Red/Purple Line vision study comments show wide variety of ideas

So I was poking around the CTA website recently, looking for post ideas. I came across a huge Excel file with hundreds of public comments from the North Red and Purple Line Vision Study. Fascinating stuff. You can download it

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I attended the first visioning session late last November. They really worked well.
Large presentation boards conveyed information about the history, status and challenges facing the two trains lines. Participants were encouraged to write down their ideas and comments. They were captured for posterity’s sake in the above downloadable Excel file.

And the good news is the CTA plans to use the comments to inform plans for the so-called North Red and Purple Line Line Corridor, from Addison to Linden. Here’s what a CTA spokesperson said about that:

“The comments were broken down into sub-topics (a, b, c, d, etc). Using this method a person with a very long comment that addressed several issues would be categorized as not just one comment from an individual but several comments.

“The purpose of receiving the comments was for CTA to hear from people and find out what they were concerned about or desired before the agency began developing any types of options for improving the stations.

“The comments were reviewed and are being taken into consideration as the CTA considers its options. Keep in mind there is not yet funding for these projects. CTA is examining ways to apply for federal funding for the projects and public comment will be an important component of the process.”


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  • Quite a few focus on creating an express/local service along that corridor, which makes a ton of sense and would really improve transit on the North Side. That's definitely the biggest change that should be made when they redo the line, in my opinion.

    None of this A/B stop garbage, but have one train (Red?) stop at all stations and the other stop only at selected stations, and run them all day long. There's already room for transfer stations at Howard, Loyola, and Wilson - you would only need one more (Bryn Mawr?) to complete it.

    This is already the most heavily used corridor on the CTA system, and that type of service would allow it to serve passengers even better.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    That does make sense. With the death of AB service, a stop every three blocks is not rapid transit.

    The only ambiguity is whether the outer tracks would be better utilized or they are talking about using the inner track, in which case AB would make more sense (unless they were conceiving a Metra type situation where one train makes its first stop at Bryn Mawr, and conceivably the follower would be far enough back that it wouldn't catch up with the first). There are crossovers north of Granville and Addison, and the Wilson area has to be redone. I suppose that with adequate train identification equipment, the trains could pretty dependably sort themselves at the crossovers.

  • In reply to jack:

    I would utilize both sets of track, a la the NYC subway (or the Belmont/Fullerton stops).

    Run the local trains along the outer tracks and the express trains on the inner tracks. The transfer stations would have simple cross-platform transfers, so people would have an easy time going between the lines.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    Except that (1) the current Red Line runs on the inner tracks and (2) the only stations north of Belmont that have platforms serving the outer track are Sheridan and Wilson (the latter being crummy). Loyola and Bryn Mawr (the most likely transfer stations) only have an island platform in the middle. Thus, crossovers would be necessary.

    In effect, the Red Line is express south of Belmont, as the Brown/Purple Lines serve the outer track stations (Wellington, Diversey, and Armitage).

  • In reply to jack:

    Yep, but I don't think either of those are issues.

    To (1), that's incredibly easy to switch. Just change the tracks on which the lines run. If you don't want to do that, then make the Purple Line the express, doesn't matter.

    For (2), there would definitely be a need to build transfer stations, but since this whole project would involve new stations, that shouldn't be a major issue. Obviously the three transfer stations would be more expensive, but - as I mentioned earlier - there's definitely room for a Belmont-style station at Loyola and Wilson, and the CTA could probably make it work in one more spot.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    As far as building new stations being inexpensive, I doubt that. Also, Loyola was rebuilt in 1980 or so, so it hasn't reached its FTA mandated life.

    If you just make the Purple Line the express, the issue then becomes whether CTA has the operating money to extend the hours of operation, since it already is the express during the rush hour. I thought you were envisioning more.

    As to what the whole project entails, apparently there was some state bond money to rehab stations and viaducts, and the top of the article indicates that no funds have been identified to implement the "vision." Thus, we get back to what I said at the beginning of this process--it doesn't take any vision to do those two tasks.

  • In reply to jack:

    If you re-read my post, I never said building stations would be inexpensive - I actually they would be more expensive. My point is that since the project involves rebuilding most of the stations, we might as well do it right. Obviously the lack of money right now is an issue, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't plan for when the money becomes available.

    And there is a big difference between the way the Purple Line is run right now and a useful express service. Skipping ALL the stops between Howard and Belmont removes a lot of the value of that line. I think my suggestion - to create an express line that stops at major stations and a local line that stops at all stations - is much more useful to residents in that area (and the system as a whole).

