Claypool hopes for "full-blown" bus rapid transit project on Western Ave.

Here’s the last installment of my interview with CTA President Forrest Claypool. View the other two recaps here and here.

A few of my readers have asked about better service coordination with the CTA’s RTA partners, Metra rail and Pace bus systems. Claypool said he has a good relationship with RTA Chairman John Gates, and that he’s “sympathetic to the needs of CTA and engaging across agencies to spur cooperation.”

But Claypool quickly veered off that topic to lament the “long-standing structural inequities driven by decades of politics that are inherent at the CTA.”

“We are delivering lion’s share of service but get less than other agencies. We provide 82 percent of rides and get 48% of transportation. And we have 72 percent of capital needs in region and get only 58% of capital repair dollars,” Claypool said. “We carry a heavy load of passenger. These are matters of fact – not said in sense of rivalry. The CTA is the economic driver for the area and needs to be better funded.” And that was all he said about the RTA.

On expanding bus rapid transit program, Claypool insisted we needed to make sure the BRT lines we’re experimenting with now will actually work. But he is hopeful that what the CTA learns from what Claypool call “BRT light on Jeffrey will inform the future:

“True full-blown BRT could happen on Western. It offers the best opportunity and connects all our rail station. That’s the beauty of it. It would be like the Circle Line – all those stations will be connected more cheaply. And, if done properly, it should enhance the residential and commercial property values.”

Finally, Claypool said he didn’t have the answer on which Red-Purple Line modernization plan would be best. But he did promise to speed up the process:

“I want to compress the process. We can’t afford a two-year environmental study process. The Red Line is too important. We have to find way to pay for it and find ways to compress the schedule.”

I asked him about the Chicago Reader’s ideas on modernization. “I read the Reader piece with interest. Their ideas were complex but fascinating. Actually, what’s really great about that story is it shows just how incredibly complex the transit business is. It’s not that simple to just put more trains into service.”

Personally, I was a bit disappointed that on the day of the interview, Claypool’s schedule was changed, and thus I only got 30 minutes with him, instead of the promised hour. There was really no time to press on some issues.


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  • In short, he wants to be part of the problem, not the solution, His "veered off" is nothing different than what Kruesi said in 2005. The 82% of the rides line is undoubtedly the same as Kruesi's, which means unlinked trips. Metra provides one ride from University Park; a CTA rider probably takes 3 from Addison and Central to Roosevelt and State (counting cross platform transfers and the like).

    The political inequity is not what he says, but that he is part of the cabal to keep CTA as a "part of the mayor's cabinet" instead of fostering a regional system that is efficient and serves the people.

    So, if he, like Brown and Kruesi, thinks that the CTA "needs to be better funded" message can be taken to the suburbanites he expects to fund CTA, by raising their taxes without making any effort to rationalize transit in this area, forget it.

    The only thing I find that indicates that he might be taking the reins on something is that he wants to compress the Red Line study phase. Of course, the other studies have gone on 6 years (the first screen Circle Line one was in May 2006)--with nothing tangible accomplished so far.

    But, if anyone is going to tell me anything other than he is a north side political hack totally unqualified to run a transit system--forget that too.

  • In reply to jack:

    Being a Star Trek Diplomat - I wanted to give him the benefit of doubt; however I'm afraid his words/actions seem to bear out what you say jack. So Sad

    Well, on we go now to The Spanish Inquisition (well earned).

    Thanks for trying Kevin.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I should join Mike in saying Thanks for trying, Kevin.

    I suppose the Mike also realizes that if self-serving Sandoval could require anything of Claypool, it won't come to anything.

  • In reply to jack:

    That's why I'm contacting Soto, Garrett, and Franks (and don't forget the FTA).

  • Claypool said he has a good relationship with RTA Chairman John Gates, and that he’s “sympathetic to the needs of CTA and engaging across agencies to spur cooperation.”

    I am working right now on having Sen. Sandoval and Rep. Soto require Pres. Claypool and Exec. Dir. Clifford to attend the next South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study meeting (tentatively scheduled for September), to explain their respective Agencies roles - and the involved Long-Term Capital and Operating Economics:

  • As much as I'd love to have the 49X back, I think not having to worry about viaducts falling down is a more pressing concern.

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