The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

More Progressive Thinking by New CDOT Chief

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 14, 2011 4:30PM

Image by Tommy Territt

We're starting to develop a fondness for new Transportation Department commissioner Gabe Klein. Yesterday, we told you of his willingness to consider installing "Barnes Dances" aka "pedestrian scrambles" or "diagonal crossing" at high-traffic intersections downtown in an effort to facilitate pedestrian traffic.

Today, the Sun-times reports Klein wants to maximize the 2,200 lighted bus shelters throughout the city for something other than rotating ads and graffiti scratched into the glass by installing video monitors that would broadcast to people waiting for buses Bus Tracker information, estimated walking times to popular destinations close to a specific bus stop and information on car- and bike-sharing programs.

It's another case of Klein trying to bring something successful he did while he was transportation czar in Washington, DC to Chicago.

“In D.C., we piloted multi-modal screens in our bus shelters. They told riders when the next bus was coming. We designed an application that can run on any TV screen with real-time information about various businesses like car-sharing and bike-sharing,” said Klein, who launched the nation’s largest bike-sharing program in the nation’s capital.

“I want to do something [in Chicago that’s even] more robust that tells you in real time how many vehicles are available [for car-sharing], where the next-closest bus is and when it’s coming and how long it’ll take if I choose to walk there.”

We want to see it happen and CTA may even have the funds available to realize that plan. A decade ago, French company JC Decaux paid $275 million over 20 years for the bus shelter contract. But much of that money was deferred until the second half of the contract, which the city and Deceaux entered this year. $135 million of that deferred money would come in the final five years of the contract. The excess revenue from the bus shelter contract is expected to help finance operations at Millennium Park. But could there be enough to actually wire the bus shelters to the Information Age?