Flickr user CTA web (cc).
The just-reopened CTA Harrison Red Line Station.
In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
After a month of consultation with the Uptown community about the future of the area adjacent to the Chicago Transit Authority Wilson Station, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) released its Corridor Development Initiative report. The report will be used in consultation with 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman to plan for the future of the area. MPC will lead a similar community engagement process in Logan Square for the area around the Blue Line station there, beginning Thursday, Sept. 9.
MPC is hosting Governor Pat Quinn and businessman Bruce Rauner for our 2014 Annual Luncheon next Thursday, Aug. 28, at noon. At the event, the candidates will discuss their priorities on issues from housing to transportation to water resources. Neither candidate has yet published a transportation platform on their websites, so their insight in person will add significantly to our understanding of their goals for the State of Illinois.
The Chicago Transit Authority is buzzing with activity, retrofitting its stations and lines to make them more effective for riders. This month, the Red Line Harrison Station reopened with brand-new entrances and LED lighting for the first time in a Chicago Transit Authority station. The project, which cost a total of $10 million to complete, improves a stop that serves 1.4 million annual riders. Daily boardings at Harrison have more than doubled from 1,955 in 1998 to 4,199 in 2013.
The Transit Authority plans similar station improvements on the Blue Line. This fall, the California and Damen stations will close for several weeks for significant upgrades.
The agency is also hoping to improve bus service with faster travel times on several lines through the installation of transit signal priority, which reduces the amount of time buses spend sitting at red lights. Funding is available for the project, and is likely to be distributed in the coming months.
Houston is further along on bus improvements, planning to begin construction early next year on a bus rapid transit line through the city’s Uptown district. The project, which will include dedicated bus lanes and cost about $200 million to complete, will serve between 14,000 and 19,000 daily riders by 2017.
The “Space City” is hardly alone—now residents of other areas are starting to push for rapid bus projects of their own. People living in Englewood, New Jersey and Queens, New York want new lines to better serve their most-frequented corridors.
But new bus rapid transit lines are not the only way to improve bus service. Dallas is transitioning its buses to compressed natural gas operation, which will save an estimated $120 million over 10 years and reduced greenhouse gases by more than 14,000 metric tons. Dallas is the second major U.S. city to make this transition; Los Angeles retired its last diesel bus in 2011.
Dallas made news this week, too, opening a new light rail link to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on the Orange Line. The project reinforces the city’s transit status as the longest light rail system in the U.S.
Other cities are also planning for major improvements to their rail systems. Approval was granted in Hennepin County for the construction of a $1.7 billion, 16-mile light rail line running southwest from downtown Minneapolis. The mayor of Phoenix announced his intentions to triple the length of the city’s light rail network. And Oklahoma City is getting closer to asking its citizens to approve a commuter rail system.