Ad: [ ? ]
TODAY

Thursday, November 27

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Merge

Gobble Gobble Gridlock

Chicago's worst Thanksgiving traffic is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, while Saturday is the second worst day to drive, according to the Tribune.

Santa Rides the Bus

This year, the CTA isn't just doing a Holiday Train (whose schedule was just announced) -- there's also a Holiday Bus, a reticulated model coated in Christmas decor, running Dec. 2-23 on various routes.

Rideshare with More Confidence

Lyft and Sidecar both received the first city ridesharing licenses yesterday, certifying that the companies' drivers meet certain training and safety requirements. Uber is still working on their license.

Midway Crash

A small cargo plane that flew into the side of a house near Midway Airport missed the elderly couple inside by a couple of inches. The pilot was killed in the crash.

Hear Something? Say Something

Local legislators are collecting noise complaints about O'Hare Airport. Leave yours at oharenoise.org, at State Senator Kotowski's website or by calling 800-435-9569 or 224-585-9153.

Who is @cta?

The human on the other end of the CTA's Twitter account? Tony Cappoletta.

Fast Forward the El

A video by the CTA gives an engineer's-eye view of the Red Line's entire route. [via]

Batman v. Superman v. Unseasonably Cold Weather

It's not exactly the best time for the cast and crew of superhero flick Batman v. Superman to be filming exterior footage, but that's fall in Chicago for you! Several streets in Uptown are already closed, and will be until Friday. Let's hope those super and bat suits are well insulated.

Graffitti Along the Tracks

Graffiti removal requests to 311 are the densest along the Blue, Pink and Orange Lines of the CTA, tracing diagonals through the Northwest and Southwest sides.

Scary Traffic on Lake Shore Drive

Strong wind gusts knocked over light poles and carried lake waters onto northbound Lake Shore Drive -- so avoid it if you can.

Blooming Potholes

Artist Jim Bachor's latest artistic approach to potholes (previously) is to fill them with flower mosaics.

Cost of Convenience

RadPad maps the rental price of apartments near different El stops across the city.

Screening the El

The CTA will soon randomly search commuters' bags for explosives and swab them for bomb-making residue.

The City's Own Startup

With Hailo no longer available in Chicago, the City is planning to launch its very own taxi hailing app.

Color the Grid

A map coloring streets by orientation illustrates how much easier it is to navigate here than in other cities. [via]

Blue Line Priorities

While aldermen are reviving the idea of an express train between O'Hare and downtown, that money would be better spent speeding up the Blue Line, says RedEye's Tracy Swartz.

Leave Them the El Alone

The Courage Campaign wants to start an advertising campaign to fight harassment of women on the CTA.

Bus Scrums

Buses bunching up on the streets is inevitable, reports Curious City, as delayed buses give more people time to make it to a stop and leave less passengers for the next bus.

A Loophole Big Enough for a Train

Metra claims it already meets a state mandate to accept Ventra cards because tickets can be purchased using them as debit cards.

Look Both Ways

The Active Transportation Alliance used crash data and community input to identify the 10 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Ebola Screening Coming to O'Hare

Officials will take the temperature of passengers arriving at O'Hare from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea starting Thursday.

Pushing Tin Again

The FAA radar center in Aurora that was damaged by fires allegedly set by a worker reopened today.

More to Ride the Rails

Metra officials want to raise fares by more than ten percent on average, the second largest increase in Metra's history, in part to raise funds for new cars and engines.

Uber Cheap

UberX rides in Chicago are cheaper than anywhere else in the country.

Compare Your Commute

The Daily Mail compares snapshots of workers' commutes from around the world, and while commuting via water taxi isn't typical here, the normal traffic definitely beats riding on the outside of a train.

"The system has to be right"

Remember those weird spikes in red light tickets at certain intersections reported earlier this summer? The independent reviewer hired by the city upheld 96 percent of the "spike" tickets.

A Better L

Renovations of the Wilson Red Line stop, viewed by many as the worst in the entire system, begin this month.

Adapting to Uber

Mayor Emanuel's new plan for taxis doesn't increase fares, but it does propose a centralized dispatching system to help them compete with ride-sharing companies.

