In the Loop: July 27, 2016 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: July 27, 2016

Flickr user Nitram242 (cc).

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Pink Line has been a feature of the city’s life for 10 years now.

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

@metroplanners news

Much as was noted in this week’s Talking Transit, MPC Research Director Alden Loury argued last week that though jobs have increasingly moved to suburban areas, transit in the Chicago region outside the center city is inadequate, forcing people to rely on automobiles, or, worse, have no access to jobs or other important amenities. It’s a problem that deserves addressing.

Fortunately, the Illinois General Assembly took a major step forward when it approved legislation allowing the creation of value capture districts around four major transit projects in the Chicago region. The bill—which still needs to be signed by the governor—could provide billions of dollars’ worth of additional capital funding to support some of the most important public transportation investments in the area, including the reconstruction of the Red and Purple Lines. MPC has been a major proponent of this legislation for several years now.

transit in the Chicago region

The Chicago Transit Authority celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Pink Line, which connects the Loop with Pilsen, Lawndale and Cicero. The service, which was formerly operated mostly by a branch of the Blue Line, has encouraged significant ridership growth: Between 2005 and 2015, average daily boardings on the line increased from about 11,000 to about 18,000, a much faster rate of increase than the system as a whole.

CTA is expanding bus service—just slightly. The new 31st Street bus, which was implemented by the agency earlier this year in response to community demand for better transit (always a good thing!), will only operate beginning at 10 a.m. In other words, it will miss the morning rush period entirely. Residents have reached out to the transit agency to fight for change, and the CTA is being receptive.

Longer-term improvements may get funding from Cook County, which this month released its first long-range transportation plan in many decades. The plan makes the case for increasing County support for transportation improvements, especially for those that benefit biking, walking and transit use.

elsewhere

Illinois, it seems, was lucky to have passed a temporary budget, which at minimum has kept transportation construction programs in operation throughout the summer. Out east, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has shut down all highway and transit projects funded by that state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which has run out of money due to an unwillingness to raise taxes. NJ Transit, the state’s public transportation operator, has had to ask a manufacturer to stop building it 1,219 new buses meant to refresh the fleet.

In other parts of the country, though, there’s plenty of new investment happening. In the Salt Lake City region, a new bus rapid transit line connecting the cities of Provo and Orem was approved by local authorities. The $190 million project will connect with commuter rail lines and connect with Utah Valley University and Brigham Young. Much of the line will run in dedicated lanes.

That’s important, since those lanes will speed buses and make them more reliable—top priorities for transit riders. According to a new study from TransitCenter, the top priorities of bus and train users are high-frequency, faster and more reliable service.

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