Ask for better transit on Western and Ashland

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune covered how Chicago will get a taste of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) this year as the City implements elements of BRT on Jeffery Boulevard. This is an exciting development for public transit in Chicago, introducing new transit strategies to provide faster, more reliable and more convenient service. It lays the groundwork for upcoming BRT projects, where transit riders and all Chicagoans can and should ask for more.

Chicago has an incredible opportunity to improve transit and economic activity with the upcoming BRT project in the Western and Ashland corridor. In order to provide better service, BRT relies on bus-only lanes, full-service transit stations and high-tech traffic signals. Some people may resist dedicating even a small portion of our roadways to transit, but doing so makes a more efficient transportation network that benefits everyone. Chicago needs to make transit a priority on the streets in this corridor.

Our neighborhoods need better transit options! We urge the CTA and the aldermen in this corridor to include bus-only lanes and other transit improvements on Western and Ashland to provide world-class BRT service. Our city and state elected leaders also need to invest in better transit by finding funding for expanded service that meets the needs of the transit-riding public.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your alderman to prioritize transit with bus-only lanes!

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The problem with the whole

The problem with the whole BRT project is that none of the three alternatives proposed by CTA will work:

1. Removing travel lanes will likely make a conjestion/bad pollution situation even worse (particularly on Ashland);

2. Reducing sidewalks will turn these streets into highway-like corridors that bisect neighborhoods; the sidewalks in many areas of these streets is already pretty narrow;

3. Removing parking will hurt residents who live along these corridors, many of whom are low income; Ashland in particular has residential areas with very dense residential zoning.

Overall, BRT seems like an ok idea, but when CTA talks about implementing it on Ashland and Western, it falls apart. If the BRT routes elminate parking for thousands of residents, make Ashland and Western look like the Kennedy Expressway, or, perhaps most damaging of all, make getting from place to place a lot more difficult for tens of thousands, I honestly think that this will be an issue for Emmanuel in the next election.

Something has to be removed

Something has to be removed on Western to make space for the bus-only lanes. At the public meeting, there were alternatives to remove on-street parking, reduce sidewalk widths, or remove travel lanes. I'm not sure how easy it will be to remove the on-street parking with the parking meter lease, but I guess that would be my preferred option. What do you think?

Meter lease

I think the meter lease really fouls things up. My ideal solution would be to tear down several foreclosed buildings throughout the neighborhoods and build metered parking ramps. This would get rid of the empty buildings that seem to attract crime, and provide the trade-off for the meters being taken off the street. And it's easier than parallel parking. But it's not a free solution.

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