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CMAP PART


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  • 4 weeks later...
2 hours ago, Railguy said:

Should be interesting times with Pace restructuring, CMAP PART recommendations for a super agency and RTA's strategic plan all coming together at once

Actually, at least PART doesn't look anywhere close to even meeting is mandate to report to the legislature, yet achieve any tangible result. The Metra discussion draft does not seem feasible.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Metra Board presentation starts at 1:46:00 of the video embedded here. Notable:

  • CMAP didn't present much on Regional Rail other than downtown-centric isn't sufficient. No mention of the prior suggestions of smaller cars on the inner portion of lines, yards at short terminals, and buying freight railroad tracks, which @Jstange059 noted, and I indicated were unfeasible.
  • The presenter seemed to avoid the question about "what can we do aside from raising taxes?"
  • Each board tried to defend itself. Pace said its structure was because localities felt the were not adequately represented, while Metra said they had to deal with FRA requirements, and should be considered a model of efficiency for the in-house car rehab program. Also, several directors emphasized the conductors'  role other than as fare collectors.
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So I just realized that they released an updated version of the document on their website, released 8/11/23, which I have attached (Draft PART...). They state many different objectives on this document, including plans for TOD, Converting the old Union Station mail platform to through-running tracks, problems with the shared ownership of their lines with the freight railroads, and other items. But included in this is details of their plans to create a regional rail system, revisiting many of the ideas mentioned in the previous document but in more detail, and including some information about how they aim to fund and create this new service. 

On page 21 they start to explain regional rail, explaining their goals starting on page 23. Plans include the previously mentioned inner/outer suburban service with the inner suburban(ISS) getting 20 minute service and implementing fare changes to improve connections and affordability. Outer suburban services(OSS) will be faster and have more regular, or "clockface" schedules (probably about every 60 mins or something similar). There would be a transfer station between the edge of the ISS with the OSS. Additionally they state that due to the additional vehicle miles that will be seen by the ISS, they will need to introduce "new, lightweight and scalable self-propelled multiple-unit rolling stock" for cost effectiveness. They say the rolling stock may resemble that of eBART, Capital Metrorail in Austin, TEXRail, or the River Line in New Jersey. They state later that this new rolling stock will be low floor, twice as fast as conventional diesel trains and consume 65% less fuel per mile, enabling more scalable and frequent service, faster boarding, and better ADA compliance. They also state that with recent improvements in zero-emission trains and federal support for low emission rolling stock, will improve the fundability for a fleet modernization capital program with minimal local funding.They do also add in that a transition to the new rolling stock will take several years as the rolling stock still has remaining useful life Additionally, the regional rail improvements will also to help establish an express service to Ohare via NCS and provide service to many of the disadvantaged communities that live along the line. 

They state that running this ISS/OSS system will cost net 290M per year for the entire system, based on the current rolling stock, though they state newer rolling stock may reduce this cost. 

On the metra strategic plan 2023 document, which I have also attached (MetraStrategicPlan...), it seems that they are going to start a pilot project on the Metra electric and Rock Island lines, as these lines are fully owned and operated by Metra. I suspect that with Metra's, if I recall correctly, ongoing efforts to obtain dispatch rights on the MD lines, along with their aims at creating express service to ORD and serving many of the underserved communities that lay between, they aim to implement this new regional style service on these lines next. 

1027283684_DraftPARTrecommendations-Regionalrail20230811.pdf MetraStrategicPlan2023-27_DS-LR_0.pdf

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The main reasons this is unfeasible:

  • Subject to what COVID did to ridership, the heavy traffic is essentially from what was Zone E, about 20 miles into downtown. Obviously they think the ME (which has hardly any ridership on the South Chicago and Blue Island trains) and the RI  are the way to go. Note that they don't recommend any changes to the ME. Lines such as the UP-N and Milw-N have short trains, but does anyone think yards can be built in Winnetka and Deerfield? Glenview made a big stink about a freight siding to allow high speed passenger rail on the Milw-N. Burlington had an express service on which the IC express pattern was based.
  • Buying out the freight railroads is a joke. They used Boston as an example. Boston may be The Hub City, but is not a freight hub; Chicago is. Consider:
    • How much grief Metra unnecessarily put itself through to take over the UP employees, and it still has not figured out who is responsible for yards and stations, and even though it paid for rebuilding portions of the UP-N, it is NOT taking ownership of the tracks. 
    • Metra protests of the CP-KCS merger to no avail, even though Metra owns the Mill`-W tracks. CP also made a stink about the Tollway building the O"Hare Bypass over its yard,
    • CN has not been cooperative with Metra (or anyone else), even though Metra rebuilt the Wisconsin Central (NCS).
  • There is supposedly a fiscal cliff, and CMAP is suggesting another $290 million/year in expenditures?
  • As I noted above, CMAP didn't have the guts to present any of this at the Metra Board meeting.

There may be something to the governance reform package, but after 15 years of the General Assembly twisting reform proposals into meaninglessness, I'm not counting on any. Board members' comments at the Pace and Metra meetings indicate they aren't aboard.

If you want me to elaborate further let me know.

