Flickr user Eric Garcetti (CC)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti celebrates the opening of Los Angeles’ Expo Line light rail extension to Santa Monica.
In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
The State of Illinois has been investing less and less in its transportation system, but work by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) over the last few months is directed toward addressing this problem head-on. Through a campaign to fund $43 billion in improvements to roads, bridges and the transit network over the next 10 years, MPC is working hard to make transportation an important part of our state’s legislative activities.
As part of this effort, MPC is supporting the proposal for a transportation lockbox—which would preserve transportation funding for transportation—as well as a new system that would allow transit projects to “capture” the value they create in order to be funded.
If MPC’s work in Springfield on legislative proposals for transportation funding is too serious, our upcoming Think & Drink events might be a little more fun. Over the next two months, MPC will be hosting three such after work events, one with our peer organizations, New York’s Regional Plan Association and San Francisco’s SPUR (on June 2); another with WBEZ reporter and author of the new book The South Side, Natalie Moore (on June 16); and one with former head of the Twin Cities Metro Council Susan Haigh (July 14). Join us for nights of fun and learning!
transit in the Chicago region
MPC’s work on the need to fund transportation infrastructure in Illinois was covered in a helpful article in the Chicago Tribune on the state’s transportation challenges. It’s a big issue that needs more people to take it on as their cause.
If more money were available, certain upgrades would be more feasible. Supporters of a plan to improve the service standards of the Metra Electric District line, which runs south from the Loop to Hyde Park, South Shore, Pullman and the South Suburbs, say that they believe a more attractive, convenient transit service would be a boon to their neighborhoods. They believe that it is essential to improve local transit to improve their ability to access jobs and other amenities.
Many of them want transit-oriented development around station stops, though some on Chicago’s northwest side suggest that too many recent development projects only provide apartments for the wealthy. Finding ways to encourage equitable new construction is a top priority for places that face these concerns.
Los Angeles opened its latest light rail extension earlier this month. The Expo Line now extends practically to the Pacific Ocean, connecting downtown L.A. with Santa Monica. The project makes that city’s rail rapid transit network longer than Chicago’s, though L.A.’s transit ridership is still far lower than Chicago’s and there’s plenty of work to be done to encourage more transit-oriented development around its lines.
Four cities in other parts of the country are looking to supplement their transit networks with new bus rapid transit lines. Milwaukee is planning an east-west line that will connect its downtown streetcar to a major hospital and attract some 9,000 daily riders. Montgomery County, in suburban Washington, D.C., hopes to extend a line north from the Silver Spring business district along 14 miles of a major arterial. Indianapolis is planning the nation’s first all-electric frequent bus route—at least if voters agree to fund it this fall. And Raleigh hopes for a pair of bus rapid transit lines, also if voters get on board.