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Orange, Yellow line extension meetings set; Cubs night game commuting adventure begins

The CTA over the next week will complete the Alternatives Analysis phase of studies on the Orange and Yellow line extensions.

Riders can view preliminary findings and recommendations of the proposed Orange Line extension to Ford City Mall from 6 till 8 pm tonight (April 22) at Richard J. Daley College in the lobby adjacent to the auditorium, 700 S. Pulaski Rd.

And a Yellow Line meeting on the extension to a proposed new terminal near Old Orchard mall is set for 6 till 8 pm Thursday, April 30, at Niles North High School auditorium, 9800 N. Lawler Ave. in Skokie.

The CTA helpfully reminds us about the FTA's New Starts process:

"The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program requires transit project proposals to proceed through a process of planning, design and construction. The FTA process consists of five formal steps: Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Impact Statement, Preliminary Engineering, Final Design and Construction. The Alternatives Analysis study is designed to examine all the transit options available and determine a locally preferred alternative."


Cubs night game fun begins. I'm a day late in reminding you that this season's night Cubs games has started, impacting the evening commutes of many North Siders. Correct me if I'm wrong South Siders, but the impact of night Sox games on the evening commute is just not as severe.

First, the Cubs fans go to the park earlier because there's plenty to eat and drink around Wrigley. And there are more clueless Cubs fan tourists. The Sox fans for the most part are locals who know their way around.

If you're going to Wrigley, there are plenty of CTA choices enumerated here, including the expanded Purple and Yellow line service for the night games.  A friend at work told me she writes the dates of the night games in her calendar so she can prepare for the masses. If you're like her, click on the continuation for the dates.

Cubs 2009 night games: Tue, Apr 21; Wed, Apr 22; Thu, Apr 30; Mon, May 4; Tue, May 12; Wed, May 13; Mon, May 25; Tue, May 26; Thu, May 28; Tue, Jun 16; Thu, Jul 2; Mon, Jul 6; Tue, Jul 7; Mon, Jul 27; Tue, Jul 28; Tue, Aug 11; Wed, Aug 12; Tue, Aug 25; Wed, Aug 26; Mon, Aug 31; Tue, Sep 1; Mon, Sep 14; Tue, Sep 15; Wed, Sep 16; Tue, Sep 29; Wed, Sep 30; Thu, Oct 1 

Comments

Thanks for the night game listing. They make the evening commute for Metra UP-N commuters hell too. Especially if there is a also a Ravinia performance that night. Looks like this year there another trifecta of northside commute woe (Cubs + Ravinia + Taste) on July 2. *weeps*

Just had to take a shot at Cubs fans and tourists...couldn't resist, could you?

[Just had to take a shot at Cubs fans and tourists...couldn't resist, could you?]

I think it can be read both ways (yes, I know Kevin's a Sox fan).

I took it as, "People are excited for the Cubs and their games are events that draw from far and wide. The Sox? Eh, who are we kidding. No one cares."

See, you just need to run these things through the Sox Inferiority Complex Kiosk - S.I.C.K. for short - to get the real meaning.

I don't commute via the Red Line, but my experience with riding the L to White Sox games bears out Kevin's theory. It's crowded, but never as crowded as a train at Addison is, especially on a weekend. There are two reasons for this. One is that the Green Line stop at 35-Bronzeville-IIT is only a two blocks west of Sox-35, and so it siphons off some of the overflow. The other is that Comiskey is blessed/cursed with acres of parking, which allows thousands of fans to bypass public transit altogether. The situation will only improve if/when Metra builds a 35th St. stop for the Rock Island line.

If there was one thing I wish the CTA would do on Cubs night games would be to have customer assistants on the platforms at busier stations at the PM rush to help the operators get the doors closed quicker and get the packed trains on their way more efficiently. I'm thinking the downtown stations plus maybe Belmont. If they got a little more aggressive about getting the doors closed quickly and getting trains moving right away it would improve things a lot. For example, last night, my train lost at least 3-4 minutes from Jackson through Chicago due to issues getting the doors closed. The train I was on was 100% full by Lake and our delays caused trains behind us to backup. It was completely in vain the the doors kept reopening for more people, who couldn't board. Am I the only one that doesn't understand the use of the annoucement "please use the first available door" when the train is clearly completely packed and scores of people are on the platform patiently waiting for the train to finally leave so the next one can enter the station. I've noticed some operators are much better at getting the doors closed quickly and getting their train going ASAP. Others well, it seems they take their time.

