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mahatta

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  1. Of course there's no demand for a train that only comes once an hour most of the day. If the rest of the L adhered to the Metra schedule you'd see similarly pathetic ridership numbers. The benefits of the gray line are more or less the same as the benefits of the red line extension, and the cost is substantially less.
  2. Illinois only has high property taxes because of its extremely low income tax, and its income tax is only extremely low because it's a flat tax. New York's top marginal income tax bracket is 8.82%. California's is 13.3%. Taxing the ultra-wealthy is by far the easiest way to raise revenue, but Illinois refuses to do this and has to make up the difference via property tax, sales tax, and not paying its bills. Illinois actually has one of the smallest state governments per capita in the country: 205 state employees per 10k population (source: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/public-workforce-salaries/states-most-government-workers-public-employees-by-job-type.html). The smallest state government is Michigan's (184 employees per 10k population), the largest is Wyoming's (446). New York is number three, at 316, and California is towards the middle at 228. The pension thing is only a crisis, as opposed to a serious but surmountable problem, because Illinois is so low tax.
  3. First tranche of 7000s delivered October 2020, 10 cars per month delivered thereafter. Assuming the gray line will require 50 cars (same as the pink line), the CTA would have enough to commence full operations February 2021. That's still not 2026. The rest of your complaints seem to evince a worldview that's fundamentally opposed to the very concept of expanding rapid transit. The red line extension will cost more up front than turning the MED into an L line. This has been credibly demonstrated. If your concern is upfront cost, the gray line is a better solution. If your concern is exclusively the CTA's operating budget, then yes, it makes more sense to spend $1 billion more upfront to build the red line extension. But there's no reason to focus myopically on operating budget. The gray line costs less up front, takes less time, and serves more of the city. In any event, Cambridge Systematics estimated the gold line would cost $60 million per year to operate. So maybe in ten to fifteen years the gray line will have cost more money to operate than it would have cost to extend the red line (after taking into account additional revenue from converts from Metra to the CTA, money saved eliminating bus lines, and the red line extension's own operating costs), but by that logic the CTA should have never built the orange line either. Maybe you would actually agree that the CTA shouldn't have built the orange line, but that's a pretty eccentric stance and well outside of the mainstream of Chicago politics. Expanding a transit network adds to that network's operating costs. That's normal and fine. I can have it both ways, easily. The gray line's primary purpose is to extend the L past 95th, which is a goal the city has already committed itself too. It does this more efficiently than the red line extension. Unlike the red line extension, however, it has additional benefits for people who live north of 95th. Yes, I want all state and local taxes increased (and a proportional income tax implemented). The state is undertaxed, which is why it's broke. But if your concern is the taxpayers' dollars, there's no reason for you to be supporting the more expensive red line extension over the less expensive gray line conversion. Even if Illinois and Chicagoland don't raise taxes a penny, the gray line still makes more financial sense than the red line extension. Edit: Even assuming no revenue connection to the red/green/orange lines and the Loop elevated at Roosevelt (which, again, would be trivial to construct), how long does it take to access the red line from Millennium Station via the pedway? Four minutes? This is another non-issue.
  4. Last I checked, the 7000s were supposed to start arriving in 2020, not 2026. How many overpasses can you build for a billion dollars? Hundreds? How many are needed? Three or four? This doesn't seem like a serious complaint. The green line is barely 1000 feet from the MED south of the Loop. Connecting the two would cost in the tens of millions of dollars, assuming a cost of about $250 million per mile of elevated track. Non-issue. The proposal relieves bus congestion at 95th because everyone who lives closer to an MED stop than to 95th will simply get on the gray line, or a bus to the closest gray line stop, instead of a bus to 95th. It may not alleviate bus congestion to the same extent as extending the red line, but the 95th station is adding capacity as we speak. The legislature should stick the burden of the additional operating costs on the CTA because it's a more efficient way of providing L service south of 95th than extending the red line would be. Adding lines of service always adds additional operating costs. If the ridership is high enough, the operating costs become worth it. The gray line will be guaranteed to have more ridership than the pink line (the MED, with its lackadaisical headways, already matches the pink line), and could rival the orange line - are you suggesting the CTA eliminate those lines to save on their operating costs? Don't be preposterous. The advantages of the gray line are numerous: it's cheaper to build than the red line extension, it's quicker to build, it's less reliant on the largess of the Trump administration, it'll serve neighborhoods north of 95th that the red line extension won't touch. The disadvantages, as far as I can tell, start and end with the notion that operating costs would be higher than they would be on the newly-expanded red line. Yeah, they would be. Who cares? If the CTA thinks the pink line is worth its operating costs, which it clearly does, why are the operating costs of the gray line a dealbreaker? And the gray line, unlike the red line extension, allows for the complete elimination of various redundant bus routes along Lake Shore Drive.
