Check out the recent transit-related posts on the Active Trans blog, Write of Way. 

 

Wish you had a better train station? We can help!

Wish you had a better train station? We can help!

Active Trans has developed a new tool for assessing train stations in the Chicago region that takes a look at all aspects of the station and determines what’s needed to improve it.

The Chicagoland Complete Station Evaluation form easily walks participants through a station while taking a close look at safety and accessibility as well as passenger amenities.

The goal is to identify what might be missing — whether that’s a well-marked crosswalk, bike parking near the station or a functional ticket vending machine.

The assessment helps identify the changes transit riders wish to see at their stop and prioritize them into manageable short-term and long-term goals.

Similar to the Better Blocks assessments we’ve conducted for years in Chicago neighborhoods, this is a hands-on tool that community organizations and small neighborhood groups can use as a first step to improving local stations.

The evaluation is designed to be easy to use by anyone with or without direct help from Active Trans staff. Motivated residents and neighborhood groups can conduct these station evaluations on their own knowing Active Trans is always here to help move forward on fixing problems the assessment identifies.

Have a station you think could use some love and attention? We’re looking for community and neighborhood groups in the city and suburbs interested in working with us to set up the first round of evaluations.

Contact Brenna Conway (brenna@activetrans.org) for more details on how to get your station on the list!

Put Chicagoland back on track by fully funding public transportation

Put Chicagoland back on track by fully funding public transportation

Remember last year when CTA and Metra were forced to raise fare prices to make ends meet? Riders had to tighten their belts, and as it turns out they’ve done it by choosing to ride a little less often.

CTA’s reports for recent months indicate a slight drop in ridership over past year. At a recent CTA board meeting, transit officials pointed out that while it is a relatively small change, one of the reasons for the decrease in ridership was the increased cost of the seven day pass.

Increased fares and subsequent decreases in ridership are just symptoms of the much larger problem facing transit agencies. Significant underfunding has forced the transit agencies to make tough decisions and the result is that we as riders are getting less for our money or choosing not to take transit at all.

We see the effects of the chronic underfunding not just in the drop in ridership, but also in the quality of the transit service provided.

According to a recent Chicago Sun Times editorial, Metra spent quite a bit of time apologizing for service disruptions this week. The commuter rail line suffered “19 days in which problems with locomotives, switches, signals and weather delayed trains 143 times on its Burlington Northern Sante Fe line.”

In the same period, the editorial noted, four other Metra lines also missed their on-time targets.

The drop in ridership and the steady increase of problems on transit systems, the backlog of necessary maintenance projects are all evidence of the fact that we have not given transit the funding it needs.

The world class transit system that Chicagoland wants and deserves is not going to build itself. It takes investment and commitment from our elected officials. Our elected leaders hold the purse strings and decide whether our transit agencies will keep struggling to make ends meet or grow to meet our needs. We need to speak up to demand that they increase investment in transit.

Sign on today to tell your elected officials you deserve better transit.

New video shows the benefits of BRT on Ashland Ave.

New video shows the benefits of BRT on Ashland Ave.

We’re excited about the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project proposed for Ashland Avenue and we know residents and businesses along Ashland are too.

Our partners at the Metropolitan Planning Council recently released a great video showing the benefits of BRT.

The video features interviews with Gabe Klein from the Chicago Department of Transportation, CTA's Chief Planning Officer Rebekah Scheinfeld, Ashland corridor residents and Warren Ribley, executive director of the Illinois Medical District — all explaining how BRT will help get people where they need to go conveniently and on time.

The video does a great job of illustrating just how easy and fast BRT service will be and how transformative it will be to the Ashland corridor.

As the video explains, BRT will improve the quality of life along Ashland, from providing better access to jobs and services, to reducing traffic congestion and making our streets safer. It means a new option for people to get around.

The center-running lanes designated only for buses will allow buses to go 80 percent faster during rush hour than they do today. This will make transit a desirable choice for many people. It will be affordable and it will be convenient. 

Help us make BRT on Ashland a reality by voicing your support for the project. Whether you are a resident, business owner or frequent transit user, our local elected officials need to hear why you believe Bus Rapid Transit will improve your community.

Send a message to the CTA and your alderman in support of BRT on Ashland and throughout Chicago. 

Red Line South Closure: Rider Voices Amplified on Day of Action

Red Line South Closure: Rider Voices Amplified on Day of Action

It has begun! After months of anticipation, the historic shut down of the southern portion of the CTA Red Line finally got underway the morning of Sunday May 19. 

On Monday May 20, Riders for Better Transit and community partners across the South Side will mobilize for a day of action to organize around the Riders Bill of Rights. Volunteers will be at CTA stations collecting signatures for the Riders Bill of Rights, which will help ensure their voices are heard throughout the duration of the Red Line closure and beyond. You can view and sign the Riders Bill of Rights here.

Look for volunteers in blue Riders for Better Transit shirts at Garfield Green Line Station between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. on Monday May 20!