Riding Dirty

A top official at Chicago Carriage Cab, the city's largest cab company, was indicted for utilizing fake "clean" titles to use previously wrecked cars as taxis.

Giving BRT a Shot

Planned transportation improvements downtown include a bus rapid transit system in the Loop.

More Through ORD

Despite the radar problems, O'Hare just regained its title as the world's busiest airport -- in terms of operations -- for the first time since 2004.

Tough Traveling

Traffic at O'Hare and Midway is still messed up following the arson at an Aurora radar facility, and the FAA hopes to get the facility back up to full service by Oct. 13.

Check the Status of Your Airport

Reacting quickly to this morning's shutdowns, Jeff Lunt created Is Chicago Flying? as a resource for people trying to fly in or out of town today. No doubt it'll come in handy in the future as well.

Arson Shuts Down ORD & MDW

The skies above Chicago were eerily quiet this morning after an intentional fire at an Aurora radar facility closed O'Hare and Midway to flights for several hours. Flights have resumed at a "reduced rate."

Take That, Hoosiers

More parking tickets are left on cars with Indiana license plates than any other out-of-state vehicles.

Print Your Car

The first 3D-printed car was built and driven at the International Manufacturing Technology Show at McCormick Place this weekend.

Your New VentraPhone

Folks with Android phones running the 4.4 KitKat version of the OS can use the phone's near field communication capability to get on the CTA. [via]

Stop for Pedestrians, Dammit

A study by the Active Transportation Alliance finds that only about 18 percent of drivers stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

Golden Age Trains

Passengers will be able to ride from Chicago to Madison on restored rail cars meant to recreate the golden age of train travel.

Life Without Curbs

A "shared street" on Argyle in Uptown will bring the sidewalk and street to the same level, providing more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

Bike Vigilantes

Cyclists tired of bike thefts are taking matters into their own hands, searching for hot rides online and in markets, and setting up sting operations with police.

Flying Hacks

Thrillist offers some useful tips for making the most of your time in O'Hare.

The Pros & Cons of Divvy

On the one hand, we're paying a whole lot to subsidize Divvy. On the other, nobody's died using Divvy or any other US bikeshare service. [via]

Jane Byrne Memorial Spaghetti Bowl

The Circle Interchange will be renamed the Mayor Jane Byrne Interchange by Gov. Quinn on Friday. (Previously.)

Uptight Position

A United flight was forced to make an unplanned landing at O'Hare after two passengers clashed over a device that keeps seats from reclining.

Uber Fan

Gov. Quinn vetoed a bill that would have imposed new regulations on ridesharing services like UberX, Sidecar and Lyft.

Transit Dollars at Work

IDOT is in hot water for patronage hiring. Meanwhile, CTA pension officials held important meetings far from the city -- in Hawaii, New Orleans and Las Vegas.

Expansions to Make Divvy Largest Bike Share System in North America

Divvy announced a 175 station expansion to take place in Spring 2015, giving Chicago the most bike share stations and largest service area in North America with a total of 475 stations that cover 87 square miles.

Cutting the Tree to Swipe the Bike

A thief cut down a tree in Wicker Park in order to steal the bike attached to it.

Commence Itching in 3, 2, 1...

A video of what appears to be bedbugs crawling on a Red Line train seat is circulating on social media. The CTA says it hasn't received any reports, but would pull train cars for decontamination if notified. [via]

Tossing Tickets Out

A judge told city officials he has been dismissing 70 percent of red light camera ticket cases, saying cameras or lights are often set up incorrectly, including yellow lights taking less than the three seconds required by law.

New Blues

Major renovations of the Damen, California, and Western stations on the Blue Line will force them to close for several weeks starting in September.

Say Howdy, Stranger

A study found people who talked to strangers on the train were happier, so why not look up from that smartphone and say "hi?"

Transit Deserts

Many people in Cook County are spending excessive amounts of time traveling to low-paying jobs, according to a study, with about one in ten lacking fast and frequent access to buses and trains.

Green for the Red Line

Congress approved a $35 million grant for the CTA to rebuild the Red and Purple lines.

