Tuesday, January 18, 2011

CTA Red Line extension and transit not discussed by mayoral candidates

Since it appears that the Uptown Update & CTA Tattler are promoting "scoping" meetings starting later this month about modernizing and improving the northern most portion of the CTA L system. Isn't it about time this part of the south side continue discussing the proposed extension of the CTA Red Line into Roseland and Altgeld Gardens from 95th Street?

Looks like according to the NBC Chicago Ward Room blog, talks about that Red Line extension. In fact, they think that the poll from the Amalgamated Transit  Union should have asked about completing the L system. In fact that was the basis for that Ward Room post:
Here’s a better transit-related question for the mayoral candidates: will you support completing the L system? Specifically, will you advocate for the funding to extend the Red Line to 130th, with a terminal near the Altgeld Gardens housing project?

Right now, the Red Line ends at 95-th Street, nearly five miles from Altgeld Gardens, a “transit desert” where half the residents don’t have jobs, or cars that could get them to jobs. These people live inside the city limits, but a bus-and-train trip downtown takes nearly two hours. If the Red Line comes their way, they could get to the Loop in 39 minutes. It would also reduce traffic on the Bishop Ford Freeway by an estimated 20 percent. And, it would bring commerce to an area where residents complain they have to pay $5 for a bag of sugar.

The new tracks would run alongside the existing Union Pacific Railroad, but this would still be an expensive project: $1.4 billion, with 80 percent paid by the federal government, and 20 percent by the state. That’s a lot of money for these times, but bringing the L to the poorest neighborhoods of the Far South Side would fulfill a campaign promise every candidate is offering: to make Chicago one city.
BTW, the mayoral candidates made no mention of transit according to Jon Hilkevitch at the Tribune. That was alluded to at the Ward Room in the same post about the ATU poll.
But a new public-opinion poll on mass-transit issues found that the Chicago electorate cares greatly about CTA service, extending even to individuals who don't ride the system.

Do you see a disconnect between the politicians and the public?

The results suggest that mass transit is a big untapped issue that could play a key role in attracting votes, including among voters who consider themselves undecided in the mayor's race, according to the pollster who was commissioned to conduct the survey for the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents most CTA employees.

"Transit is kind of a sleeper issue in the race," said pollster Vic Fingerhut, who heads a polling firm based in Alexandria, Va. "You'd expect at least one of the campaigns to call for no more service cuts or fare hikes."
Although this isn't indicated by Hilkevitch, I'm starting to think he's referring the ATU poll referred to by the Ward Room. The ATU comes up a little further along in the column:
Officials at the Amalgamated Transit Union said they plan to organize transit passengers as a voting bloc, both for the upcoming election and to contact their elected officials in the run-up to congressional reauthorization of the multiyear federal transportation legislation.

"This is not just a Chicago crisis,'' said Larry Hanley, international president of the transit workers union. "In the last few years nationally, we've seen a crush of new riders but also some of the deepest service cuts and highest increases in fares in the last 50 years.

"Our goal is to get transit back on the political agenda," said Hanley, a former bus driver in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Gas prices are going to go back up again, and we have a great story to tell, one that people who ride our systems believe in."
Bringing this issue back home here, it's probably about time to ask the Aldermanic candidates what their position is on the Red Line extension. We know already that Alderman Lyle supports the extension, but what about the other candidates? Also how do we keep the extension at the top of the CTA's agenda so that it will eventually be built?

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