Other reasons for the disparity, which I have witnessed myself are the that the Sox have more of a stigma as a bad area (South Side). True or not, some people might not want to walk around or take the train with that kind of thinking. I don't agree with it, but it is what it is.

Also, Cubs fans never seem to know where they are going. I've been asked dozens of times what stop to get off for Wrigley Field on the Red Line. I always help, but I think this indicates a general confusion which makes everything worse.

Also, many people could take the brown or purple line north to Belmont and walk, especially if they are going to one of the bars, most of which are south of Wrigley and in some cases closer to Belmont. But most people don't know this... I did hear the CTA tell this to riders one time when there was a big backup.

Plus, many Cubs fans go there to not only go to the game, but enjoy the nightlife, which causes them not to drive. I think there is less of that for the Sox.

Any other "Yellow Liners" notice that there is now a sign posted in a vacant lot beside the tracks, across from the Skokie Tech. Ctr. that says it is the site for a new Yellow Line station? When did that get put up? So has that actually been approved?

Actually, I believe Kevin is a Pirates fan. I'm sure he'll be along to correct me if I'm wrong.

Don't tell anyone because I'm a Sox fan, but I have the Cubs home schedule on my Google calendar so I know when the games are and can avoid the area/curse at them for screwing up my commute.

It really wasn't awful last night getting past Wrigley Field. I suspect a lot of people with tickets to last nights game didn't go because of the weather. I was shocked they played. I think tonight will be a more normal Cub traffic commute from hell.

"Take a shot"? Puh. Also: Leez. If you really were a Cubs fan, you'd be outraged that they were playing night games at all.

The team is begging the city to let them play twice as many night games during the week, too. The Cubs have no interest in making life better on the north side. We can only hope this is shut down. Their real, traditionalist fans don't want to come out at night.

In the meantime, they're a great excuse to take the lakeshore express buses. I used to spend an hour or two programming all of their night games into my cellphone calendar which would remind me at 4 p.m. of the imminent night game; when I reached the station, I'd take a southbound past the sweaty, drunk crowd and cross the platform to go back north. But I'd still be surrounded by sweaty drunks, so I moved to the buses and haven't looked back.

"The team is begging the city to let them play twice as many night games during the week, too. The Cubs have no interest in making life better on the north side. We can only hope this is shut down. Their real, traditionalist fans don't want to come out at night."

You mean the ones made famous in the Lee Elia rant? The bums, the 10% that don't have jobs, and the other unmentionable names he calls them? :) Oh man, that rant is hilarious!

A reminder for Wrigley Field visitors:

After the game ends and the "L" flag is flying, it is imperative that you line up with everyone else to use the Addison Red Line station. The Sheridan and Southport stations are located several miles from the ballpark and are unfortunately situated in very bad neighborhoods. That is all.

Metra got money for the 35th Street station in the stimulus package:
http://www.southtownstar.com/news/tridgell/1512590,040609tridgell.article

The Sox have parking and nothing like the collection of bars, etc. in the neighborhood as Wrigley. The one time I arrived early, I learned that they don't even open the gates until an hour or so before game time. We got back on the Red Line and went to Chinatown for dinner as there is nothing right by the park like there is on the North Side. And yes, I go to games at both parks.

david, they are building it and have money earmarked for it, so I don't know how much more approved you can get

Mikely:

I can see what you mean as far as Sheridan goes, but why Southport? It isn't the best neighborhood, but it's hardly bad, even by skewed North Side standards.

David,

Info on that new Yellow line stop can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakton_(CTA)

Mikely was being facetious. Neither station is "several miles from the ballpark," and there's nothing wrong with the neighborhood around Sheridan anyhow.