Check Your Sense of Humor

United Airlines hopes a "humorous" inflight safety video will attract passengers' attention; I still think this guy did it better.

Getting to the Bottom of Ventra

GB's own Jason Prechtel is suing the CTA for violating FOIA law by not providing documents related to the Ventra contracting process. Read his coverage of Ventra in Mechanics.

We'll Travel in Tubes

Chicago Magazine takes a look at the many visions of the future of transit in Chicago, including light rail, a bicycle superskyway, and expanded El lines, which Craig Berman once envisioned with a CTA Map for 2055.

Must be Pothole-Proof

Design company Minimal and frame builder Garry Alderman teamed up to build the "ultimate bike for Chicago," the BLACKLINE.

A Lane of Their Own

Plans for the city's first barrier-protected bike lane place it along Clybourn Avenue in Old Town.

Divvying Up the City

Take a look at last year's Divvy ridership, mapped by distance and destination by data scientist Gabriel Gaster. [via]

Cyclist Sting

Mechanics from area bike shops are posing as buyers to help police catch bicycle thieves.

Riding the Punch Line

A local writer and improviser is raising money on Kickstarter to use ad space on the Red Line to tell jokes.

Red Flags

Aldermen are calling on the city's top watchdog to investigate unexplained spikes in ticketing by red light cameras uncovered by a Chicago Tribune investigation.

Parking Peril

Thieves target cars parked in Lincoln Park and Humboldt Park for more smash-and-grab robberies than other neighborhoods, police statistics show.

Find a Free Spot

Meter Beaters is an iOS app that shows meter-free parking spaces in the city, primarily North Side and downtown. [via]

Sympathy for Sidewalk Cyclists

While it's illegal for anyone over 12 to bike on the sidewalk, inconsistent laws across the state and the country might explain why some people think it's acceptable behavior.

Seeing Red

A Tribune investigation of 4 million tickets issued by red light cameras found some cameras recorded violations in "wild and inexplicable spikes," and a class action lawsuit is demanding the City pay back tens of millions of dollars.

Modern Train Robbery

Two men boarded the Orange Line in broad daylight and held up commuters at gunpoint, robbing them of their wallets, phones and jewelry.

One More City Sticker Reprieve

After yet more glitches caused delays for people who waited till the last minute to get their city sticker yesterday, those people now have until today to purchase them.

The Way We Move

You can see how Chicagoans make their way to work on a map put together by the Sun-Times.

No Bike Lane

A cyclist somehow found their way on to the Kennedy during rush hour Thursday evening, though there are no reports on whether they were riding a Divvy or not.

Squeezing Milwaukee

When construction on Milwaukee Ave. crept out into the street, drivers, cyclists, the City, and reporters at Streetsblog were forced to sort the whole mess out.

Cultural Crossroads

Curious City looks at Chicago's role as a transportation hub for Amish people living throughout the Midwest.

Parking Fail

Hundreds of people who paid for parking using the ParkChicago app were ticketed despite having time left on their meters.

Stand by Your Bike

The Curbee bicycle footrest was just installed at Milwaukee and Ogden to help cyclists waiting at red lights.

To Catch a Bike Thief

A cyclist stopped a thief from stealing a bike wheel in Logan Square last night, and shared his photo on TheChainlink -- where the community ID'ed him, found his Facebook page and discovered a pattern of bike theft.

Let'em Cross

The police and CDOT began a series of crosswalk stings yesterday, ticketing drivers who cut off pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

City Sticker Saving Grace

If you didn't get your new city sticker in time, you now have a little more time. The city clerk extended the deadline to buy a sticker until July 7, and the grace period for not having a sticker until July 15.

Door Closing on Chicago Cards

The CTA's full transition to Ventra starts on Tuesday, when old transit cards will no longer be accepted.

Dividing Division

Heads up: The Division Street bridge will be closed today for demolition; the new bridge will open in October.

Quickest Ways to Get Around

Find out which mode of transportation is the fastest for getting from where you are to anywhere else in the city on a map by the You Are Here project. [via]

Blue Line Blues

A power outage shut down a Blue Line track between LaSalle and Western, forcing trains in both directions to share a single track and delaying some commuters for two hours.

