NY’s ‘Streetfighter’ brings strategy to Chicago

IMG_0198 (2)By Richard Wronski/ Chicago Transportation Journal

“It’s a street fight,” says Janette Sadik-Khan. “It is a fight to make space for people. … It is a fight we can win and it is a fight we must win because when you change the street you change the world.”

Sadik-Khan served as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013, a tenure that was both transformative and turbulent. She won international renown for her efforts to tame the city’s notoriously clogged streets, turning scores of traffic areas into pedestrian plazas and carving hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes.

But while many considered Sadik-Khan a visionary, others found her divisive. As a top commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, she was – like him — sometimes faulted for a “my-way-or-the-highway” style of leadership. Her programs drew frequent flak from politicians, businesses and community groups. As expected, the controversial Sadik-Khan was red meat for New York’s tabloids.  One columnist labeled Sadik-Khan the city’s “wacko nutso bike commissioner.”

Through it all, the outspoken Sadik-Khan never fled from a battle with a borough president or a clash with status-quo transportation doctrine. Thus, it’s no surprise she titled her new book, “Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.”

Sadik-Khan spoke in Chicago Tuesday before more than 100 transportation officials and wonks as part of the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Urban Think & Drink series. It was clear many were fans.

For those not as familiar with Sadik-Khan, here are some takeaways from her address:

Transportation officials…

Pace has new bus/Metra strategy for DuPage

By Richard Wronski/ Chicago Transportation Journal

Pace has unveiled a new strategy to improve its DuPage County service, introducing a brand-new route along busy Ogden Ave. and restructuring several routes serving Metra stations. The plan would significantly increase the number of BNSF trains served by these restructured routes and give riders more flexibility, Pace said.

The strategy targets what transportation experts call the “last mile,” the gap between a commuter’s home and his/her mode of public transit. In suburbs like Naperville and Downers Grove, Pace tries to fill that gap with bus service to and from some of Metra’s most-used stations.

Pace’s plan, which the agency said represents a $1 million investment, could go into effect this June. But first, Pace will hold public hearings to discuss the proposed changes on March 29, 30 and 31. The affected communities include Naperville, Lisle, Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lombard.

These communities largely feed Metra’s busiest line, the BNSF, which carries some 64,000 riders each weekday on 94 trains.

Mike Bolton, Pace’s deputy executive director for strategic services, told the Chicago Transportation Journal that the changes came about through an ongoing analysis of ridership.

Using data from the new Ventra fare card and other programs, Pace found it could combine some portions of existing routes in both the morning and evening to get better ridership on the trips and we also meet more trains, Bolton said.

“We found that we could save some vehicles that we could then use for the Ogden route that we have wanted to put into place since the Southwest DuPage study that we did nearly 10…

Update: New Metra Heritage Corridor train rolls

By Richard Wronski / Chicago Transportation Journal

Riders on Metra’s Heritage Corridor line metralogocan now get home a little earlier each weekday.

On Monday, Metra inaugurated a 2:45 pm departure train from Union Station. The additional train boosts the number of Heritage Corridor runs from six to seven: three inbound morning runs and four outbound runs each weekday. The line has no weekend service.

The new train will make stops at Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont and Lockport before arriving at its final destination in Joliet at 3:50 p.m.

The Heritage Corridor is Metra’s least-used line, with only 2,400 weekday riders. By contrast, the Electric District line has 170 weekday trains carrying 33,500 riders, and the BNSF Line operates 94 weekday trains, with nearly 64,000 riders.

Metra CEO/Executive Director Don Orseno said the additional train provides more convenience and options for southwest suburban customers.

The new service is the result of years of effort by Metra and elected officials along the route to bolster the Heritage Corridor, Orseno said. The new service required agreements from the Canadian National Railway Co., which owns the tracks and operates freight service on the line, and Amtrak, which owns Union Station.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd), whose district includes much of the Heritage Corridor, has pressed CN for years to allow Metra to add service. In 2013, Lipinski said he was so frustrated with CN that he considered introducing legislation to force the railroad to allow more Metra trains.

Lipinski told the Chicago Transportation Journal he was pleased with CN’s decision but said it was “not…