Rahm Emanuel on public transit

I found the following on Rahm Emanuel’s website.


Improve Public Transportation Options
Public transit offers safe and efficient transportation options that decrease household costs and improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to jobs and services in the neighborhood and region. It is also a key ingredient to reducing the crippling congestion that costs the Chicago region more than $7 billion each year. Rahm will prioritize and expedite transit-friendly developments, expand the Red Line south and revitalize its northside stations, pursue development of Bus Rapid Transit, fight for increased federal funding and a fix to the state transit funding formula, and think creatively about other funding opportunities.

Establish a clear transit-friendly development policy to streamline approvals and prioritize investments
Every transit station attracts riders and development potential, but the City has not fully integrated the goal of improving rail lines and stations into its capital and economic development strategies. Rahm will issue an executive order that establishes clear and consistent principles for transit oriented development – expedited permitting, set-aside of city-owned property to expand car sharing and bike parking, assistance with land assembly, expanded use of tax credits and loan guarantees, and identification of instances where the City will jointly invest with CTA to improve the transit system. The order will recognize the clear link between housing and transportation costs in keeping neighborhoods affordable, and will evaluate improvements on their ability to reduce the combined cost of housing and transportation for Chicago residents. This policy will help to focus all investment – including in Chicago’s TIF districts – around developments that integrate station upgrades with mixed-use developments.

Expand and revitalize the Red Line
The Red Line is the backbone of Chicago’s rail transit system for about half the city, carrying nearly 250,000 riders each workday and accounting for 40% of all CTA rail trips. Rahm’s first transit priority will be a complete overhaul of the Red Line: rebuilding deteriorating tracks south to 95th Street, extending the line south to 130th and renovating and modernizing Red Line stations and track north of Belmont.

This major infrastructure investment will require active and sustained lobbying on the federal and state level for funding, as well as creative use of public-private partnerships around each new station. Rahm will make it a major priority of his administration – just as he did for the Brown line rehab – knowing that this project will not just improve Chicago’s transit system, but will also create 4000 good-paying construction jobs, reduce congestion, jumpstart economic development and improve Chicago’s competitiveness. He is committed to securing all necessary federal sign-offs to have all three phases of the project underway in the first year of his administration. Once federal approvals are in place, he will expedite the construction to complete the south side track improvements and station expansions within four years, and complete all north side improvements within seven years.

The south section track repair will improve a ten-mile stretch of track
from 18th to 95th Street and eliminate slow zones. As existing track is
repaired, the Red Line extension will add four new station south of 95th
at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th Streets, extending the line an
additional 5.5 miles. The extension will provide substantial relief at
95th – the CTA’s busiest station outside of downtown – and significantly
improve bus and rail connections and overall service in an area that is
heavily dependent upon affordable transit as an essential service.
Together, the southern improvements and extensions accomplish several
important economic development objectives including improving commute
times for far south residents to downtown, establishing convenient bus
links to growing far south employment centers and creating regional
industrial and commercial development opportunities in and near the new

The Red and Purple Line modernization north of Belmont
will repair and improve the 100 year-old transit corridor to eliminate
slow zones, improve accessibility for people with disabilities, speed
travel times and expand transit options. Improvement of the line is
essential to the livability and affordability of the densely populated
neighborhoods it serves, and provides a tremendous opportunity to fully
realize the economic and environmental benefits of transit oriented

The project will require resources from governments
at all levels to rebuild and extend the critical infrastructure matched
by private investments to create jobs and development in and near
transit stations. The project can be expedited, dollars can be leveraged
and costs reduced by a strategy that forms a strong partnership between
CTA and the City to coordinate planning and investment, maximize state
and federal support and attract private investments and job creation.
Rahm will start by consolidating project planning and establishing a
clear transit oriented development policy to streamline development and
prioritize investments.

