In the Loop: February 25, 2015 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: February 25, 2015

Chicago Transit Authority on Flickr (cc).

Chicago’s new Cermak-McCormick Place station strikes a dramatic pose.

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

@metroplanners news

This month, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) launched the Accelerate Illinois campaign in association with several partners, including AARP, Regional Transportation Authority, Transportation for Illinois Coalition and Active Transportation Alliance. Accelerate Illinois’ goal is to understand the frustrations typical Illinoisans experience with their transportation options on a daily basis and ensure that legislators in the General Assembly are responding to their concerns. MPC staff will share the public’s concerns in Springfield throughout 2015.

transit in the Chicago region

Chicago’s newest elevated station opened this month on the Green Line at Cermak-McCormick Place. The dramatic new stop, which features a domed roof over the platform, offers easy access to the nation’s largest convention center and the Motor Row district, which is undergoing revitalization. This station is the first new El station since the Morgan (Green and Pink Lines) and Oakton-Skokie (Yellow Line) stations opened in 2012.

Despite significant snow fall early in the year, Chicago’s transit system has been relatively resilient, with few delays. That has not been the case in Boston, where the city’s rail and bus services were terribly handicapped by that city’s record snow fall.

Chicago’s good performance this winter, however, may be harder to maintain in the future. The Regional Transportation Authority recently estimated that the region’s transit systems face a $36 billion gap in funding necessary to reach a state of good repair. Good thing the Argonne National Laboratory is examining how the transit system would function during a major emergency situation.

Several major new transit improvement projects were just announced by the Chicago Transit Authority this month. The federal government announced it would provide the agency a $120 million loan for the rehab of the Blue Line O’Hare branch. And the transit authority reached a deal with the four major U.S. cellphone carriers to offer 4G LTE coverage in the Red and Blue Line subways downtown.

further afield

In San Francisco, train services offered by the region’s Bay Area Rapid Transit across the Bay to Oakland cease operating at midnight, blocking off thousands of people who work at night from easy access to and from home. That’s why more and more people and organizations are joining San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to promote the idea of a second tunnel under the Bay, which would allow all-night service.

The New York City region has also been discussing a new underwater tunnel—under the Hudson River—but funding has been limited. A group called Move NY recently unveiled a plan to reform tolling in the region, reducing tolls on bridges in the city’s outer boroughs and tolling what are currently free bridges into the Manhattan business district. The plan would raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually for improved transit.

At a smaller scale, Indianapolis is moving forward with a swell $20 million transit center whose roofline is sure to enliven downtown. In Mesa, Ariz., locals are counting on a light rail line to help rethink the way development in the center of the city works.

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