Carmageddon II: Car Harder

Construction on the Ohio Street bridge continues this weekend, but this time northbound lanes on the Kennedy will be closed heading into the Loop, causing trouble for drivers coming from the South Side.

In Case of Emergency, Follow the Disco Lights

A Southwest flight attendant delivered a funny, surprisingly memorable speech to kick of a flight from San Francisco to Chicago.

Steer Clear of Carmageddon

A section of the Kennedy will be shut down this weekend as crews demolish the Ontario Street Bridge, so it's probably best to avoid it completely.

Backyard Car Fire

Someone set eight cars on fire in Wrigleyville, similar to another recent incident where someone torched vehicles in Englewood.

Cycling Challenge

Companies across the city will compete to see whose employees are most willing to pedal their way to work between June 13 and 20 as part of the Bike Commuter Challenge.

Out of Earshot

Hearings held by the FAA on runway changes at O'Hare weren't actually held in areas that will be impacted by increased airplane noise, a Sun-Times investigation found.

Untying Knots Before They Happen

The CTA and IDOT averted traffic disaster later this month by agreeing not to simultaneously close lanes on the Kennedy and shut down the Blue Line for repairs on the same dates.

Plush Pat-Downs

A revamped TSA checkpoint at O'Hare adds couches, wall art, and soothing music to make passing through security more comfortable.

Meter Wars Continue

A public-interest group continues to challenge Chicago's parking meter deal in court, even though the City itself is defending the agreement.

Sayonara, Chicago Card

Chicago Cards will no longer work on the CTA or Pace starting June 1.

Critical Pedicab Mass

Critical Mass is tonight, and this month there's something extra: a protest against the City's new pedicab ordinance.

Divvy in the Red

Divvy posted a loss of $148,000 last year, but the City picked up the tab per its agreement with Alta Bicycle Share Inc.

Divvy Up

Divvy riders took 16,259 trips on Sunday, setting a new single-day record.

Everyone's Going Somewhere

This weekend is one of the busiest, both on the streets and in the sky, so be sure to check your train or the roads before heading out.

Critical Mass

Bike the Drive is this weekend, and over 18,000 people have already signed up to pedal their way down Lake Shore Drive.

We're Walkin' Here

Chicago is one of the safest cities in the country for pedestrians, according to a new study.

A New Line to the Loop

Blackline shuttle service promises a faster trip from the North Side to downtown while offering leather seats, A/C, and WiFi to commuters.

Clearing the Path

In order to extend the Red Line to 130th, the City may have to seize hundreds of parcels of land to make way.

Burying the Drive

A group of Streeterville residents unveiled a plan to bury part of Lake Shore Drive near Oak Street Beach in order to make space for more green areas, beaches, and a man-made island.

Zero, the Unlucky Number

For years, Tom Feddor had to battle Chicago over tickets erroneously issued to his license plate, which is simply 0. Now he's fighting Oak Park.

Blue Line Hero

TSA agent Eddie Palacios will receive an Award for Valor from the Department of Homeland Security for stopping an El train before it hit a woman who fell on to the tracks at the Chicago Ave. Blue Line.

Smoke Delays

Around 1,120 flights were cancelled yesterday when the evacuation of a radar facility halted all flights through Midway and O'Hare.

Smoke Clears the Skies

All flights in and out of O'Hare and Midway were halted after smoke forced workers to evacuate a radar facility in Elgin. UPDATE: The smoke was caused by a bathroom fan, and flights will slowly resume at both airports.

Not Quite a Critical Mass

The number of people who rode a bike to work in Chicago more than doubled in recent years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, only 1.3 percent of workers said they rode a bike to work between 2008-2012.

This Will Go Well

Ventra is answering your questions via Twitter from 2:30 to 3:30 today. The #AskVentra hashtag is already lighting up with abuse.

No Rideshare at O'Hare

No, Uber X can't pick you up at the airport, the City decided yesterday after the company sent a message to drivers telling them how to accept pickups at O'Hare and Midway.