In addition to grassroots mobilization, Riders for Better Transit has been helping to spread the word and connect with residents through local media outlets. Check out some of the coverage below:

Take Action to Support Faster, More Reliable Transit on Ashland Avenue and Across Chicago

Take Action to Support Faster, More Reliable Transit on Ashland Avenue and Across Chicago

Momentum is building for bringing world-class transit to Ashland Avenue and other parts of Chicago, but your help is needed to keep it going.

You may have heard that CTA recently announced exciting plans to implement Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Ashland Avenue between 95th Street and Irving Park Road.

Imagine taking transit on Ashland meant service that’s faster, more reliable and more like taking the train. The first phase of this project will run from 31st Street to Cortland Street. 

The plans for BRT will create a more welcoming environment for people who are walking and prioritize transit on the street by converting the center lanes on Ashland to bus-only lanes and adding full-service transit stations and high-tech traffic signals.

It’s a smarter way to move people and better balance the needs of everyone who uses our streets. BRT will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, provide better access to jobs and services, reduce traffic congestion and make our streets safer.

The plan put forward by the city puts us on the right path. Now our city officials need to hear that we support this new vision.

Please follow this link to send a message to the CTA and your alderman supporting BRT on Ashland and throughout Chicago!

The inspiration to bike to work can come from anywhere

The inspiration to bike to work can come from anywhere

What will make you want to participate in Bike to Work Week, June 8-14?

Maybe it will be this new Active Trans video?

 

Or it could be this free t-shirt you get by becoming a Team Leader in the Bike Commuter Challenge?

 

Or maybe it's this fun spoke card you'll receive at one of our Team Leader meetups, beginning 5/21.

 

Whatever ends up motivating you to ride during Chicago's Bike to Work Week (June 8-14), don't stop when it's over!  Help grow the movement by riding happily and safely all year long!

Red Line South Rider's Bill of Rights

Red Line South Rider's Bill of Rights

On May 19, the south portion of the Red Line will be closed from Chinatown/Cermak station to the 95th Street terminal while the tracks are replaced.

During the 5 months of scheduled construction, nearly 45,000 average daily riders of the Dan Ryan Red Line will need to use alternative transit service. The CTA has made it clear that this project is a necessity and that it will result in a faster, smoother Red Line ride.

We understand that this construction is necessary to improve our transit system, but we also know it will be an inconvenience for many riders.

Transit is vitally important on the south side of Chicago (and throughout the city) because it provides an affordable, convenient and healthy way to get around the city. As the backbone of our system, the Red Line connects many Chicago communities to schools, jobs and healthcare.

Because we believe the rights of transit riders should be respected during this 5 month construction period, we have outlined the following Transit Rider Rights during the Red Line south reconstruction.

Show your support by signing the Red Line South Bill of Rights!

We have a right to quality public transit, even during the Red Line south reconstruction project.

1. We deserve fast and reliable transit service, even during Red Line construction.
2. We deserve transparency from the CTA on temporary service performance, the jobs promised and the status of construction.
3. We deserve clear and proactive communication from the CTA that ensures our communities understand the changes to transit service.
4. We deserve stations and amenities that can accommodate the additional passengers along alternative transit routes.
5. We deserve to be listened to during the Red Line closure.

Sign up and learn more at www.activetrans.org/redline

Getting around during the Red Line south closure

Getting around during the Red Line south closure

On May 19, the south portion of the Red Line will be closed from Chinatown/Cermak Station to the 95th Street terminal while the tracks are replaced. During the five months of scheduled construction, nearly 45,000 daily riders of the Dan Ryan Red Line will need to use alternative transit service.

We understand that this construction is necessary to improve our transit system, but we also know it will be an inconvenience for many riders.

So here’s the scoop about getting around during the closure, where to get the latest travel info and how to avoid delays.

Tip 1: Get to know the Green Line

During the Red Line south closure, the CTA will be using the Green Line 63rd/Ashland to connect south side riders to the Loop and beyond. If you live or work close to a Green Line station, use that during the construction.

The Green Line will operate 24/7 and all buses on east-west streets that currently serve Red Line stations will also stop at the Green Line. For example, if you currently take the 47th Street bus to the Red Line, that bus will drop you off at the Green Line.

Tip 2: Remember to get off at the Garfield Green Line station for shuttle buses

If you regularly travel south of 63rd Street on the Red Line, you will need to use the shuttle buses that CTA is providing. These buses connect the 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line.

At most times of the day (4 a.m.-1 a.m.), there will be express buses that take you directly from each of these stations to the Garfield Green Line station and back. These express buses are called R69, R79, R87 and R95.

Remember, these buses only stop at Garfield and the final destination indicated by their route name. All shuttle buses are free and you will also get free entry to the Green Line if you arrive by shuttle bus.

Tip 3: Pay close attention to bus route names and destinations

If you travel between two stations south of 63rd Street (from 95th Street to 69th Street, for example), you will need to use the free local shuttle called R63. This route will run between 95th and 63rd Streets making stops along the way at all the normal Red Line stations.

Keep in mind that most of the time (4 a.m.-1a.m.) the R63 will terminate at 63rd Street; it will not take you all the way to Garfield to connect to the Green Line. So if you are hoping to get to the Loop, make sure to take an express bus instead.