Pursue Bus Rapid Transit

Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cost-effective strategy employed around the
world to expand transit service without having to build costly rail
lines. True BRT combines dedicated rights of way, pre-paid boarding
signal preemption at intersections and fewer stops to produce a low
cost, highly impactful transit service. Rahm will work with the CTA and
the Federal Transit Administration to explore where BRT makes the most
sense in Chicago and add this service to the arsenal of transit options
currently available to all Chicagoans, with a goal of using BRT to
connect the City’s rail lines and neighborhoods.

Coordinate planning and project delivery
City departments and sister agencies plan projects in isolation they
miss opportunities to reduce cost, attract outside resources and reduce
the disruption to Chicago residents and businesses that often comes with
extended construction projects. Rahm will improve efficiency and cut
cost by establishing a legacy investment management center to plan,
coordinate and oversee all City infrastructure projects, including the
Red Line expansion. He will direct all departments to work with CTA to
identify opportunities to coordinate resources, design tasks, purchasing
power and construction activities to deliver the Red Line and other big
projects under budget and ahead of schedule.

Rahm will also
strengthen the existing planning ties with relevant regional entities,
most notably the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Regional
Transportation Authority, the Toll Highway Authority and IDOT district
one. Rahm recognizes and appreciates the importance of regional
connectivity and coordination in transportation planning and, as mayor,
will work to insure all investments are maximized to reach their full

Fight for Chicago’s fair share of transportation funding
streets and affordable public transit are critical to Chicago’s and the
State’s economic and environmental well being, but Illinois and the
federal government don’t pay their fair share. The inequity in
transportation funding reflects a lack of adequate state support to the
metropolitan area and Chicago transit in particular. Rahm will fight for
a fair share for every neighborhood. As importantly, the current
transit governance and funding structure disregards the interdependence
of the public transportation system and discourages cooperation and the
smartest investments.

These structural and financial deficiencies
impede innovations that give people options other than driving in
frustrating congestion. Rahm will actively lobby to expand state and
federal funding, advocate for reform of the State funding formula to
ensure adequate resources for critical services, and demand better
planning and coordination by CTA, Metra and Pace to enhance customer
convenience and increase ridership.

Explore creative funding opportunities

will task the incoming transportation leadership team to think
creatively about funding opportunities to get stations built and service
expanded. He will work with the CTA to use more effective strategies
like ground leases, air rights, co-development of transit stations,
public-private partnerships on new BRT routes, naming rights and
increased advertising to attract outside investment.


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  • Rahm Emanuel rides a clean-burning hot dog cycle around town in "Trahm." Transportation of the future? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbjjTCZNsHg

  • He is going to win!!! With Oprah in your corner, well that is a win for sure. Thanks for posting the video.

  • Here, I would say that you should have exercised a bit of editorial judgment, and changed the "Rahm will" into "Rahm says he will."

    Also, as noted a month ago, Rahm did blow the lid off the south Red Line (at least prior) fiasco. Maybe Rahm should say that HE WILL fix transit governance in this area. However, we know that HE WON'T.

  • "Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cost-effective strategy employed around the
    world to expand transit service without having to build costly rail
    lines. True BRT combines dedicated rights of way, pre-paid boarding
    signal preemption at intersections and fewer stops to produce a low
    cost, highly impactful transit service."

    Sounds good, but simply isn't true. Check the math before regurgitating the BRT propaganda.

    When BRT is built to the "gold standard" that BRT advocates suggest is necessary, cost approaches the same as that for rail while at the same time costing 7X more to operate. Operating funds are usually the deal killer and cause of periodic transit funding crisis. Why invest on a broad scale in a mode that is exponentially more costly to operate, lacks the capacity of rail, is adversely impacted by weather and street traffic (unlike rail), etc? Signal preemption? C'mon. That only works up to a minimal level of service. Beyond that, signal priority effectiveness erodes rapidly. Just think about our road network - it's a grid that has many benefits. Those benefits, however, do not include running "fast fancy busses" at grade across intersections at the end of each block, not to mention curb cuts for businesses, drive-throughs, etc.

    How much does a BRT system cost that will actually work in Chicago?

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