By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz
3:51 PM CST, February 4, 2013
No final designs have been unveiled, but some already are raising concerns about potential options for express bus service along Ashland and Western avenues.
The CTA is evaluating four designs that could remove car traveling lanes, parking lanes, center medians and left turns along Ashland and Western avenues to make way for bus-only lanes that could cut travel time between Fullerton Avenue and 79th Street nearly in half. A preferred design is expected to be presented early this year.
At a meeting last month with the CTA, aldermen and a network of five Near West Side area business groups, some business owners voiced concerns about the "historic and wide-scale transformation" that bus-rapid transit could have on the two corridors, said Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, one of the coalition groups.
"Our coalition has not taken any official position on [bus rapid transit]. We're studying the issue," Romanelli said. "[The CTA] is talking about eliminating left turns [and] median planters that we spent millions and millions of dollars to build already. …We're just trying to understand what the impact would be."
Meanwhile, last week, Brian Bonnano, sustainability programs manager with the Andersonville Development Corporation, a neigborhood business group, wrote an open letter asking for any express bus service along Ashland Avenue to extend to the intersection of Ashland and Clark Street, north of Bryn Mawr Avenue.
Current CTA proposals place the northern boundary of this service at Irving Park Road, which mirrors the No. 9 Ashland bus route.
"This corridor currently lacks direct, rapid public transit," Bonnano wrote. "The extension would provide a vital transportation route between the densely populated communities of Ravenswood, Uptown, Edgewater and Andersonville and a myriad of communities."
At an unrelated press conference last week, CTA President Forrest Claypool said no decisions have been made about a preferred design plan. A CTA spokeswoman said no bus rapid transit meetings have been scheduled.
The Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicagoland bicycling, walking and transit riding group, is holding a discussion about the future of public transportation in the Chicago area. The summit will be held 8:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 25 at the UBS Tower Conference Center, 1 N. Wacker Drive Go to activetrans.org/TransitSummit2013 for more information.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Kedzie Pink Line
I have very few complaints about this station in North Lawndale. There's some graffiti on ads and signs by the heat lamps on the platform. But what this station (and every other station) needs is a train tracker. CTA President Forrest Claypool said in August that each of the CTA's 145 stations would have a train tracker display within a year. It's especially needed on the Pink Line, which, along with the Yellow Line, didn't see an increase in train service frequency under last year's decrowding plan even though the line saw a 7 percent jump in ridership in 2012 compared to 2011. The Yellow and Pink lines posted some of the highest ridership gains last year. The Kedzie station saw a 10.6 percent ridership boost, the second-biggest Pink Line ridership jump, behind the Cicero and Central Park stops.
Next up: Southport Brown Line
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