Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chicago commuters, politicians explode in anger over delays planned on CTA

Suddenly the delays in Boston don't look so bad.

A Chicago transit blog CTA TATTLER explodes.

A Chicago Alderman explodes as well

Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) today is calling for City Council hearings on the general CTA nonsense we all experience every day in our commutes to work, school and play.

Riders of the Chicago 'L are bracing for two years of major slowdowns on the CTA's busy NorthSide Red, Brown, and Purple Lines as a major reconstruction of the Brown line continues. The CTA will reduce current 4 track operation down to 3 tracks.

Three-track presentation (PDF format)

CTA Press Release

From Crain's Chicago Business

Under plans detailed for the first time on Wednesday, the CTA this spring
will, one by one, stop using the four tracks which serve the North Side L lines.
The stoppage will enable the CTA to build new tracks to accommodate widening of
L platforms at the Belmont and Fullerton stops and complete other work as part
of the modernization of the Brown Line.

But while the work goes on, the CTA will be without one of the four tracks on its main north/south trunk line. Since those tracks already are used to capacity during rush hour, something will have to go—trains that already are filled during rush hours.

“Overall travel time will significantly increase” for most Red, Brown and Purple Line commuters, at least initially and especially during evening rush periods, CTA officials
announced at a monthly board meeting Wednesday.

The Chicago Tribune reports

Though trains will continue to make all station stops, one northbound
track must be taken out of service while station platforms are rebuilt and
tracks are reconfigured to allow room for elevators.That means the evening rush,
when the bulk of commuters are heading north from downtown, will be most
affected. But the number of southbound trains must be reduced as well to
prevent a bottleneck on the other end.

"You should budget at least double the amount of time to get home and 50
percent additional time to get to work,'' said Michael Shiffer, CTA vice president of planning and development."Trains will be more crowded. It will be
difficult to board during rush hours," Shiffer said.

Evening rush-hour capacity for northbound riders will be reduced by 25
percent, the equivalent of more than 17,400 customers, he said. Thirty-one fewer
northbound Brown, Red and Purple Line trains will operate during this

What makes this a nightmare for Red LIne riders in Chicago is the northern part of that line is in horrific condition as it is and will not be addressed until the Brown Line renovation is complete.


Train Mon! said...

I agree that delays on the MBTA look great by comparison. On the other hand, I think Bostonians could stomach delays if they meant years of loyal patronage were actully going towards updating the largely antiquated system to something futuristic and super-efficient like these projects promise to do... as opposed to paying down debt the company isn't even responsible for.
After reading the Wikipedia article on the Chicago 'L', it seems that if history repeats itself, as with previous improvements, these will come at the expense of turning away a substantial rider base that is low enough already--a rider base that may never return to appreciate the improvements. I mean, like public transit in any other big city, ridership levels can only dip so low before people come to their senses and realize that "parking lot" commutes aren't the way to go; but can the venerable system sustain a significant decrease in ridership at all? On the other hand, the MBTA took a gamble on its ridership numbers with the spike in fares this year, especially on the further zones of the Commuter Rail, and seems to be doing all right in the ridership department. Perhaps, like recent renovations on the D and E Lines, we live in a different time where loyal passengers are more willing to adjust and continue to ride once they realize how much longer their commutes will take during route construction. I do applaud the CTA for coming right out with the numbers--they seem to have things worked out; on the other hand, as the construction work isn't absolutely etched in stone, they shouldn't rule out better management of the "rolling track outages" such that rush hour service isn't impacted so much, even if it means extending the overall project and costing a little bit more.

Fenway said...

Mayor Richard Daley commented on the CTA situation

“When you take the amount of people that are moved in and out of the CTA, they do a tremendous job. Remember, we haven’t gotten any state funding for how many years for operating costs…There’s service disruptions because, unfortunately, it’s an old L system. Think about it. That system is very, very challenging and old.”

Aldermen: CTA a 'third-world transit system'