CTA: Is the "Gray Line" a Viable Option

CTA: Is the "Gray Line" a Viable Option

In June, the Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) announced that they will need to close down the Red Line train line for 5 months to complete renovations necessary to improve transit times for Southside riders. The announcement was met with mixed reactions. Some applauded the action as others felt that Southsiders were getting a raw deal. Subsequently, it was announced that the City of Chicago had secured a grant to renovate the 95th Street station. The station which acts a transfer hub to the far southside, south suburbs and points out of state. Again, the announcement was met with mixed reactions as details started coming out that some private property would need to be purchased to complete the project.

Many southsiders ride the “Red Line” as a result of past renovations and station closings on the “Green Line” that serves the Southeast and Southwest sides. During past renovations some stations were renovated and other stops were closed and some were completed torn down. The rationale for eliminating these stations was low ridership and safety. Some riders got frustrated and never returned to the “Green Line” and have ridden the “Red Line” ever since.

Some on the far Southeast side avoid CTA as much as possible by riding the South Shore electric line which starts in Michigan City, indiana and ends in Downtown Chicago. For many, they do not use this option because they site cost and inconvenience. Now with less than six months until the start of the project, many riders are starting to seriously look at what their options are. Those communities near the “Green Line” east and west are looking at what stops will see increase in traffic. How will the traffic impact their communities? Will there be any economic benefit?

Recently, I was contacted about another option, the “Gray Line”. What is the “Gray Line”? The “Gray Line” is the Metra Southeast electric line that serve the Southeast side of Chicago. The stops start east and end up in Blue Island which is a suburb that borders Chicago on the Southwest. The stops include the University of Chicago and Chicago State University. Currently, the Chicago State University stop is under going renovations and there are long term plans to expand the stop.

There are some good reasons to expand this line. It would reduce the number of riders reliant on buses traveling east and west to Red Line stops. While most of the stations are modern and well lit some of the smaller stations require entry/exit through viaducts and that worries some. Also, some of the stops do not provide the seamless train to bus connections that the Red Line stations currently provide.

Long-term the “Gray Line” appears to provide the greatest economic benefit as it expands through a number of communities and travels further south than the “Green Line”. Per, the website the line would cost approximately $200.0 million and create 8-10,000 jobs. These facts have not been verified but appear to be worth looking into.

Would this be a viable option long term? A powerpoint presentation is available at https://www.box.com/shared/2iuoc4khdl


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  • F I R S T - And M O S T Important, Metra is holding a Strategic Plan Open House on their future Goals and Directions at Chicago State University - on Monday November 12th from 4 to 7 pm.

    Representatives from Metra's Administrative, Financial, Operating, and Planning Depts. will be there; it is O U R Community's chance to give OUR input to Metra as to what it's future Plans for it's Services IN OUR Communities should be.

    A LOT about the Gray Line has been more or less suppressed:

    For example it is not generally known that like mostly all of CTA, Metra, and Pace's Transit proposals - the Gray Line is I N C L U D E D in CMAP's (the Chicago Metroplitan Agency for Planning) Regional Transportation Plan ("CTA Gray Line 'L' Route" Project - RTP Project ID# 01-02-9003).

    See "Metra Electric District Improvements" at bottom of page: http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/shared-path-2030/project-links

    IT IS the O N L Y Plan in the RTP that was Submitted BY and Accepted FROM a Private Individual/Black Person (Mike Payne, rather than one of the Transit Operators - or a Government Agency or Municipality; and it took me (working alone) several years to pursued them to change their policy to accept submissions from Individuals and/or Community Organizations. And the Gray Line is specifically designed to improve Transit Service, and Economic Developement on the Southeast Side of Chicago.

    The Gray Line ranked highest in a Study of Projects in the Regional Transportation Plan done by the Center for Neighborhood Technology/Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission: http://www.grayline.20m.com/favorite_links_5.html

    Notice how on the attached copy of the CATS Shared Path 2030 Page "Information regarding Proposals in (repeat "IN") the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan" where the "Gray Line Rapid Transit Element" is indicated for the "Electric Service" (Metra Electric District), with a link to my PRIVATE CITIZEN's WEBSITE: http://www.grayline.20m.com/

    E V E R Y other link on the Page is to a Government Agency - and it took A LOT OF WORK to accomplish that.

    In 2009 CNT/CTAQC made the following Recommendation: "The Chicagoland Transportation and Air Quality Commission, affilated with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, ranked the GRAY LINE as the most SENSIBLE and WORTHY Transit Idea out of A L L the Transportation Projects being proposed for Chicagoland"; and it could serve as an easy-to-implement RAIL Alternative to next years Red Line shutdown.

    HOWEVER, since I am a Minimum-Wage Gas Station cashier - I can't afford to send Lobbiysts to Springfield, Washington, the USDOT, and Congress to seek the relatively small $200 Million to build a New 25 mile 40 Station 'L' System across Chicago's ENTIRE South and Southeast Sides, as opposed to $200 Million for 95th St. ALONE (plus $200 Million for Wilson Ave. on the North Side).

    I will be at the November 12th Open House at Chicago State to testify to the Metra Representatives present, to distribute Gray Line Literature and Information, and display a Large Scale Model of one of the new Metra Highliner II's modified for a Rapid-Transit type of operation.

    Please attend if you can,

    Mike Payne


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