In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
Over the past few years, the Chicago Transit Authority has opened three new “infill” stations—new stops located along existing tracks but filling long gaps between other stops. Last month, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) conducted a brief study of initial ridership effects of the latest station to open, at Cermak Road-McCormick Place on the Green Line, and found that the stop was building ridership for the system, not cannibalizing from existing services. In addition, the stop offers the opportunity to build millions of square feet of new transit-oriented development in the South Loop neighborhood.
MPC is hosting a series of events in the coming months that will highlight our work and bring new ideas to the local discussion about urban planning. Most relevant to the conversation about the impact of new stations is a roundtable we are hosting on October 6 that delves into the issue of how the Chicago region can grow by filling in, rather than spreading out. MPC will also be hosting roundtables on community livability, financing water infrastructure and making neighborhoods more accessible just in the next two months.
Most exciting, though, may be MPC’s celebration of this year’s Burnham Award winner: The 606 trail and affiliated parks. On September 29, we’ll be hosting a party to honor the project with food, drinks and live music. Join us!
transit in the Chicago region
Last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority announced that service would be improved on the 9 and 49 bus routes, which serve Ashland and Western Avenue and which are some of the region’s most popular lines. The improvements, to be dubbed the X9 and X49, will be express buses that serve only stops every half mile and which benefit from transit signal priority, allowing them to cruise through intersections.
Maybe some of the buses on that route will be the transit authority’s newest. The agency revealed in August that it would buy 125 new buses from Nova. The buses will be made in Upstate New York and will replace old vehicles completed between 2000 and 2002.
MPC has been working to identify new funding sources for the Chicago region’s transit networks. Crain’s Chicago Business profiled MPC’s Transit Facility Improvement Areas, which, if passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor, will allow transit agencies to fund such projects as the renovation of Union Station and the reconstruction of the Red and Purple El Lines using value capture.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs that city’s Subway system, is opening an extension of the 7 Subway line this Sunday. The 1.5-mile project, which includes one new station, was funded primarily through value capture. A new neighborhood called Hudson Yards, the largest urban development in the U.S., is being built around the new stop.
Minneapolis and St. Paul, our neighbors to the north, are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the opening of their Green Line. The project, which connects the downtowns of the two cities, is the second light rail line in the Twin Cities. The line is attracting big crowds: The project was estimated to attract 27,000 riders on an average weekday but is exceeding 40,000 daily riders. The project has also attracted $3 billion in surrounding development.
FiveThirtyEight posted an intriguing analysis of how public transit and ridesharing services interact. The study demonstrated that, if the conditions are right, these two transportation options can work together and support one another, rather than compete with each other.