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Thu, Jan 24, 2013
2 p.m.

Added Jan 22 2013

When: Thursday, January 24th at 2 p.m.
Where: First Baptist Congregational Church, 1613 W. Washington Blvd.

TOPIC: CTA Proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for Western and Ashland Avenues

Ashland: 9500 S. to 4000 N.
Western: 7900 S. to 5300 N.

Those interested in traffic flow and curbside parking on Ashland Ave. and Western Ave. are STRONGLY URGED to attend. CTA’s proposal to reconfigure these streets may remove curbside parking, for one side of the entire stretch of the addresses above, if not all parking. Since the CTA proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems for Ashland Ave. and Western Ave. would HISTORICALLY RECONFIGURE these streets and HISTORICALLY IMPACT businesses, residents and neighborhoods, everyone’s attendance on January 24 is very important.

The “least-impact” of the BRT proposals - - which would be two dedicated bus lanes on Ashland Ave. and Western Ave. - - would ELIMINATE curbside parking for employees and customers on one side of both Ashland Ave. and Western Ave. for the entire stretch of the addresses above. Preliminary cost estimates for the BRT systems are $150 million per street totaling $300 million.


Hosts: Ashland Avenue-Western Avenue Coalition

Near West Side CDC * Near West Side Chamber of Commerce * Randolph/Fulton Market Assn. * West Central Assn. * West Town Chamber of Commerce

RSVP for our January 24th meeting by contacting Mike Quinlan at Near West Side Chamber of Commerce (p: 312-733-2280 or e: or contact Mike for information.

more info:

  • Skylar Moran architect · socialist · pescatarian · cyclist

    Am I missing something? Nowhere in any of the four proposals is it suggested that "all parking" would be eliminated. Anyone who has ridden the #9 or #49 routes for any distance knows how badly this is needed (especially since the #9X & #49X service was discontinued). Wouldn't the customers & employees of nearby businesses benefit from this improvement? Surely no one is afraid to have the business of "the sort of people who would ride the bus."

  • Bob Gallo State Director, AARP Illinois

    Thanks for sharing this. I'm in favor of BRT and before everyone jumps to conclusions about what it's going to do to harm business or residents how about learning what the positive outcomes might be? Businesses benefit from efficient, reliable and modern transit, employees find faster and more affordable ways to get to work vs driving on congested roads with limited and expensive parking. Underserved communities are provided much needed access to more reliable and efficient transportation and one connects them to different parts of the city via the L system. Older individuals who cannot or no longer drive gain new access to the same things others enjoy and students will benefit as well. The sky is not falling here folks, this is what World Class cities do to give themselves a competitive advantage for businesses and residents alike who want to prosper and better enjoy where they live and work.

    Bob Gallo AARP IL State Director
    Follow me on Twitter

  • I respectfully do not agree. Ashland & Western are already pretty congested to drive thru. Having a bus only & left turn only lanes will add to that congestion. Western & Ashland are already at 50% with street parking especially during the winter snow removal towing season. The bottom two plans eliminate all street parking completely. It's not ok that we lose MORE of that parking. instead of doing these construction changes why can't the 9x & 49x buses be reestablished? I'm someone who takes the buses, trains, bikes, PLUS drives. I like being able to park on western & not have to worry about my car while I'm at work. When I drive to work heading north on Ashland it currently takes me 40 mins during high traffic times. When there is no traffic it takes me 15 mins. I do not wish to add to the congestion w/ more construction & the outcome being less lanes to drive & park. Right now I'm not convinced that this will improve anything. There is nothing logical in any of the four plans. The medians were JUST completed last summer. Now more construction is going to happen to remove the medians? That doesn't make any sense to me.

  • Skylar Moran architect · socialist · pescatarian · cyclist

    @SimplyTheLady, where are you getting the idea that "all street parking" will be eliminated in any of the proposals? The bottom left proposal clearly states, "parking retained on BOTH SIDES," & the bottom right one says, "parking retained on ONE SIDE." Is there more confusion on this matter?