Red Light Irony

While Mayor Emanuel stressed the necessity of speed cameras to keep kids safe, they also caught his own motorcade speeding or running red lights almost two dozen times, according to ABC 7.

Clock Watchdog

The Reader's Ben Joravsky broke out a stopwatch to fact-check Mayor Emanuel's claims that a $320 million Red-Purple Line bypass would save commuters three to four minutes.

Go, Dog, Go

Amtrak will be testing out allowing small dogs and cats on trains between Chicago and Quincy.

Pedi Cash Problems

City Hall is looking to push through new regulations for pedicabs in Chicago, but owners of the pedaled people carriers say new rules and restrictions on where they can go downtown could put them out of business.

1085 Crashes

MIT's You Are Here project mapped all the bicycle accidents in 2012 (the most recent data available). [via]

Watch Them Repair the Circle

As part of the massive Circle Interchange reconstruction project, IDOT is currently rebuilding the Morgan Street bridge. UIC's Urban Transportation Center has installed a webcam so you can watch it happen. [via]

Better Brown Line at a Cost

The CTA announced plans to rehab the Purple and northern Red Line and extend the southern end of the Red Line yesterday, but a proposal to speed traffic at Belmont by creating a Brown Line overpass have Lakeview residents up in arms because it will mean as many as 19 buildings will need to be demolished.

Bridge Ballet

Bridges are going up again as sailboats head upriver towards Chicago's harbors like (very expensive) birds returning for the summer.

Duffle Block

Part of Lake Shore Drive was shut down yesterday after reports of a "suspicious object," but a police robot found nothing dangerous inside the abandoned duffle bag.

Red Line's Future

The CTA announced plans to completely rebuild four Red Line stops and extend the line South from 95th to 130th Street down one of two possible paths.

A Pothole Named Desire

A pothole in Logan Square revealing a piece of metal track beneath the street is like a concrete window into the past, when streetcars shuttled people through the area.

Safer Sidewalks

Wider sidewalks and other changes are coming to a stretch of Devon Avenue previously found to be the most dangerous for pedestrians on the North Side.

Plug the Portable Meter

Starting this week, anyone parking in the West Loop can use a smartphone to pay the meter as part of a test of the new ParkChicago app.

Budding Bike Racks

Divvy is bringing bikes out of winter storage, starting with 700 cycles for the 300 stations around the city.

A Regional Master Plan

Transit Future, a joint project of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Active Transportation Alliance, have announced a vision of a massive public transit overhaul and expansion for the Chicagoland region. It has the support of many civic leaders; now to secure funding.

CTA Trolls Cubs Fans

Yesterday the CTA sent out a notice warning that the Addison Red Line stop would be closed northbound for repairs today, just in time for the Cubs' home opener. Fortunately, it was just a "clerical error" -- the station will be open from 10:50am to 2:45pm.

A Hole Lot of Damage

Over 1,100 claims of vehicle damage caused by potholes were filed at this week's City Council meeting.

The Jacketed Crusader

A man jumped in the path of a Blue Line train and got it to stop before it reached a woman who fell on to the tracks at the Chicago Avenue stop.

Car Stash

Police suspect that dozens of cars at a South Side salvage lot lot may have been stolen by people connected to a towing operation.

Holey Art

Tribune photographer Bill Hogan followed artist Jim Bachor as he filled a pothole in Jefferson Park with a work of tile mosaic art.

Extreme Makeover: Schools Edition

CPS is now accepting suggestions of what to do with all those empty school buildings.

Don't Stop

Chicago Magazine looks at the worst CTA bus stops in all of Chicago.

Spring Cleanup

Public service reminder: Street sweeping starts April 1, and the City is planning to do an aggressive job to start. Use SweepAround.Us to get reminders of when to move your car.

Cost of Competence

While many saw Chicago's red light cameras as an attempt by the City to make money, revenue from them continues to decrease as less and less people are caught by their flashing lights.

What's the Hang Up?

A study observing Chicagoans behind the wheel found one in five of them was using an electronic device, violating the state's ban on talking or texting while driving more frequently than anyplace in Illinois.

You Must Be Lost

Just a guy out for a casual drive on his Segway, on the street, having a nice chat on his cell phone while heading towards Lake Shore Drive.

