In the Loop: November 13, 2014 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: November 13, 2014

Thomas Hawk (cc)

A subway station in Los Angeles, where ground was just broken on a new subway extension.

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

@metroplanners news

As described in this month’s Talking Transit, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) will be hosting a roundtable on Tuesday, Nov. 18, featuring Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Ill. Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), Jeffrey Sriver of the Chicago Dept. of Transportation and Audrey Wennink of Cambridge Systematics, who will discuss the progress made so far on the CREATE series of projects designed to speed up existing freight and passenger rail services, and the potential for future improvements. The roundtable will be moderated by Wes Lujan of Union Pacific Railroad.

CREATE is playing an essential role in encouraging Chicagoland’s freight-manufacturing nexus, which is one of the region’s most important industrial clusters and a driver of the overall economy.


The Chicago Transit Authority has had electrified train services since the agency was founded in 1947, but in October it added its first fully electric buses. The two buses, which go further in terms of environmental-friendliness than the agency’s many hybrid diesel-electric buses (15 percent of the fleet), are 40 feet long and expected to save the agency $25,000 annually in fuel costs. They did, however, cost about twice as much as a conventional bus model.

In October, the transit authority also released its proposed budget for 2015. The budget avoids any fare increases—surely a happy note for customers—in its overall $1.44 billion spending plan. It also provides increasing levels of service for Blue, Brown, Orange, Red and Purple Line train services in response to steady increases in ridership on its trains.

Chicago’s residents have been riding trains for more than a century. A new exhibit organized by DePaul University professor Joe Schwieterman called Terminal Town will open at Union Station in November, celebrating the history of this region’s rail stations, existing and demolished.

Elsewhere in the Midwest, rail systems are also making the news. In the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., the opening of the Green Line light rail service a few months ago has resulted in the doubling of that region’s rail ridership. Meanwhile, metropolitan area ridership overall has increased by 7 percent.

Hoping to duplicate the success of the Midwest’s rail services, Sunbelt cities are also investing in new lines. This month, Los Angeles broke ground on a roughly four-mile extension of its Purple Line subway, which will extend services to Beverly Hills by 2023. Planners in Dallas proposed a new streetcar link through downtown, combined with a light rail subway, both designed to connect to a proposed new high-speed rail line that could speed travel to Houston when it arrives in a decade.

Like Chicago, other cities are investing in improved bus service through the implementation of bus rapid transit lines. Oakland, Calif. received $81 million in federal funds to build a 9.5-mile line that is expected to open in 2017. In New York City, city council members are pushing for a full-featured bus rapid transit line in Queens, along that borough’s popular Woodhaven Boulevard.


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