    Don't think about this as bus service; think about it as rapid transit, without the cost of laying rail (or digging tunnels). Ridership is already great enough to justify improvements to service, & the city must plan for growth continuously. Long-term benefits significantly outweigh any short-term hardships.

    Or think about it this way: what if it was possible for bus service to be so good, you would choose to use it over driving (& paying those rapidly growing parking fees)?

  • Skylar, Is it the same type of long term benefits w/ short term hardships that the medians brought us? I believe this is a waste of money over all. Will these addition lanes prevent transit fare hikes? Also, read the whole thing I wrote not just "all street parking."

    It isn't rapid transit if frequency of buses that come through doesn't happen. I don't like waiting 20-40 mins for a bus especially in the cold. I'm sure It is worst for elderly people. My elderly mother isnt tech savy & doesnt know how to access the app for the timings of the arrival of buses. I'm sure majority of the elderly don't and rely on the brochure timings.

    Yes, ridership is pretty high, so there are a lot of packed buses that drive right by several stops. I dont see how these additional lanes provide more room for people ON the buses. The solution to that isn't these so called rapid transit lanes but to put more buses on the roads w/ 15 min increments between them.

    I don't pay parking fees & havent paid in 10 years bc I actually live on western ave.

    When I bike down western to get home or head to a bike lane I'm constantly in some drivers blind spot. These additional bus lanes provide less safety to bikers.

    I'm open to hearing the positives but I haven't heard any yet. I don't see how these proposals are "so good." Plus, what is the guarantee that after the construction & the lanes start being used that the yr after will bring on someone else with more so called changes for improvement just like the medians?

    I'll probably see u at the meeting in a couple hrs. G'luck

  • Something came up & I'm unable to attend the meeting. Can someone please post on here what happens or is there a place to access the minutes of the meeting? I'm really sorry. I really wanted to be there.

  • Charles Tanqueray West Looper for 12 years

    I was in attendance, the whole thing seems wrong. Why Western AND Ashland? Only 8 blocks apart. Why does it seem like a pick one, pick which one you wanna lose, lanes of traffic or parking.
    The point that Chicago had express buses before, and got rid of them. Well??
    And the Cdot guy who said Chicago is expanding, uh actually per the last census, Chicago shrunk in population. I'll credit the "moderator", the Cdot person didn't seem to happy to be there, especially when he cut the moderator off and said "Can I answer that!" Maybe he missed his afternoon nap.
    A lot of factors that come into play. You can't please everyone, but why does it feel like this is a done deal already? Rahm is pushing public transportation, it's a good PR opportunity if your outside looking in. Bus lanes are great in the paper and on the news. Never mind the people they actually affect. And thanks to Alderman Burnett who sent his "representative" who attempted to string together a sentence of fragmented thoughts, then got dizzy and sat down while state rep Derrick Smith consoled him.

  • anon on near west side anon on near west side

    @Charles Tanqueray-- I was there as well--- ditto on your comments-- we never did get to the bottom of why they simply can't just re-institute the express bus routes at a far lower expense, other than the money that would fund the BRT is a "different pot of money".

  • anon on near west side anon on near west side

    Another take-away that came up at the very end of the meeting--- someone brought up about the viaducts and the bottlenecks that will occur, such as the viaduct at Lake and Western. So, during rush hour, when Western is already a congested crazy deal, you will have car traffic reduced to one lane--- regardless of which "Plan" is selected.

  • Charles Tanqueray West Looper for 12 years

    Anon- I agree, his comeback didnt sound to reassuring, "that's one of the things we will have to look at". He did say, possibly the buses could have a special transponder that might let them jump in front of the cars at the light, yet again causing worse traffic problems. It just seemed like everyone who was there was totally against it, there was the 1 lady who seemed like she was for it, but I think was alittle intimidated to talk. I just think the amount of money $150 mill average each road, (300 mill total) being spent, versus the number of people gaining from this, to the number of people losing from this is pretty lopsided. Sure A cta rider can save 47 hours a year, how many people total, oh say 1000, versus people losing time in a car, people affected 10,000. More harm than good. But as before, when Rahm wants something, you're gonna have to fight tooth and nail to stop it. No matter who it affects.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    None of the proposals included accommodation for bicycle riders. There were no bike lanes in the proposals.

