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Could This Be The Future Of Public Transit In Chicago?

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 16, 2014 7:00PM

The proposed future rail lines in the "Transit Future" plan. (Image credit: Center for Neighborhood Technology, John Greenfield)
Last week the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance unveiled a new campaign called “Transit Future” to encourage the Cook County Board of Commissioners to find a new revenue stream to fund a modernization and expansion of public transit in the greater Chicago area. The campaign already has the backing of nine county commissioners.

Transit Future is modeled after a successful campaign to fund the expansion of Los Angeles’ public transit system. In 2008, Angelenos voted to raise L.A. County’s sales tax by a half-penny, generating $40 billion for the project. Active Trans and CNT believe “Transit Future” would cost $20 billion to realize but they’re vague on where the money would originate. (That’s probably a wise decision since County Board President Toni Preckwinkle rolled back the penny sales tax hike of her predecessor Todd Stroger and area voters have been trained to scream whenever the words “tax hike” are uttered.)

The campaign includes projects such as bus rapid transit routes and expanding the Red Line’s South Branch. On the latter, CTA has narrowed their options to two: one along existing freight tracks; the other down the middle of Halsted Street. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, is endorsing the freight rail option.

The “Transit Future” plan also calls for a “South Lakefront Service” connecting unserved portions of the south lakefront to the Loop; a “Lime Line” for easy north-south service on the West side and connect to the Blue, Green, Pink, Orange and Red Lines; an extension of the Brown Line so that it connects with the Blue Line O’Hare Branch; modernizing the north branch of the Red Line (which will eventually happen); modernizing the Blue Line’s Forest Park branch; extending the Orange Line from Midway Airport to Ford City Mall; and creating transportation center in the West Loop for riders to connect easier from Amtrak, the “L” and Metra rail lines.