Parking Meter War Gets Physical

Someone is smashing up parking meters on the North Side.

Extreme Makeover: Blue Line Edition

The CTA's overhaul of the Blue Line starts this weekend, interrupting service between the Logan Square and Western Avenue stops from 10pm Friday until 4am Monday.

A Globetrotter's Guide

Crain's shares some of the lessons learned by jet-setting business types who fly out of O'Hare as they travel around the world.

Get a Ride to 814

Author, artist and former cabbie Dmitry Samarov recently rediscovered his driver code map, from 641 (north of Howard in Rogers Park) to 935 (Hegewisch), that the ride terminals in taxis use.

Actually Ride the Length of the Lakefront Trail

Construction of the much-needed Navy Pier Flyover will start next week. While the lakefront trail is supposed to remain open throughout construction, check out the detours and closures page for updates.

Against All Odds

A man who says he was conceived at the Des Plaines Oasis after his parents went to a Phil Collins concert protested the freeway-spanning stop's permanent closure by chaining himself to the door.

Avoid Lake Shore Drive

Yesterday's standoff on Lake Shore Drive led to chaos on the streets as motorists found ways to get off the road. A fire at Hollywood and Kenmore this morning closed the Hollywood entrance to the Drive during rush hour.

Better Policies for Rideshares?

Facing pressure from legislators, Uber and Lyft have announced "enhanced" insurance policies for their non-taxi drivers.

Ventra Summer

Holdouts be warned, the CTA is finally forcing your hand. Ventra will be the only payment option starting July 1.

Feed the Meter by Phone

The City will test paying meters via a smartphone app later this year, Mayor Emanuel announced Monday. It'll be tested in downtown areas first before being rolled out elsewhere.

So Long, Western Avenue Bridge

Over the weekend, a demolition crew removed the Bloomingdale Trail's Western Avenue bridge so that it can be replaced with the Ashland Avenue bridge in a few weeks. Check out additional photographs on Twitter.

Western Avenue Bridge Demolition

Pothole Accounting

CDOT is auditing streets recently paved by contractors to see if they've been more prone to potholes this winter. (Don't forget to report potholes to help get'em fixed.)

Divvying To/From

Shaun Jacobsen took Divvy's challenge to play with its data and created Divvy Spokes, which shows which neighborhoods people use the service to get to.

Ventra Problem, Vancouver Solution?

Like Ventra, Vancouver's new Cubic-built Compass Card will cost more than many low-income riders and social service agencies can afford. Unlike Ventra, Vancouver agreed to sell discounted-ride packs to agencies last September.

New Buses On The Block

Three hundred new CTA buses will begin hitting CTA bus stops in May, each fully equipped with 10 surveillance cameras and better safety features. The new buses, priced at about $493,000 each, will feature cleaner diesel fuel, bigger windows and "a sleeker body design."

Patching up Pothole Damage

Drivers whose cars are damaged after thunking into one of the city's 600,000 potholes can get money back from the City if they're willing to work for it.

Bike Dash Cams

Cyclists are donning cameras on their helmets and handlebars as they travel around the city as insurance against bad drivers.

New Blue

The first phase of the CTA's $492 million Blue Line renovation will begin in March with track improvements between the Damen and Logan Square stops.

Dibs Destroyers

With most of the roadside snow melting, garbage collectors and other city workers are going to begin throwing away any dibs items left on the streets.

Commute Impossible

A Metra Union Pacific North line train was forced to stop near Rogers Park after passengers noticed someone running around on top of the cars and jumping between the inbound and outbound trains.

Further to Go

The average weekly commute of African American low-wage workers took 70 minutes longer than their white counterparts in 2011, according to a new study.

On Track

Marketplace takes a look at the tech keeping Metra trains running on time (or at least just running), much of it state of the art- back in 1932.

Reading the Streets

"Sneckdowns," the areas where the wintry mix on the streets isn't worn away by traffic, can serve as guides for where bike lanes and sidewalks should go, say some activists.

