"Amateur's" ideas for rerouting some Loop L trains might actually reduce delays

Over the years, there have been a number of suggested reroutes of L train traffic around the famous Loop. The Chicago Reader’s comprehensive story on “How to Fix the El” readily comes to mind.

Now comes another interesting concept from a “regular guy” – that is, he doesn’t call himself a transit expert. But his thoughts are worth consideration and review.

As CBS Chicago reports, the centerpiece of his plan is simple: “Allow the Orange Line and the Brown Line to merge together, and do a straight shot all the way from Kimball down to Midway,” said James Pauly.

More from that report:

The surviving line, which he would call the Brown Line, would run only on the Lake and Wabash legs of the Loop. By contrast, he would reroute the Green Line so that its trains would only use the Wells and Van Buren legs of the Loop.

Pauly also would re-route the Pink and Purple Lines, so each operates in opposite directions around the Loop during the morning and afternoon rush periods.

The Purple Line would run counter-clockwise in the morning and clockwise in the afternoon. The Pink Line would do the opposite.

Some of this stuff is not new. But putting it all together like this might work. Pauly spoke with a CTA official about this, but didn’t get any favorable response.

What do you think?

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  • You are right; that isn't new, and still shows up on the "highly conceptual" Circle Line plan on chicago-l.org.*

    You also have reports of Brownage trains, i.e. due to lack of yard capacity at Kimball, some 700 (run number) trains start and end at Midway, but go to and from Kimball.

    At the time, I thought that component of the Circle Line plan made sense, given that it also proposed combining the now Pink with Brown. Looking at the then passenger counts, that would have balanced.

    Except (at least as others have pointed out, especially on Chicagobus.com):

    --Pauly wants to redo all the lines. By contrast, the Circle Line plan would put the two heaviest lines on the Loop (Brownage) on Wells and Van Buren only, requiring a lot of transferring passengers somewhere outside the Loop.

    --If you swap the lines as Pauly suggests, besides what it would do to operations at Tower 18,** the Green Line riders will gripe, and they certainly have before, about the things noted above. At least going north, they could transfer to the Red Line at Roosevelt.

    --Cuts off access to the transfer point at Clark and Lake for whatever line he makes the Van Buren-Wells one. At a minimum, Library would have to be made the transfer point to the Blue Line subway. Under the current setup, at least all Loop trains stop at Clark and Lake.

    --Whatever I mused about adding Pink, Brown is still heavier than Orange. Of course that doesn't deter the current Blue routing, but you are going to get complaints about service being degraded on the Brown, similar to the guy in the Reader's point that service on the North Red is degraded by having to run all trains through.

    *Available via the search function on his site, but apparently no longer linked. I might have used that plan as a straw man, but as indicated, Pauly's plan has some of the same inherent problems.

    **Now, at least the Green Line trains go straight through.

  • Stupid ideas!
    This makes it more difficult for people to transfer from one line to another.
    The Wells & Van Buren sides have fewer businesses & thus fewer people use those stations.
    Plus the Brown Line has about twice the riders of the Orange Line & when there is unbalanced use like that, it makes distribution of equipment a mess. You have too many empty trains on the SW Side while too few overcrowded ones on the North & NW Sides.
    That's why the Howard Line was connected to the Dan Ryan & the Lake St was connected to the South Side Main Line. The previous setup, was out of whack.

    No, the Straight Dope Chicago's idea for running Purple Expresses all day through the subway to flip back south of Roosevelt makes far more sense.

    Pauly needs to go away & Channel 2 needs to stop listening to fools who can't read the CTA's ridership reports.

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