  • Bob Gallo State Director, AARP Illinois

    "You can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time"

  • Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems the point of BRT IS to reduce driving traffic on Ashland and Western. If you mean to argue against the basic tenant of the proposal make sure to begin by saying I want to drive, and I want to do it on Western and Ashland. To be sure all North South driving corridors will be adversely effected if no one decides to change their mobility habits. In order for this to work, in order to woo lots of people into changing their mobility habits Chicago must offer very efficient transit systems that rival the prospect of driving. Is BRT such a system? To be perfectly honest, the jury is still out; but that is a different story.

    Respectfully, stop beating a straw man. If you think Public Transit is a waste of money fair enough. If you love Driving it's understandable. If you think that bikers and transit riders are stinky ruffians, that's your thing. If however you agree or even flirt with the basic idea that maybe Chicago should try to beat back it's drive everywhere culture and should encourage other forms of efficient transit that (fingers crossed) could spur infill development, reduce emissions, reduce obesity etc. please spare us the "just not on my block" routine.

    To Business owners worried about shifting customer patterns: adapt. It's your job. There are plenty of places where business does not suffer despite a dearth of parking. Business owners are citizens of our fair city and deserve a voice in the debate but it is not ultimately the public's responsibility to protect your way of doing business. You can confirm that with all of the VHS video stores, inline skating shops and lead paint factories if you don't believe me.

  • Brad, if that is truly the case then why aren't the proposals biker friendly? Also, why did they eliminate the x9 & x49 bus services with high ridership? I currently stand & wait 20-30 mins for a bus to have it pass me by bc the buses are full. How is BRT providing more space on the buses? Is BRT also going to eliminate fare hikes, so people CAN ride vs driving? Do you expect small business owners to have their goods deliver to them via BRT? How are they going to provide that service? Why is BRT proposing construction to eliminate the just completed medians w/ trees & plants in a city w/ barely any green around especially if BRT is supposed to be progressive & environmentally friendly? I'm all for saving the environment & more mass public transit, but For non-driving people I still do not see the benefits of the BRT proposals.

  • @catboatbob - I believe the Western/Ashland BRT projects eliminate local service along these corridors, making the stops 1/2 mile apart instead of 1/4 mile. I fail to see how eliminating local service along a 16 mile corridor squares with the 'Aging in Place' recommendations of the AARP Public Policy Institute.

    Will BRT on Western/Ashland...

    1) "enable all users, regardless of age or ability, to get to where they want to go"

    A) No. Users with limited mobility who require local service will be excluded.

    2) "Improv[e] human service transportation coordination to more efficiently use
    limited resources"

    A) No. CTA's own estimates place the old X bus speeds at 24 mph systemwide, faster than BRT. Improved bus kiosk information is not dependent on BRT. Improved fare collection is not dependent on BRT. Reduced local service will place increased burdens on PACE paratransit. A return to Xbus service and systemic improvements yields more benefits for riders using limited resources.

    I hope you look a bit more deeply into the particulars of the Western/Ashland BRT plan and consult your membership about support. I know there were many seniors upset with the elimination of the Lincoln #11 bus by CTA in Chicago on a short corridor. I don't imagine they support eliminating local service on a 16 mile corridor.

    There are forward-leaning options like improved Express bus service (similar to the Jeffrey Jump) and Select Bus Service-like improvements (as seen in NYC) which offer nearly all of the benefits of BRT with fewer drawbacks at a fraction of the price.

  • Hi STL.
    I'm in full agreeance that the proposal lacks clarity in terms of bikers and the effect on current bus riders as well as its cost efficiency. But my point is that the proposal is very specifically about prioritizing Ashland and Western for BRT over other modes of transit. Including bikes. I for one am ok with this so long as bikers are given consideration in other ways (ie provided other North South routes or offered an easy to use multi modal ride system on BRT.)

    As far as the express busses are concerned, I think these questions are totally valid from a city expenditures perspective and I agree that the CTA needs to do a better job justifying their proposed costs here specifically as regards this issue. It sounds like I'm preaching to the choir there though.

