WBEZ | trains http://www.wbez.org/tags/trains Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Final phase of Ventra rollout suspended, developer apologizes http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ventra.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago commuters will be able to hold on to those old Chicago Cards and magnetic strip cards for a little while longer. Chicago Transit Authority officials announced the the final phase of the new <a href="http://ventrachicago.com/">Ventra </a>system&rsquo;s rollout will be suspended until a few of its problems are fixed. Chicago Cards and Chicago Card Plus were supposed to be phased out by November 15.</p><p dir="ltr">CTA President Forrest Claypool also said the agency won&rsquo;t pay the developer, Cubic Transportation Systems, any of the $454 million, 12-year contract, until the company meets three criterion: customer service wait times must be five minutes or less, processing times for the tap-and-go function of a Ventra card must be under two and a half seconds--99 percent of the time--and all readers and vending machines must be operational 99 percent of the time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The bottom line is that too many of our customers are confused and frustrated and that&rsquo;s our fault,&rdquo; Claypool told members of the City Club at a luncheon Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic&rsquo;s head of North American operations, Richard Wunderle, was on hand to answer some questions as well.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This transition period wasn&rsquo;t our shining light, and for that I want to apologize to the riders of CTA,&rdquo; said Wunderle. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t our best effort but it will get better, so I apologize for that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic isn&rsquo;t new to the public transit game: They&rsquo;ve got 400 fare-collection projects in operation across the world, including systems in Sydney, London and Washington, D.C. But the Ventra system marks the first time the company&rsquo;s tackled an open-fare, contactless card system; and officials say it&rsquo;s the first of its kind in North America.</p><p dir="ltr">Wunderle said Cubic engineers are already at work on a number of fixes to get things up to speed.</p><p dir="ltr">One issue that&rsquo;s drawn many complaints from CTA riders is being charged for multiple taps of their Ventra card at the turnstile. Officials say customers would tap their card, and after not immediately seeing a green &ldquo;Go&rdquo; signal, they&rsquo;d tap multiple times or move to a different lane. As of Tuesday, Cubic said they added a new &ldquo;processing&rdquo; screen to show riders the system is working before it lets them through. Engineers will also be upgrading the Ventra software over the weekend to try and bring processing times down on card readers to two-and-a-half seconds or less. CTA officials said that&rsquo;s happening 95 percent of the time--but the other 5 percent of the time, processing times varied from three to 10 seconds, sometimes more.</p><p dir="ltr">Claypool said the issue that&rsquo;s upset him the most is the long wait times for callers trying to reach a customer service agent, calling it a &ldquo;self-inflicted wound.&rdquo; The CTA chief said on one day last month, the center was overwhelmed with 20,000 calls. Some customers couldn&rsquo;t get through to an agent at all, while others waited, and waited - in some cases, for more than 30 minutes. Cubic has hired more customer service agents since then, and plans to expand further.</p><p dir="ltr">No timeline has been set for when the Ventra rollout will continue. Wunderle said he can&rsquo;t really give a &ldquo;best guess&rdquo; how long it will take the company to address the CTA&rsquo;s three benchmarks, only estimating &ldquo;weeks&rdquo; when pressed by a reporter.</p><p dir="ltr">Other interesting Ventra facts:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The entire Ventra contract lasts 12 years: The two years allotted for engineering the system are almost up. The next 10 years of the contract will be for the service.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Cubic paid $92 million up front toward the transition: installing card readers, vending machines, call center operations, etc.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">CTA lawyers will be looking into how many fares they&rsquo;ve missed because of bus drivers waving people through when there seemed to be problems with the Ventra card</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">50 percent of CTA riders are now using Ventra cards</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Card readers will now display a &ldquo;low balance&rdquo; screen that lets customers know their Ventra card balance is under $10</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 From the archives: LaHood says 'no stopping' high speed rail http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/archives-lahood-says-no-stopping-high-speed-rail-105724 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/high%20speed%20rail%20quinn%20lahood%20AP%20small.jpg" style="height: 460px; width: 620px;" title="Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, on a high speed rail test run in October of 2012. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77461272&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation-secretary-ray-lahood-leave-administration-105193">leave his post in the Obama administration</a> earlier this week. &quot;I have had a good run,&rdquo; the former Illinois Congressman and Peoria native told the Associated Press. &ldquo;I&#39;m one of these people who believe that you should go out while they&#39;re applauding.&rdquo;</p><p>During his tenure in Washington, LaHood struggled with Congress to pass funding for major infrastructure projects, and eventually compromised with them on a two-year plan, dubbed <a href="http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/">MAP 21</a>, that gave states more flexibility in spending federal dollars. He also brought greater attention to hazards like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ray-lahood/distracted-driving-a-dead_b_555810.html">distracted driving</a>, and tried to put <a href="http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/03/lahood-policy-statement/">pedestrians and cyclists on equal footing with drivers</a>, earning him accolades from many alternative transportation advocates.