The walk to Sheridan or Southport is also uphill both ways.

"It isn't the best neighborhood, but it's hardly bad, even by skewed North Side standards."

Now THAT is hilarious. Yep, that Southport corridor's gettin' there but it's still a little rough around the edges (only 37 coffee shops, 14 Irish bars, etc.).

I assume mikely is being ironic, and simply trying to avoid Sheridan and Southport being clogged up with suburbanites.

WRT the Orange and Yellow extensions, is the CTA going to relocate the Midway station so that it's actually, you know, in the same hemisphere as the airport terminal? As it stands now, you come out of the terminal, and there is the Orange Line yard in front of you, and if you have the Mt. Palomar Telescope with you, it's just possible to make out the station somewhere in the constellation Aries or so.

I dunno Mikely. No doubt Ethel's Chocolate Lounge was the linchpin holding the Southport corridor together. Now that they're out, it's already starting to look like "I Am Legend" down there.

The last time I went to Blue Bayou, I had to run as fast as I could down Grace between Clark and Southport because that whole area's been taken over by roving gangs of thugs in North Face fleece vests. I was lucky to make it out of there alive. I knew it was all over as soon as the 15th doggie boutique opened.

DBX,

The walk from the Midway Station turnstiles to the airline ticket area is about 1,000 feet. About twice the length of a full CTA train or the full length of a Metra train. It's about the same distance as the walk from the O'Hare turnstiles to the ticketing areas at Terminals 1, 2, or 3, and much shorter than the maximum walk between between check in counters and gates at either airport (about 1,700 feet).

That doesn't seem too unreasonable in an airport context -- especially since the entire walk is climate controlled and well signed.

The Orange Line station was sited where it is to facilitate future extension. Moving it closer to the terminal would have made extending the line a much more costly proposition.

DBX,

"simple" is correct. The entire walk from the Midway station to the airport ticketing area is climate controlled. In winter, it's designed to feel like the climate of Phoenix on August 3rd - roughly 100 degrees with 0% humidity so that the moisture is completely sucked out of your already chapped skin. Hot, dry-air fans have been installed at intervals to enhance the effect. In summer, the climate is controlled to be like a humid slightly-below-grade-level garage, with the same light scent of wet motor oil on concrete.

They've also made improvements since the early days of the new terminal, when the walk from the Orange Line sent you through the waiting line for an IDOT emissions testing facility. It's much nicer now. You walk through an area where they're testing the durability of different brands of off-white paint when subjected to foot traffic, and you really only get the smell of paint thinner on those days when they're entering a new phase of the experiment; then you make brief passage through Alderman George Cardenas's household utility closet before emerging into the airport in all its glory.

I don't know why anyone wouldn't think that the city had done everything it could to encourage people to use this route. They've clearly spared no expense.

hilarious!

DBX,

The 1 time I flew out of Midway and took the Orange line, I found the walk quite far. It also did not have people movers. Also, I had to keep walking through doors I had to open, and there was little signage. It's stupid how many doors I had to open, considering nearly everyone taking that will have luggage. But the lack of signs was more troubling, because I had little idea where I was going. Now, this was probably in 2006-7, so perhaps they've improved things since then. Compared to O'Hare, it's nowhere as convenient.

I've been out to Midway a few times lately, and IIRC the only set of doors you need to manually open are the glass doors leading from the L station to the bus terminal/airport pedway. There's another set of doors leading into the actual airport, but they are equipped with motion detectors and open automatically.

There are a few other sets of doors along the way, fire doors I guess, but when I've been there they've always been open. Perhaps some prankster closed them all when you were there, Chris, but that's not the normal state of affairs these days.

Additionally, I think the signage has improved since you've been there, Chris. I don't ever remember encountering any confusion.

There is also one set of people movers on the pedway. In my opinion, another stretch or two of moving sidewalk would be appropriate. Definitely O'Hare is preferable in this regard.

It would also be nice if there was a down escalator by the stairs leading into the station from the pedway. There is an elevator there, but for able-bodied people with luggage, an escalator would be more convenient.

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