 

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While your concerns are very possibly all true, I just personally prefer to not count them out before they even have a chance to succeed. If you say the plans are impossible before they even have a chance to attempt implementation, there will be no chance of a success.
 

Also, this is just one of like 10+ documents on their website, most of the other documents are also yet to be discussed, discussing all of them in a single meeting would go FAR beyond the allowable meeting length, so I’d say that the lack of discussion of this specific document means hardly anything. Eventually this document will get it’s time for discussion, but this time it not yet. 

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1 hour ago, Jstange059 said:

While your concerns are very possibly all true, I just personally prefer to not count them out before they even have a chance to succeed. If you say the plans are impossible before they even have a chance to attempt implementation, there will be no chance of a success.
 

Also, this is just one of like 10+ documents on their website, most of the other documents are also yet to be discussed, discussing all of them in a single meeting would go FAR beyond the allowable meeting length, so I’d say that the lack of discussion of this specific document means hardly anything. Eventually this document will get it’s time for discussion, but this time it not yet. 

  • History (at least 20 years of it) shows that the only thing that comes of any of this is another tax increase--not reform.
  • While PART is a multi-document, one would think that they would present a radical restructuring of Metra to the Metra Board.
  • You seem to believe in consultants on a basis of faith. These ignore the facts on the ground, and seem to think that the least successful operation--the ME--should be extended system-wide.

You don't discuss how to deal with obvious problems such as relationships with freight railroads and yards in Winnetka. Maybe CMAP will discuss that among the myriad documents, but I doubt it. And do they even touch restructuring CTA service?

.

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I’m not trying to make any argument on feasibility or anything. I’m just wanted to summarize and share plans being created, whether they come true or not. Only time will tell what will come of this. 
 

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert here. I’m not even from Chicago, I’m a St. Louis resident currently in college in Virginia, but planning to move to Chicago upon graduation. I won’t pretend I know much about Metra’s operation, I just want to share news about their ambitions

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13 hours ago, Jstange059 said:

I’m not trying to make any argument on feasibility or anything. I’m just wanted to summarize and share plans being created, whether they come true or not. Only time will tell what will come of this.

That's fine, but your

18 hours ago, Jstange059 said:

... I just personally prefer to not count them out before they even have a chance to succeed. If you say the plans are impossible before they even have a chance to attempt implementation, there will be no chance of a success....

certainly implied otherwise. I could give you a 30-year history of lousy transit governance. And while you admit that your feet are not on the ground, neither are these consultants;. I see a point to comparing best practices, but geez, Boston? MBTA;s state of repair on its rapid transit and delivery situation with CRRC are far worse than CTA;s.

I'm not an expert, either, but know that these consultants are headed up the wrong track.

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That was more of an expression of me just being optimistic for the future in general. Not trying to editorialize. If we look at things from a negative perspective from the start, that prevents anything good from coming. The current “doomerism” that is so prevalent among issues along climate change often can prevent us from actually taking action to prevent climate change. I just want to prevent a similar climate in transit advocacy. 

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3 hours ago, Jstange059 said:

If we look at things from a negative perspective from the start, that prevents anything good from coming. The current “doomerism” that is so prevalent among issues along climate change often can prevent us from actually taking action to prevent climate change. I just want to prevent a similar climate in transit advocacy. 

Which is actually the problem I have with "transit advocacy." I agree some things are possible, especially on the climate change front. Electric buses are becoming more available. Although I have my doubts, I conceded that @OneofthewillsNW had his point about hydrogen buses. On the other hand, the transition plans have delayed the "urgently needed" Wheeling garage by at least 3 years (the Board originally said that an opening date of 2023 was too slow; now we are in???...2023).

Your original post  included such snippets as:

On 7/18/2023 at 10:30 PM, Jstange059 said:

... but a lot of exciting news is contained inside. 

...

It will have new lighter train cars, likely to be something similar to a Stadler FLIRT. And yes, that means that metra is planning on running something other than an EMD! What a surprise. 

....

So yeah, it seems that exciting things are ahead for Metra. ...

 

Admittedly, I edited and added emphasis, but the link to the original is there. As I noted above, the Metra Board had not adopted this, and the only indications from Metra sources were statements about battery locomotives, a solicitation for battery electric trainsets, apparently for the RID, and rebuilding some inner city ME stations that were obsolete at least 50 years ago. Maybe the last is a nod to the "regional rail" concept, but it generally seems to me that CMAP was coming up with some kind of consultant's report to meet a legislative deadline. While the governance and fare coordination pieces need legislative changes, action around 2008 shows that the politicians messed it up, and the discussions at the recent Pace and Metra meeting indicate that they are not willing to give up their turf. But we sure don't want the Illinois.General Assembly to run a railroad. If you lived in Chicago, you would know that, as well as the physical constraints on the system. Apparently, these consultants don't either.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

For those transit activists who thought this was going to be other than a tax hike...nothing has changed. Cf. Director Soto's remarks at the Pace Board meeting to the effect of 'funding first, funding first...Governance is a long process..No need to blow everything up." Click for yourself, but you'll get the drift.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The discussion at the Oct. Pace Board hearing starting about here was there was such a lack of consensus that after argument, it was decided to call the report "options" rather than "recommendations." Director Schielke talked about the politicking in the process.

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