Flickr user Genial 23 (cc).
The Lawrence Station on the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line—soon to be improved.
In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
We’re excited about maintaining our infrastructure. Aren’t you?
This month, Metropolitan Planning Council staff continued outreach across the state, spreading the message of the Accelerate Illinois initiative, which encourages our representatives in Springfield to dedicate long-term and reliable revenues to transportation. It’s a message that’s resonating across the country, now that maintenance has surpassed new construction in its share of the nation’s transportation spending. To celebrate the occasion, we took our giant scissors and video camera to DuPage County, where we interviewed a few workers filling potholes (and then ate some cake). It’s important work.
We think the importance of maintaining our transit system in a state of good repair is especially important because our public transportation system is the lifeblood of the Chicago region’s economy and an essential tool for getting around for many of the area’s inhabitants. New research we’ve released this month shows that land near transit in Chicago is significantly more valuable than land farther away—but that our zoning codes, while headed in the right direction, still don’t allow enough new construction near stations.
If we’re wondering how to encourage more growth in our region, finding ways to encourage more people to live and work near our transit lines must be a priority.
transit in the Chicago region
Encouraging transit-oriented development is essential not just for the city of Chicago, but also for nearby towns. Residents of Northwest Indiana, for example, are hoping to pair the construction of a new rail line with new real estate construction.
We also have to make it easier for people to take advantage of transportation alternatives. Fortunately, Metra commuter rail is working with the Chicago Transit Authority on the implementation of a ticketing app that will allow riders to buy tickets using their mobile phones, saving them time and pain. The coming expansion of the Divvy bike sharing system will also invite people to get out of their cars.
The coming reconstruction of the Chicago Transit Authority Red and Purple Lines, which the agency unveiled this week, is another boost. The $1.9 billion project will improve stations, add accessibility and speed up trains.
Chicago isn’t the only area thinking about ways to ease fare payments. In Southeast Michigan, the Regional Transportation Authority is working to implement a regional fare card that would integrate fare payments on transit services in Detroit, its suburbs and Ann Arbor.
Other regions are also looking to transit-oriented development as a tool to handle growth. In Denver, for example, the Urban Land Conservancy is stocking up on parcels adjacent to future light rail stations in order to provide space for new affordable housing.
And lest we forget the importance of investing in the transit system itself, many cities continue their work to invest in new bus rapid transit lines. In Pittsburgh, the community is discussing the possibility for a new line connecting the city’s Oakland and Uptown neighborhoods. And in Indianapolis, a 28-mile electric bus line running north-south through the city is moving quickly through the approval process. Construction on the project could begin in 2017.