Making big plans for bus rapid transit; here's hoping the cash follows

At least the Metropolitan Planning Council is following Daniel Burnham's credo:

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized."

The proposed $1.23 billion bus rapid transit plan put forward Wednesday by the Chicago planning council is certainly large, and stirring - and perhaps a bit of a dream. And that's good. Read the full MPC report.

The plan by the numbers:

  • 10 CTA BRT routes are proposed.
  • The routes would cover about 95 miles in mostly bus-only lanes.
  • Stops would be about a half mile apart.
  • Passengers would prepay while waiting and before boarding.
  • Cost: at the high end, about $13 million per mile, or $1.2 billion.

MPC says the cost could be partly covered by federal grants, and by special service area funds. SSAs are special taxing bodies usually around commercial districts that collect extra taxes for local improvements such as security, marketing and sidewalk cleaning and snow removal.

I won't get more into the details here, since there were plenty of stories here, here and here. But check out the good Tribune graphic below for other details.

And let's start saving our pennies.



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  • It would be a lot cheaper to just bring back the X buses on all those routes.
    And have the X49 go from Howard to 119th, instead of Berwyn to 79th.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    How about the X49 from the Howard St. 'L' to the Blue Island Transit Center: (Metra/RI|CTA/GrayLine,49A|Pace/348,349,359,385,877)

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Basically 2 points.

    1. The X49 was Berwyn Ave. to Evergreen Plaza. While it incorporated the territory of 49A/349 through the forest preserve, apparently (ever since the Green Hornet streetcar) the 49A and 49B segments don't support the same level of service as the 79th to Berwyn one, and CTA only serves 49A during rush hour.

    2. In light of 1, it is not clear the extent this would indicate lack of regional cooperation, with regard to whether Pace or CTA is the natural operator or 49A/349. However, it is not as egregious as the Pace on and off proposal for BRT on Harlem from Glenview to Tinley Park, considering that it would go through some city territory (Touhy to Higgins, where 423 is coordinated with 90A, and Higgins to Grand, which is traditional 90), not to mention the contention over CTA extending 90 to the Green Line, which really hasn't been resolved.

  • I commented in one of the newspapers that I am glad to see that they are now engaged in writing fiction,

    Given that Congress supposedly is cutting the Transportation Bill by 1/3, don't expect billions for this, especially since CTA doesn't have the operating money and is no longer engaged in the charade about leaving federal dollars on tha table.

    I'm sure Mike Payne will tell us what a recommendation by a planning agency has gotten us, 10 years in.


    The Regional Transportation Authority will spend up to $435,000 to see how
    satisfied riders are with transit service.

    RTA board directors approved the expense Thursday, hiring Vermont-based Resource
    Systems Group (RSG) for one year. The questionnaire will cover just Metra and
    CTA users as Pace is doing its own survey.

    "You can never do enough of asking customers what they think of your service,"
    RTA Chief Financial Officer Grace Gallucci said when asked about the cost at a
    time when Metra is contemplating fare hikes to balance its budget.

    "Private firms do these things very frequently and spend a lot of money to do

    The survey has been a long time in the making. The RTA started planning in 2009.
    In January, it hired RSG to come up with a methodology for the study, paying the
    company $83,000 through a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning grant.

    In the past, the CTA, Metra and Pace conducted independent surveys. It's more
    efficient and informative to evaluate customer feelings on a regional basis,
    Gallucci said.

    Riders will be asked a range of questions on topics including fares, cleanliness
    of buses, trains and stations, and on-time performance.

    "This will help us focus funding in the right areas," Gallucci said.
    The surveys will go out in the fall. It should take RSG four months to analyze
    the data and write a report.

    Pace's survey will conform to the RTA methodology, officials said.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Translation of the original post and yours quoting the press release:

    Someone is keeping more consultants paid, but nothing is going to be accomplished.

    1. The RTA doesn't care about what riders think. Hell, they didn't care what the Auditor General wrote.

    2. Maybe it is not a fractured as other efforts as supposedly it involves CTA and Metra and Pace is using the same methodology, but fractured nonetheless.

    I'll bet that the outcome is "well the riders want things that will cost $4 billion in new operating and $10 billion in new capital, so let's roll out 'Moving Beyond Congestion' again."

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