blue Line end at O'Hare northwest to Hoffman Estates, thence south to Joliet. Metra is also pushing a route going through south-southwest suburbs, in response to criticism that heavily minority suburbs are being neglected.

Read about the 2003 Regional Transportation Plan

CATS is now seeking comment on its programs it says will put the Region on track to meet federal air quality standards, with which the feds say the region is not in compliance but must be by mid 2005, as well as on updates to the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan, short-term TIP, and the Metropolitan Planning Authority boundary. See where to view, comment below.

The RTP (Regional Transportation Plan) Committee now meets 4th Thursdays at 9:30 am.

2. WEB RESOURCES. The following resources are available to provide
more information for those interested in further involvement in project,
corridor, and strategic studies and implementation.

a. Context Sensitive Solutions (IDOT).

b. Soles and Spokes Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan for Chicago Area
Transportation (CATS):

c. Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project (Chicago Transit Authority):

d. Kingery Expressway Reconstruction Project (I-80/94):

e. Cook-DuPage Multimodal Corridor Study (RTA):

f. Wikaduke SRA Study:

g. Caton Farm – Bruce Road SRA Study:


Special recommendations of 2030 including Congestion mitigation and air quality improvement recommendations

Current proposals for air quality and congestion mitigation are navigated from the new Regional Planning Board website. Mid South Side proposed: $35 million for a bike-ped bridge across Lake Shore Drive at 35th Street, express bus service on 79th.

CMAQ Program (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement). Project examples: transit service improvements, traffic signal interconnects, bicycle/pedestrian projects that eliminate or reduce automobile trips. You'd be surprised how much and the variety these programs fund.


To search transportation management and assets in the region: Transportation Asset Management System (RTAMS): (You must register to use this site.)

The Traffic Atlas: Where and when you'll encounter it along the various expressways and arterials. Go to the CATS site for this GIS-generated atlas and much more material on-line.

Regional Planning Board holds a whole suite of task force meetings on topics that feed into production of Regional Transportation Plans. Contact or or, all still up. Work on the 2030 plan is in progress now, and seeks to go beyond addressing the usual mobility and capacity demands.

Soles and Spokes, a coalition under the Chicago Area Transportation Study, is holding meetings and design workshops on developing bike and pedestrian friendly communities, including our own. (Cottage Grove has just been striped for bikes. Let us know how this works out, whether you are a bike rider, CTA rider, or motorist.) More in bike plans and news.

Soles and Spokes Task Force meets from time to time at CATS headquarters, 300 W. Adams, 2nd Floor. Visit and www.rpbchicago/bikeped (not tested). To take an on-line survey on what you want to see in trails and their amenities, visit Contact: Tom Murtha.

PACE and CTA have both seen huge increases in use of the bus bike racks in the past year. They're on nearly every bus. METRA is only accommodating bikes on Burlington and UP Northwest lines, certain times.

Campaign for Better Transit/Neighborhood Capital Budget Group

The websites of these groups have much related to transit planning and needs. CBT has an explanatory booklet, originally for legislators and planners, that is available: "The Weary Traveler."

CNT/CTAQC: "Changing Direction: Transportation Choices for 2030
Report Presents Public's Vision of Transportation in 2030"--an alternative from Center for Neighborhood Technology to CATS (Chicago Area Transportation Study)'s Shared Path 2030.

During the past eighteen months, the Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission (CTAQC) held summits across the northeastern Illinois region to facilitate public involvement in transportation planning. The results of this process was that the residents of northeast Illinois want choice in their transportation modes, voice in the decision making process, and change in the way their taxpayer dollars are being invested in transportation projects that they did not want. To see Changing Direction: Transportation Choices for 2030, the report that synthesizes these results, and find out about the forums and symposia these groups hold regularly, visit: General site is

Business Leaders for Transportation, a coalition of Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Metropolis 2020, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, is trying to get the Illinois Congressional delegation behind an agenda for the federal highway and transit program renewal, up this September. Send for their pamphlet, Getting the Chicago Region Moving, to learn what they are seeking. They ask input. Main recommendations are:

  • Fund older transit systems for rehabilitation and new capacity needs
  • Distribute transit funding on a needs-based formula
  • Have a formula (Revenue Aligned Authority) that maximizes distribution from the trust fund and require equivalent match structures between highway and transit, make other reforms
  • Double the transit program to $14 million by 2009Provide incentives for transit-oriented planning and integrated land use and transportation planning.

