In the Loop: April 28, 2016 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: April 28, 2016

Flickr user Michael Hicks (cc).

Minneapolis' light rail system has been credited with increasing property values.

In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.

@metroplanners news

Early this month, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) released its findings that the state of Illinois needs $43 billion over the next 10 years to address our transportation system’s infrastructure needs. The research has led to a statewide public discussion about the vital investments we must make to shore up roads, bridges and transit networks to meet our needs.

Progress has been made on that front by the Ill. House, which passed by a massive majority a bill that would put on this November’s ballot a constitutional amendment ensuring that funds raised for transportation are not diverted to other needs. The bill, which must still be approved by the Ill. Senate, is an important step forward—now we must back it with additional revenues. 

MPC notes that in order to raise $43 billion, we need about $2.7 billion in new revenues a year—equal to a 30-cent increase in the motor fuel tax and a 50 percent increase in registration fees. A vehicle-miles traveled fee could also be useful in raising funds in the future.

transit in the Chicago region

More transit money is likely coming from the federal government to the Chicago region in the coming months, if the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Transportation and Housing funding bill is passed by the full Senate and House. The legislation would provide $100 million to jump-start work on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red and Purple Line Modernization project, which will rebuild tracks and stations on those lines north of Belmont station. This funding would be derived from the Core Capacity program, a type of grant from the Federal Transit Administration designed to rebuild and improve the capacity of older transit systems.

The CTA will be integrating a lot of new art into the project, expanding the El system’s already extensive collection. The CTA now has more than 60 pieces on display at 50 stations around the city, and the agency has put together a website to showcase the work.


For inspiration, CTA could take a look at San Francisco, where the massive Transbay Transit Center is nearing completion. That project includes a unique exterior panel system that is an art piece in itself.

Good art is also on display in places like Minneapolis, where new light rail lines opened in recent years have integrated sculptures as part of stops. Perhaps that art has played a role in another important trend: Rising home values. According to a new study, access to light rail has increased home values

Other cities are hoping for similar positive impacts of new public transportation investments. New airport rail service in Denver opened last week, and now Atlanta and Miami are evaluating how they can significantly expand their systems to adapt to growing populations.

But transit in those places is not nearly as good as it is in Chicago, at least according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s new AllTransit score. AllTransit provides detailed information about service characteristics of cities and regions around the U.S. and offers insight into the places that might need better transit in the future.


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