  5. I'm not Payne, I can't speak to why he chose to hinge his argument on economic development in Chatham. The cheapest way to do anything is BRT. The city has decided BRT isn't sufficient, and that the far south side needs an L line. Maybe that's the wrong decision on the merits, but scaling back the red line extension to BRT isn't going to fly politically. The choice is to either expand the red line, or to convert the MED into an L line. The latter is much cheaper and quicker to implement. Do you have any actual arguments as to why the red line extension is better, on the merits of the policy, than turning the MED into an L line? Nothing you've said so far makes sense as a criticism of the gray line proposal as opposed to the red line extension. You're perfectly within your rights to oppose both the gray line and the red line extension, but if you want to argue that the red line extension is better public policy you're going to have to give actual reasons.
  6. Yes, I understand that, which is why I said "which would cover about half of the MED track length." So double the figure. Add a couple hundred million to it for good measure. It's still a lot cheaper than the red line extension. I never disclaimed the South Chicago branch, I simply said it was peripheral to the proposal, which it is. Giving Hyde Park more frequent offpeak service is a nice perk, but the main draw of the gray line is that it lets the L reach south of 95th for a fraction of the cost of the red line extension. Benefits north of 95th are just gravy, they're not the point of the proposal. Right now the city has decided it needs to extend the L south of 95th. It estimates the red line extension will cost $2 billion. Converting the MED to rapid transit service would cost much less, be a lot quicker, and have benefits further up the track. So long as we're talking about extending the L past 95th, the gray line is indeed a no-brainer.
  7. There is no need to double level MED right of way except where necessary to avoid freight trackage. Laying third rail would seem the optimal proposal to me, since using L cars instead of commuter rail rolling stock would drastically reduce operating costs. The gold line proposal, which would cover about half of the MED track length, was estimated to cost about $350 million: http://www.rtams.org/reportLibrary/2282.pdf People have been talking about this for years. It's a good idea. The problem is getting Metra to surrender the line to the CTA, which is going to require action at the level of the state government. In the past that's seemed like an insurmountable obstacle, but it's not any more insurmountable than getting the Trump administration to fork over $1 billion for a few red line stops. The problem with the proposal is not that it's too expensive or too difficult to engineer, since it's neither of those things - certainly not compared to the red line extension, which is the alternative.
  8. The entire point of the proposal is that the MED wouldn't be a Metra line anymore, and so would not use the same tracks as Metra trains. Elevating those sections of track that cross freight lines is not a significant barrier to the proposal. What exactly is the source of your opposition to a project that every independent transit analyst thinks is a no-brainer?
  9. I've already addressed this point: keeping the MED in FRA compliance makes no sense to me, since freight trains don't actually use it. I differ from Payne in this respect. The South Chicago branch of the MED is peripheral to the discussion, and it wouldn't cost anywhere near $1 billion to grade separate some track on 71st. It's plainly not preposterous at all: serious transit analysts have been saying it's the most promising L expansion project available for years. What's preposterous is spending $2 billion on a couple miles of new track that's adjacent to track that Metra is squatting on and underutilizing.
  10. It'll be easier to find <$1 billion for MED conversion than >$2 billion for red line extension. If you're going to make an argument on cost, that's an argument for the gray line, not an argument against it. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-metra-electric-discussions-20160623-story.html https://www.modernmetraelectric.org/press.html https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/cta-metra-red-line-extension-electric-line-conversion/Content?oid=40560668
  11. Cost of converting commuter rail to rapid transit runs about $27 million per mile, according to Daniel Kay Hertz: https://danielkayhertz.com/2015/05/10/rail-transit-options-in-chicago/ Assuming we convert the entire 31-mile MED, that's about $800 million. If we ballpark daily ridership to be around 30-35k, comparable to the pink line, that means the line will be using about 50 cars. Let's say they're all-new 7000s (even though there's no need for them to be, since the CTA will have plenty of older cars floating around once the 7000s start getting delivered) - that's what, $100 million? Probably less, given the contract options. I'm just not seeing how this winds up costing "way more than $2 billion." So best estimates put converting the entire MED into an L line at under half the price of adding a couple miles of new track to the red line.
