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Answers to your questions to Ron, Part 1

Before our second Coffee with Ron, I asked you to share questions you wanted me to ask Ron. And boy did you respond. I got more than 80 questions/comments for Ron. I asked many of them, and sent the rest to his staff for them to answer. Here's the first in a series answers to those questions.

When is the CTA store reopening? (From Rhiakell.) The CTA announced today they are outsourcing the former Gift Express program to Image Exchange, who is running CTAGifts.com. The Tribune reported:

In the deal with Image Exchange Inc., a New York company, the CTA will be paid royalties based on a percentage of sales, officials said. The royalties will be 10 percent the first year and 12 percent in subsequent years, officials said.  "This is not a huge revenue source, but we are not overlooking any source of raising funds," said CTA President Ron Huberman.

When three-tracking is over, will the Purple Line return to being routed around the inner Loop? (From Paul.) Simple answer: Yes, said Huberman. The three-tracking will end before the end of this year.

Will the CTA please start using their Twitter account to announce system problem? Will the CTA please update their website and/or Twitter account QUICKLY when there is a customer alert? (From Bryan.) In this case, it's CTA Tattler and my brother Dan who stepped up and created the Twitter account -- ctatweet -- with help from Harper Reed. The CTA contributes alert information through our Upoc group, and we port that over to Twitter. So all you have to do is monitor the Twitter ctatweet feed or check the site.

"I recommend permanently shuttering the Wellington Brown Line stop." (From the Doc.) Won't happen. Ron said the stop will reopen as scheduled by Dec. 31, 2009.

More to come. . . .


The real problem with Wellington is that the CTA designed & rebuilt Belmont wrong.
Which is typical of CTA station redesigns, as they are almost always done wrong.
The new Belmont station should have been built south of where it is with a southern entrance/exit towards Wellington. The added cost to to this at Belmont would have been less than the cost of rebuilding Wellington.
But as we all know, common sense has never been a priority at the CTA!

UCC, that would have involved a lot more real estate acquisition, which would have impacted the Environmental Impact Statement. Even from a technical standpoint it's not as simple as you make it seem, and that's not getting into all the political considerations that come with station placement, property acquisition, and so forth.

[The added cost to to this at Belmont would have been less than the cost of rebuilding Wellington.]

This (indirectly) brings up a question I've had about the Wellington reconstruction. It seems like there's very little room for the NB platform at Wellington.

What is the actual plan for the Wellington construction? Are the tracks going to be moved to make more room on the east side? Or are the platforms simply going to be very, very narrow, like they were before? Or is there actually enough room there and I'm misjudging it?

It seems like a waste for the CTA to run a train all the way to Linden and back if significant number of the passengers are getting off near the loop.

Also, my comment was about the fact that it seems like the express tracks are mostly slow zones. The CTA has been busy fixing the slow zones on the other lines, why not do the evanston express next?

[But hey, at least take heart in the fact that your train bypasses all of us dirty people in Rogers Park and Edgewater.]

Well I do think stopping at Loyola would be a great idea, since the trip on the red line is pretty long.

"that would have involved a lot more real estate acquisition, which would have impacted the Environmental Impact Statement."

No it wouldn't, it would have been different properties that had to be bought.
If the Belmont platforms had been moved south, then there wouldn't have been the need to buy all the property north of Belmont to the Clark Junction tower.
Unless of course they don't resell that property after the construction, which means the CTA is banking the land in preparation for planned, but never built flyover for the Ravenswood trains.
But if they are banking the land for the flyover, then it makes no sense to have not done it at the same time.

It would have been more acquisition. The right-of-way widens at Belmont; if you wanted to widen a narrower portion of the ROW south of Belmont to have the same width required for the wide platforms necessitated by ADA-accessibility and the high passenger volume, it would have been more acquisition. You're right that all told, acquiring more land and only building one new station would probably be cheaper than building two new ones, but then you're still dealing with the political can of room of station closures that CTA has never pursued since the Green Line fiasco mid 90s.

The land north of Belmont was acquired for all of the field offices for the construction contractors - it's not for a flyover. It will almost certainly be either sold or leased after the project is complete. A flyover was studied some years ago, and between the environmental impact and cost it's just a non-starter. Maybe someone can write a pork earmark for it and steamroll through federal approval of the EIS.

"can of room" = "can of worms"
Brain fart.

Shortly after I moved here in '97, I was taking the Brown Line from Belmont to Paulina, and as the train waited for other traffic to clear, I thought, "Huh. I bet if they built the Brown Line track to go over the other three, it would be faster." Well, I started to think it, because before I finished that sentence mentally, I realized it was the stupidest damned thought my brain had made in years and years and years. Way too much expense for way too little benefit. I've had a little talk with my brain, and it hasn't thought anything that stupid since then, I'm happy to say.

I've had a little talk with my brain, and it hasn't thought anything that stupid since then, I'm happy to say.

Oh, Bob. That is almost too good to pass-up, but I'm going to. lol

"Oh, Bob. That is almost too good to pass-up, but I'm going to. lol"

I also will for now. But I won't guarantee that it is a permanant pass-up.

No, believe me, the idea of a flyover from Belmont to Southport is so incredibly stupid that that *is* the lowest my brain has sunk since then. But I surely await your streams of consciousness suggesting otherwise, kids.

Granted, I live in a world in which endless debate -- *heated* debate -- over the utterly hypothetical closure of a station is considered time well spent. So. Some people's mileage clearly varies.

As for another well-beaten, rotting horse corpse in this debate, someone said, "The purple line is called the Evanston Express for a reason, and not because it's express. (track 4 is mostly slow zones)"

"Express" trains -- this applies to many cities and to busses as well -- are called that not because they're magically fast but because they bypass stops. That has the benefit of speeding them up, generally; slow zones or not, those Purple Lines would be a *lot* slower if they *did* make North Main stops here and there.

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