    Obviously the operating cost is an issue, but - again - I'm focusing on improving the system on it's most heavily-used corridor. We can deal with the costs after that.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ok I live at Bryn Mawr, and I have to say the whole idea of a new purple line station is nonsense. The purple line is fine the way it is. Want to know how much time you save taking the purple line from belmont to howard? A whopping 10 minutes! That's right, the express isn't all that express. It's just people's inability to zone out due to the stop & go which makes the ride seem longer than it really is. If you want to make the red line run faster, spread out the stops. It takes 30 min to get downtown from 95th street (11 miles) and it takes 30 min to get downtown from Bryn Mawr (8 miles). Why? Because south side red line stops average a mile in between stations. North side averages almost twice as many. If you have a mile in between stops, you could get from Howard to downtown in 30 minutes (which would eliminate the need for a purple line express). I am not saying I 100% agree with this (closing stations will hurt a lot of business; I'm content with spending a few extra minutes on the train to help the economy) but that is the most feasible way to accomplish speedier transit, without costing the city/taxpayers a fortune. Either that or go back to the A/B stops....

    Besides, if you ever rode a Purple line train during rush hour, you would know already that it has too many people on it.

    I definitely agree with making all the stations ADA accessible. There is no ADA station between Addison and Granville. If you ever rode the Broadway bus between those two stops, you will see how many walkers, wheelchairs, babystrollers exist along the red line. As much as they slow down my commute, they deserve equal access to the red line as we do.

    As far as the Wilson & Lawrence stops are concerned, I say tear down Wilson and build a stop at Montrose. You have a long gap between Sheridan & Wilson stops, and a short gap between Wilson and Lawrence. Balance it out. The Green Mill and Aragon have seen better days, and if you remove that stop, you may see them disappear all together. If anything make an entrance to the Montrose station from Wilson street (the 35th street station has an entrance to 33rd street; this is the same distance). This would also allow the CTA to tear down the old worn down buildings that are structurally bound to the L at Wilson, which in turn would give incentive to newer development in that area (which uptown definitely can use)

  • In reply to chicagobound:

    The Purple Line would be quite a bit faster when they get to repairing the slow zones on tracks 1 and 4. Also running it on the Red Line routing starting at Belmont would shorten trip times downtown signifigantly and relive traffic from the overcrowded loop (run Purple line trains into the 13th street incline then reverse direction for the return trip).

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm happy they are typed up, now they need to be categorized in some normalized fashion. I agree, many of the comments are aesthetic in terms of make stations brighter/safer/etc and imply a narrow focus at any given station. On the other hand some of them had common themes related to renewable energy sources, improving train speed, etc.

    I did see several discussing the removal of Lawrence in favor of keeping the stations to the North and South of it. Will less folks take the Red Line to the Aragon or Riviera if they have to walk a couple of blocks? When there are shows, that area is even more of a zoo - better to spread out the pedestrians a bit. Two blocks is not excessive.

    Another idea I thought was interesting ... in the AM, run the Purple line south and north Express between Howard/Belmont and local through the Loop. In the PM, run the Purple line north and south Express from the Mart or Chicago to Belmont and express again to Howard. Sort of mixing the way things were with some understanding that mornings are too much strain on the Brown line alone to the Loop. It would take some creativity in terms of spacing the Brown line locals far enough apart so that the Purple line wouldn't always be at a halt.

    Some of this stuff can be done now by comparing ridership data and making the decisions - or running pilot programs. CTA appears to make complicated things even more complex to the point of not doing anything innovative. Bustracker is adopting existing technology to report things, it doesn't reduce bus travel time (potentially only reduces bus passenger wait time).

  • Reading those comments makes me sad. Some of them are unbelievably personal.

    "We understand that funding is tight for the CTA and everywhere. But please save the Argyle Station. Also, many Chinese-people commute from Argyle Station to Cermak-Chinatown Station on a daily basis. These people do not understand English well and they are generally elderly. So please keep this in mind."

    "Free wireless internet of build Wifi pass into monthly pass as option at least at first to pay for it."

    "Is there anyway to connect the parking lot with the el station without having to go down the stairs and up the escalator? The garage is only a few feet from the entrance to the station."

    "At Jarvis, I like the small Indian food restaurant and hot dog shops on the east side of the tracks.

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