  12. Taking the Electric District line out of the hands of Metra isn't imposing an unfunded mandate on Metra. It's taking an unfunded mandate out of Metra's hands, if anything, since Metra loses money on the MED. It's imposing a mandate on the CTA to run that service instead. But we're already considering imposing a mandate on the CTA, the state, and the city in the form of the $2 billion budget for the red line extension, which could be accomplished for cheaper by renovating the MED into an L line. The state is broke, which is all the more reason that the gray line makes more sense than the red line extension. The passenger demand to justify the extension of the L below 95th street is the entire rationale for the red line extension. No additional rationale is needed to justify why turning the MED into an L line, with rapid transit headways and rapid transit prices, would serve to meet that demand just as effectively as extending the red line. Why wouldn't it? The red line extension has been stewed over for a lot longer than this, as I'm sure you're aware. And there've been plenty of indications that people are taking the gray line more seriously than they have in the recent past - and my guess is we're going to see a lot more people taking it seriously when it becomes apparent that the Trump administration has no intention of funding the red line extension that Rahm just promised south side voters.
  13. Does my posting style resemble that of whoever it is you're talking about or something? I doubt it. There's no need for Metra to receive revenues from the CTA for the gray line (or gold line, or whatever) to work. The CTA and Metra are both controlled by the state, and if the state wants to reassign the Electric District from Metra to the CTA it has that power. The question is: should it? If there's any sort of argument that it shouldn't I'm all ears. Metra's desires aren't really relevant. The reason for the extension is to move the bus to L transfer points south of 95th. The gray line would provide L transfer points south of 95th. There is no reason any commuter would insist on traveling to the 95th red line stop instead of a closer gray line stop. People don't care what color the line is so long as it goes where they want to go (in this case: downtown). Current red line riders from 95th to 63rd aren't going to switch to the gray line (nor is there any reason to want them to), but there are plenty of residents of the lake shore (including, notably, in Hyde Park) who would be well served by the gray line for whom the red line is irrelevant and the red line extension even more so. We're currently discussing a $2 billion red line extension, the lion's share of the costs of which the city and the state will have to shoulder in the absence of a partner at the federal level. Seems to me that everyone involved has a very strong incentive to accomplish the goal of L extension south of 95th for a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time via reassignment of the Metra Electric to the CTA.
  14. To me none of those questions seem as daunting as "where do we find $2 billion for the red line extension given the transit preferences of the present administration?" The gray line will cost money and require political wrangling (and rationalization of south side bus lines), but no estimate puts the total cost at anything approaching $2 billion, and Metra loses money on this line anyway and should be amenable to the CTA taking it off their hands. Payne's proposal calls for the maintenance of commuter rail rolling stock on the gray line, but I personally don't see the point of this. Just turn the whole thing into a rapid transit line, running standard subway cars. Build a (non-revenue) connection to the green line somewhere around Roosevelt or McCormick Place with the $2 billion we're saving. Freight trains don't run on the Electric District anyway, so there's no need to maintain its current freight-friendly classification. This might cause trouble for the South Shore Line, which wouldn't be able to continue downtown, but passengers can simply transfer to the gray line at 115th or wherever in the same way yellow line and purple line passengers transfer to the red line at Howard. The city needs to extend the L south of 95th. There are two possible ways of doing this: spend $2 billion on a red line extension to 130th, or spend significantly less to convert the MED into an L line. The logistical challenges posed by the gray line are nothing compared to the logistical challenges of convincing the Trump administration to give Chicago a billion dollars and change in transit funding.
  15. You can shift the existing high ridership bus passengers riding to 95th to catch the red line to the gray line and accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the price, can't you? If the point is to get people on rail as quickly as possible what does it matter if they board a red line train at 115th or a gray line train a few blocks east? What does it matter if they board a red line train at 130th or a gray line train a few blocks west? The difference between the two solutions is marginal for people who currently live south of 95th. The difference is that the gray line is a lot cheaper, can be online a lot quicker, and has additional benefits for people who live north of 95th that the red line extension doesn't. I don't think anyone is advocating a super CTA. What people are advocating is giving one specific Metra line to the CTA and running it as a rapid transit line instead of, or in addition to, a commuter rail line.
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