</p><p>But one of LaHood&rsquo;s biggest efforts was his promotion of high speed rail. At an urban policy forum held in Chicago in December, LaHood told the audience that &ldquo;every generation does something big for the next generation,&rdquo; and that high speed rail would be our generation&rsquo;s gift to the next.</p><p>In <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/ray-lahood-interview-high-speed-rail_n_2576995.html">an exit interview with the <em>Huffington Post</em></a>, LaHood admitted that he felt behind on this quest, but insisted that he and his administration had still &ldquo;come a long way.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;As long as President Obama is in the White House, whoever sits in this chair will have high-speed rail as one of their top priorities,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>You can take a closer listen to LaHood&rsquo;s earlier remarks on high speed rail &ndash; and his insistence at its inevitability &ndash; in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from </em><em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a></em><em> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Ray LaHood spoke at an event presented at the UIC Urban Forum in December of 2012. He was interviewed by Steve Schlickman, Executive Director of the UIC Urban Transportation Center. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 10:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/archives-lahood-says-no-stopping-high-speed-rail-105724 From the archives: LaHood says 'no stopping' high speed rail http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/archives-lahood-says-no-stopping-high-speed-rail-105308 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/high%20speed%20rail%20quinn%20lahood%20AP%20small.jpg" style="height: 460px; width: 620px;" title="Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, on a high speed rail test run in October of 2012. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77461272&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation-secretary-ray-lahood-leave-administration-105193">leave his post in the Obama administration</a> earlier this week. &quot;I have had a good run,&rdquo; the former Illinois Congressman and Peoria native told the Associated Press. &ldquo;I&#39;m one of these people who believe that you should go out while they&#39;re applauding.&rdquo;</p><p>During his tenure in Washington, LaHood struggled with Congress to pass funding for major infrastructure projects, and eventually compromised with them on a two-year plan, dubbed <a href="http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/">MAP 21</a>, that gave states more flexibility in spending federal dollars. He also brought greater attention to hazards like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ray-lahood/distracted-driving-a-dead_b_555810.html">distracted driving</a>, and tried to put <a href="http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/03/lahood-policy-statement/">pedestrians and cyclists on equal footing with drivers</a>, earning him accolades from many alternative transportation advocates.</p><p>But one of LaHood&rsquo;s biggest efforts was his promotion of high speed rail. At an urban policy forum held in Chicago in December, LaHood told the audience that &ldquo;every generation does something big for the next generation,&rdquo; and that high speed rail would be our generation&rsquo;s gift to the next.</p><p>In <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/ray-lahood-interview-high-speed-rail_n_2576995.html">an exit interview with the <em>Huffington Post</em></a>, LaHood admitted that he felt behind on this quest, but insisted that he and his administration had still &ldquo;come a long way.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;As long as President Obama is in the White House, whoever sits in this chair will have high-speed rail as one of their top priorities,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>You can take a closer listen to LaHood&rsquo;s earlier remarks on high speed rail &ndash; and his insistence at its inevitability &ndash; in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from </em><em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a></em><em> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Ray LaHood spoke at an event presented at the UIC Urban Forum in December of 2012. He was interviewed by Steve Schlickman, Executive Director of the UIC Urban Transportation Center. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 02 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/archives-lahood-says-no-stopping-high-speed-rail-105308 More rail work planned between Chicago, St. Louis http://www.wbez.org/news/more-rail-work-planned-between-chicago-st-louis-100054 <p><p>Rail upgrades needed for faster train journeys between Chicago and St. Louis will start north of Bloomington this weekend.</p><p>Work on part of the Amtrak route in the region will begin Saturday.</p><p>Improvements will include new premium rail with concrete ties and stone ballast. Upgrades will also be made to bridges, culverts and drainage.</p><p>The disruption will require chartered buses and connecting Amtrak train service for passengers on the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle.</p><p>The work is to make way for an increase in speed to 110 mph from the current 79 mph.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to preview the higher speeds in September along a short section from Pontiac to Dwight.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-rail-work-planned-between-chicago-st-louis-100054 Photos: Chicago's trains get an upgrade; Check out CTA's new 'L' cars http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-11-09/photos-chicagos-trains-get-upgrade-check-out-ctas-new-l-cars-93906 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/6327130654_9ab20bf058_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Tuesday, the Chicago Transit Authority says more than 700 new rail cars are being added to the city's "L" trains.</p><p>WBEZ's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-start-installing-new-rail-cars-el-trains-93871">Michell Elloy reported </a>on Wednesday, that the new, more energy-efficient 5000 series rail cars will have wider aisle, sideways seating and LED maps.&nbsp;The new cars will also be equipped with security cameras that will transmit video to CTA's control center, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the Chicago Police Department.</p><p>The CTA <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctaweb/">posted photos</a> of the new 5000 series rail cars that commuters can look forward to.