If you need to travel between 1a.m. and 4 a.m., no need to worry about which bus to take. Only the local service will operate at that time and it will make all stops between 95th and the Garfield Green Line station.

Tip 4: Allow extra time for traffic and transfers

The shuttle buses may travel directly on the Dan Ryan or through side streets as traffic allows. CTA will do its best to find the quickest route for the buses, including having real time information for bus drivers to make adjustments, but it’s a fair bet that travel times may take longer than the train, especially during rush hour.

Tip 5: Consider a different route

As part of this plan, all buses south of 63rd Street will be offering a reduced fare.  

Pace and Metra are also helping make it easier to get around during the Red Line closure. Pace will run two new express buses to the CTA’s Roosevelt Red Line station during rush hours: one from the Pace Blue Island park-and-ride lot, the other from the Harvey Transportation Center. Each service will provide six morning and six afternoon trips for the duration of the project, as well as one midday round-trip serving Blue Island, Harvey and the Roosevelt station.

Metra will change the flag stops to regular stops at five Metra Electric stations in proximity to the Red Line for two inbound trains during the weekday morning rush hour, and two outbound trains in the weekday evening rush hour. Those stops are: 63rd, 75th, 79th, 87th and 95th. In addition, several Saturday trains also will make regular stops, instead of flag stops, at those five stations.

Tip 6: Stay connected with real-time updates

We hope everything runs smoothly with the alternative service, but delays can happen. Use one of these methods to stay connected so in the event of traffic, overcrowding or service breakdowns, you can make changes to your travel plan.

Know your rights! Sign on to the Red Line South Riders Bill of Rights asking the CTA to keep its commitments to residents living in affected areas.

The 2013 Bike Commuter Challenge is here!

The 2013 Bike Commuter Challenge is here!

Active Transportation Alliance’s annual Bike Commuter Challenge is now open for registration! 

Last year, Active Trans introduced a new website – www.bikecommuterchallenge.org – that allowed all team members to track their own trips, and offered Bike to Work Week and Commuter Challenge information in one, easy-to-access location. The real-time leaderboards encouraged friendly competition between rival companies that often flared up on Facebook and Twitter.

This year, after 21 years of competitions, participants and organizations now can also measure their mileage, greenhouse gases prevented and calories burned. Online prize drawings will be offered to encourage people to track their trips, and teams can even offer their own prizes to their participants through the website.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit www.bikecommuterchallenge.org and click the “sign up today” to register as a user at Active Trans’ new trip-tracking platform  – it’s easy! From there you can join the Bike Commuter Challenge as a Team Leader by creating a new team for your office, or as a team member by joining an existing team. A Team Leader can be anyone – an administrator, staff, president, director, owner, manager – whoever! Team Leaders get a free t-shirt, too.
     
  2. The Team Leader then encourages his or her coworkers to sign up at the website and join the workplace's team with the goal of having each team member log at least one bike trip during Bike to Work Week. Teams are judged equally based on a formula that weighs company size, team members and trips logged. Mileage is tracked but doesn’t factor towards a team's success. This way, co-workers just getting into bike commuting can ride whatever distance they are comfortable doing – such as to a transit stop in their neighborhood – and contribute just as much as the seasoned riders on the team.
     
  3. Active Trans supplies Team Leaders with a free t-shirt and all the tools they need to make biking an easy choice for their teammates (bike maps, how-to manuals and a website with real-time stats to serve as inspiration).
     
  4. The companies with the highest team rating during Bike to Work Week win! An awards party for all Team Leaders will honor the winning companies.

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements at www.bikecommuterchallenge.org, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, regarding Team Leader packet pick-up and our line-up great of Bike to Work Week events! Join today!

Next stop on Ashland Ave.: Bus Rapid Transit

Next stop on Ashland Ave.: Bus Rapid Transit

Transit riders rejoice! A new day is dawning for public transportation in Chicago.

This morning the CTA released initial details on their vision for bringing Bus Rapid Transit to Ashland Avenue, beginning with a stretch between 31st Street and Cortland Street.

For those of us who care about bringing world-class public transit to Chicago, the announcement is cause for celebration (and it’s Friday!). A special thanks to the 1,300 of you who contacted your aldermen to support this project.

As explained in this handy infographic that Riders for Better Transit released last fall, BRT is a new mode of public transit that reinvents the bus. It offers a faster transit option that runs on existing streets, but with the convenience and reliability of a train.

Sounds great! But like many transit options, the devil is in the details.

Today’s announcement reflects a big win for all of us. The city chose a street configuration with center-running bus-only lanes, which we endorsed last year, because we believe it can provide the greatest improvement to transit service while making the street more pedestrian- and business-friendly.

All of these things add up to an efficient and easy system that’s a whole lot better than a regular old bus. And none of this would have happened without the input and energy of passionate advocates like you. Thank you for being involved.

Stay tuned for more news on BRT and other important transit topics by signing up for the Riders For Better Transit email list. You can also like us on facebook.

Image courtesy of BRT Chicago. 

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