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The Chicago region’s current hub-and-spoke transit system leaves nearly half a million Cook County residents stranded in transit deserts.

A quick rundown of sustainable transportation projects in Chicago

Active Transportation Alliance recently invited local advocates to gather for the latest news and updates about projects impacting sustainable transportation in the region.

Kicking off the discussion was an update on Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition transportation subcommittee.

Active Transportation Alliance, which served on the subcommittee, was pleased that priorities like restricting right turns on red lights and limiting commercial traffic on residential streets were among the recommendations.

The committee also recommended closely considering the impacts of development and making sure to invest in transportation systems in underserved areas. (You could read more about Mayor Johnson’s transition report here.)

The discussion covered a handful of ongoing initiatives that are intended improve public transportation.

  • The Better Streets for Busses Plan, which is expected to be released in coming months, is a collaboration between the CTA and CDOT to improve street infrastructure for bus service.
  • Pace Pulse is a rapid transit service that provides quicker and more reliable bus transportation in some of Chicago’s more heavily-traveled corridors. One anticipated expansion of this service will connect the 95th Street CTA Red Line terminal to various suburban destinations.
  • CTA has updated its “Meeting the Moment” scorecard, which is an interactive dashboard that provides detailed operational data and updates on service delivery, staffing, maintenance, and cleanliness.
  • Metra released a new strategic plan that calls for a transition to what’s called “regional rail,” which will increase frequency of lines running through dense areas. Under this plan, for example, Metra trains will run every 10-15 minutes between the South Side and Millennium Park.

 

Active Transportation Alliance staff offered updates on projects that enhance the safety of people walking and biking.

  • In coming years, we’re excited to see that the east end of the 606 Trail will extend under the Kennedy Expressway to Elston Ave.
  • CDOT is working in various places to add protected bike lanes. One high profile project is on Grand Ave. between Chicago Ave. and Damen Ave.
  • The Leavitt Neighborhood Greenway is another project that willl enhance safety for people biking and walking. The greenway, which will run between Diversey Pkwy. and Bryn Mawr Ave., will include street markings, contra-flow lanes, and speed bumps.
  • Active Trans has been pushing for safer crossings, better walking and biking infrastructure, and bus-only lanes in the Grant Park Framework Plan. You can read more about the plan here.

Another plan in development is Redefine the Drive. We’ve been pushing for a plan that calls for dedicated bus lanes without expanding the footprint of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Unfortunately, bus-only lanes are currently not included in the plan due to a focus on outdated models that value the flow of car-centric travel over sustainable public transportation.

One of the great challenges for our transportation system in coming years is an enormous funding shortfall that will impact all of our local public transit agencies. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is working on finding a remedy to this looming fiscal cliff.

The agency has also released a strategic plan that proposes reforms to local transit governance and outlines ways to secure funding for transportation improvement projects.

 

Watch a recording of the advocacy discussion. These regular events will be happening every other month. Catch the next one on Sept. 8. Please register in advance.

Olivia Borowiak is an intern for the Active Transportation Alliance.