They also propose reforms and funding for highway, freight, intercity passenger rail and note that in the Midwest, Illinois received the least increased funding from TEA-21 and has the worst increasing highway congestion. Top

Streamlining connections, reaching out

CTA is building a new superstation connecting lines in the heart of the Loop, under 108 State (block 37 across from Marshall Fields/Macys). One objective is to run express trains to O'hare and Midway. In addition, it has on trial running the Cermak Branch of the Blue Line north on the Paulina Branch, thence east and around the El Loop, ending that line's direct runs to O'Hare and perhaps creating problems for those accessing the West Side Medical Center, U of I and high schools and maybe overloading the EL esp. the junction at Lake and Wells, but creating new direct connections. Rerouting the Cermak (Silver) line is the first phase in a new Circle Line (really half-circle) around downtown connecting routes.

Metra is moving ahead with line extensions and new lines (if funding can be found)--the first is a very expensive extension of the southwest line to Manhattan. There has been opposition on the far South Side and South Suburbs to routing of a proposed new southeast line.

Is CREATE, the planning to eliminate bottlenecks in freight movement, moving ahead or not? Canadian National, whose lines are a lynchpin in the effort, has pulled out. Top

A new bus express service to 8 midwest cities is starting up soon. It's internet based, so go to It's by Stagecoach Co. and will be discount and cheaper than any other way to get to these cities. Served from Downtown Chicago in spoke-style are Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis. People rave about it. Top

Metra Electric conversion (based on Mike Payne's Grayline idea) gains traction at 5th Ward July 2008 Olympic meetings.

At the July 2008 5th Ward Olympics meeting James Withrow of HPKCC Hyde Park Transit Task Force and Linda Thisted of Coalition for Equitable Community Development and Interfaith Open Communities Hyde Park presented a version of Mike Payne's "Gray Line" concept to integrate via leasing Metra Electric (here South Chicago Branch) by the CTA system, with frequent L type service and a common fare card. After familiarizing other aldermen along the route, a request could be made for a cost and feasibility assessment--Ald. Hairston says that as a single infrastructure upgrade for the Olympics and in general, it makes a lot of sense and bang for minimum dollar. Parts of the rationale include the relative and growing density along this route from Kenwood through South Shore, that the mid south except for Hyde Park has some of the longest commutes to jobs in the metro region, and the solid and growing centers of attraction and new developments along the line. Top

Here is from the report by Thisted and Withrow:

Public Transportation Proposal - Integrate the Metra South Chicago Branch into the CTA system, running trains at 10 minute intervals throughout the day and night.

  • Benefits for the Olympics:
    • With stops at McCormick Place, Michael Reese [Village], 55th, 59th, and 63rd Streets, it would provide frequent, quick access for tourists staying dwontown to major Olympic venues (Soldier Filed, Northerly Island, McCormick Place, Olympic Vilage, Washington Park, Jackson Park)
    • For people from around the city, especially for thsoe living on the southside, who want to work at Olympic venues, it would provide frequent, quick access through an integrated CTA system.
  • For Hyde Park
    • It would provide quick, frequent train access for people throughout the city to the planned Harper Court [and other] downtown Hyde Park shopping and enteratinment complex
    • For students, it would give them frequent, fast access to downtown and northside venues dayand night, weekday and weekend
  • For people living near the Metra/South Chicago Branch
    • Itd would give them quick acess to jobs located throughout the city, not just 9 to 5 jobs located downtown
    • It would serve one of the most densely populated areas of the southside


A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit Task Force/ Transportation and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website, (email) Help support our work: Join the Conference! Join and work with the Task Force- contact chairman James Withrow.