    And of course I do not expect business to receive deliveries via BRT BUT my opinion is that business logistics issues should not trump a valuable transit improvement if indeed that is what BRT can offer. I for one think that Chicago does an awful lot of pandering to business so I feel no remorse when the city decides to put the city first now and again. Adaptable business will adapt rigid business will suffer. That's how this works.

    I think BRT could be a great option for Chicago and I am simply arguing not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Does CTA need to justify all of the things you mention? Yep, you bet. But there is sufficient cause for the radical thinking that BRT represents. Chicago is not going to build more El. Not on our pitiful budget but a BRT system sounds plausible to me and it has worked in other cities. Go ride the MUNI if you don't believe me.

    Chicago transit could really use a big win right now. I for one am willing to give this proposal it's day in court.

  • Bob Gallo State Director, AARP Illinois

    Hi Joseph: Believe me I'm fully aware of the guiding principles of AARP policy and always take that into consideration. My comments on supporting BRT take that into consideration for the benefits it will offer many of our members and other individuals age 50+. It's interesting to point out that almost half of our members are currently employed so balancing the needs of such a large constituency is not unlike hearing the many pros and cons we're reading here. I plan to meet with CTA officials in the near future to learn how this initiative will take into consideration the transportation needs of the community at large and off course in consideration of our guiding policy. Thanks for your comments and obseravations I enjoy hearing from all points of view. All my best, Bob

  • @catboatbob - I missed the 1999 (wow..time flies) name change from American Association of Retired Persons to AARP. My apologies!

    I hope all your members 50+ live well into their 80s and beyond, as they are predicted to do in ever greater numbers moving forward. That leaves a supermajority of the predicted lifespan of your members, current employment status notwithstanding, firmly in retirement. At a minimum, your members will live as many years beyond 70 as they will in their 50s. If you want to pitch reduced commuting times (at the expense of local service) as a reason for AARP endorsement, that is your choice. Age demographics and typical bus ridership demographics say your members will overwhelmingly prefer continued local service, in large numbers today and in much larger numbers tomorrow.

    If I can make a modest suggestion for you: please ask that the Division Blue Line stop be made ADA-accessible as part of this project. It is the northern terminal point of the BRT line. A $80-100M BRT line sold as improving intermodal transit service that fails to link said modes for people with mobility issues sounds wrong to me.


  • Bob Gallo State Director, AARP Illinois

    Hi Joseph, Stay tuned for our next name change, it's going to be one that promises real possiblities for out members and all individuals ages 50+. It's interesting that the city and many other municipalities have yet to acknowledge that their populations are aging. Fine that the mayor is working to make the city attractive to young folks but so far not acknowledgement about the real trend and what's needed to prepare for it. It can be an opportunity not a problem if thought of correctly. Many of those individuals will be working into their 70's and maybe 80's either by desire or need. Thanks for you good thoughts and yes I will ask about that Division Blue Line stop being made ADA accessible. Thanks for pointing that out. All my best, Bob

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Hopefully the station at Division will be made ADA compliant sooner than later.

    I suppose that would be an argument for doing BRT on Western, since the Blue Line's Artimage/Western stop does have an elevator and is already ADA compliant..

  • Mitchell Brown Historic Preservation fan

    The next time you're out and about, take a look at all the cars with just one person behind the wheel. Older cities like Chicago were built before every household had one, two, or three cars. Taking buses out of the flow of traffic will allow them keep to a schedule better and probably allow for more buses on the routes. Any and all change is met with skepticism and I suppose this is no different. For all the drivers howling about their commute will encounter impediments, timed in seconds, I have no sympathy. Better mass-transit will have the effect of getting people out of their cars and that makes it better for those who MUST drive. The next time you're sitting traffic just remember YOU are traffic.

  • I think it's interesting that Active Transportation Alliance, which supports BRT, did not notify its mailing list about this meeting. This thread I'm reading today is the first I'm hearing of it.

12 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

This was posted to 1613 W Washington Blvd.

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