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6211/6327129938_9342999d0f_z.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px;" title="(Flickr/cta web)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6106/6327128684_2e7e142d92_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 401px;" title="(Flickr/cta web)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6040/6327130654_9ab20bf058_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="(Flickr/cta web)"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6240/6327127180_1386e30059_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 401px;" title="(Flickr/cta web)"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6057/6327126482_cab71dcb54_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 403px;" title="(Flickr/cta wb)"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6105/6326374121_a2c6442791_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 401px;" title="(Flickr/cta web)"></p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 18:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-11-09/photos-chicagos-trains-get-upgrade-check-out-ctas-new-l-cars-93906 Englewood Flyover to take aim at rail congestion http://www.wbez.org/story/englewood-flyover-take-aim-rail-congestion-93015 <p><p>A project aimed with halting one of the region’s worst rail logjams broke ground Monday on Chicago’s South Side.</p><p>The so-called Englewood Flyover will cost $133 million. Organizers hope it will ease congestion near 63<sup>rd</sup> and State Street, an area that sees an average of 14 Amtrak, 78 Metra and 46 freight trains battle for space each day.</p><p>The Englewood Flyover will build a bridge to carry the three Metra Rock Island District Line tracks over the four Norfolk-Southern freight tracks. The bridge — to be completed by 2014 — will also allow for expanded Amtrak service around the Midwest.</p><p>Several politicians gathered near the flyover site on Monday morning. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the project will create 1,500 jobs.</p><p>“What does it mean when freight traffic and passenger traffic can move through this city more quickly? More jobs. Not just the jobs in building this project but the reputation of Illinois as the crossroads of the nation,” Durbin said.</p><p>The funding sources include $126 million from the federal government and more than $6 million from the state’s Illinois Jobs Now program. The Englewood Flyover is also part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (<a href="http://createprogram.org/">CREATE</a>,) an effort that is supposed to modernize local rail operations, reduce harmful emissions and ease highway congestion.</p><p>Nearby resident Bob Israel, a union laborer, showed up at the groundbreaking with skepticism.</p><p>“It’s just a dog-and-pony show — trust me,” Israel said.</p><p>“We’ve been hearing about this CREATE program for 10-15 years. They say they’re going to hire from the community but I’ve been hearing this for years,” Israel said. He likened it to the Dan Ryan Expressway project, which Israel said didn’t do a good job of community hiring.</p><p>At the press conference, Israel asked Quinn who would ensure that the Englewood Flyover project would employ community residents.</p><p>Quinn didn’t give an answer.</p></p> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 18:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/englewood-flyover-take-aim-rail-congestion-93015 Transit union fights back against CTA budget claims http://www.wbez.org/story/transit-union-fights-back-against-cta-budget-claims-92825 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-04/cta trains_flickr_mikemiley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The head of the union representing Chicago Transit Authority rail workers says he doesn't believe union members are completely to blame for CTA budget problems.</p><p>CTA president Forrest Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-facing-huge-budget-shortfall-2012-92812">said Tuesday</a> that the agency is short $277 million heading into 2012, due to union contracts he said give workers the highest cost-adjusted salaries in the nation.</p><p>"I have openly said I will sit down and talk about any and every issue and put it on the table," said ATU Local 308 president Robert Kelly. "Doesn't mean we're going to give it up, but we'll talk about it, we'll see what we can do to help. I understand today's economy, I know it's bad out there. But fighting this in the media is not going to be a winning situation for anybody."</p><p>Claypool also criticized the employee absenteeism rates, which he said cost the CTA $40 million in 2011. But Kelly refuted that the number could be that large, and said he was disappointed that he hadn't been told about the CTA's interest in changing work rules.</p><p>"We do not deny there is an absenteesm problem, we can't control that," said Kelly. But, "We do not hire people. Chicago Transit Authority hires individuals."</p><p>Kelly said he believes he fare hikes are "inevitable"; Claypool wouldn't say whether they should be expected.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/transit-union-fights-back-against-cta-budget-claims-92825 Metra begins probe into train pollution levels http://www.wbez.org/story/diesel-soot/metra-begins-investigation-pollution-levels-trains <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/cityroom_20100917_ssmith_148532_Metr_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Metra has hired an independent firm to check out the air quality on its trains and at Ogilvie Transportation Center. That comes after a report showing diesel soot levels on some trains are extremely high.</p><p>Metra at this point is just conducting its own tests to confirm what the Chicago Tribune found: that passengers were inhaling high levels of diesel soot, particulates in the air from diesel engines, at certain points along train routes. Also, the pollution levels were bad in the Ogilvie train station where trains may sit idling for hours.</p><p>Metra's investigation comes after U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called on the Environmental Protection Agency to look into the pollution levels. Durbin told reporters Metra recently received grant money that would cut down on the amount of idle time.</p><p>Diesel soot can aggravate asthma and has been traced to cancer.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 13:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/diesel-soot/metra-begins-investigation-pollution-levels-trains