CTA to Install 4G Service Underground

The CTA is moving forward with a plan to boost phone and data service by installing 4G service in the subway tunnels of the Blue and Red lines later this year. The infrastructure currently in place throughout the 24 miles of tunnel space between the two lines was installed in 2005.

Banning Cars on Magnificient Mile Shot Down

A top aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for a halt to talk of making North Michigan Avenue a motor vehicle free zone, referencing the failed experiment of closing State Street to traffic in 1979.

Uber Issues

Uber is facing a bit of a bumpy road as City Council looks to regulate ridesharing and consumers cry foul over high fares resulting from "surge pricing."

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Road

There's an accident every 36 hours on the Kennedy, not to mention major congestion, so state officials are recommending another lane in each direction between I-190 and Harlem Avenue.

The Waiting City

In December Midway Airport ranked last among U.S. airports for both on-time arrivals and departures, with O'Hare not too far above it in both categories.

Car Wars

Active Transportation Alliance wants to close parts of 20 streets to make them more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, with proposals including a protected bike lane on Clark Street downtown, closing Humboldt Drive in the summer, and turning lightly-used streets into dead ends.

Play with Bike Data

Divvy has released a dataset of the first 750,000 bike rides, and wants you to make something with it. Entries in by March 11.

Parking Piracy

Valet operators with counterfeit parking slips are parking cars in paid spots, causing some drivers to get surprise tickets in the mail.

Permanent Dibs

A water main break on the North Side encased a row of cars parked on the street in ice.

Take a Car to the Cars

Uber is offering free UberX rides to the Chicago Auto Show this week.

Too Much Shoveling and No Fun

A North Center resident got a bit carried away in marking their "dibs" on a parking spot, tacking a sign on to some chairs reading, "I will break your windows if I see your car in this spot."

Mission Accomplished

CTA is satisfied enough with the performance of Ventra that it is going to stop holding back payments to the vendor behind it all, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., and start to move towards an all-Ventra system.

Crossing the Transit Desert

A new study found Chicagoland mass transit systems are doing a poor job moving people throughout the region, with commutes often taking over 90 minutes due to a lack of planning and coordination between the RTA, the CTA, Pace, and Metra.

Snowed In

An NBC5 investigation found at least one block in the city apparently has not been plowed all winter.

See This Man About a Horse

Ald. Ed Burke introduced a proposal to ban horse drawn carriages in Chicago, even while admitting it probably won't go anywhere.

A Bumpy Milestone

The City is set to fill its 100,000th pothole, and you can follow their progress online.

No More Free Rides

Mayor Emanuel is proposing new regulations for ride-sharing companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar, requiring companies to keep closer tabs on drivers, pay a licensing fee, and be more transparent about fares.

For Want of Salt a Street was Lost

After more than 52 inches of snow -- more than double what we usually see by this time --Chicagoland suburbs are running out of road salt, although CDOT says it's still OK.

Crime on the Line

An NBC5 investigation into which El stations have the most crime found the Red Line stop at 95th and Dan Ryan led in the number of violent crimes, while the Red Line's Jackson and State stop had the most thefts, mostly of smartphones and other gadgets.

20 Million Passengers Traveled Through Midway Airport in 2013

A record 20 million passengers traveled through Midway last year, an increase of 5 percent from 2012. O'Hare's passenger traffic grew only slightly.

Where to Pay for Parking

Streetsblog's Steven Vance created a map of all the parking meter pay boxes in the city. [via]

Tragedy on I-94

A Chicago man was among three people killed in a massive pileup on I-94 near Michigan City, Indiana, involving around 46 vehicles, including 15 semi-trailer trucks.

Redflex on the Ropes

A former employee of red light camera company Redflex is blowing the whistle on the company, which the City fired amid a bribery scandal last year. (Redflex is still contracting for some of the city's cameras, though, while Xerox ramps up.)

Bike Share Bankruptcy

Bixi, the Canadian supplier for Divvy, filed for bankruptcy Monday. It shouldn't affect Divvy, though.

Poopin' on the Metro

Cold weather means more feces on CTA trains

The Holey Land

It's pothole season, so if you see one you can report it to using the City's Pothole Tracker or even turn it into a work of art, like one local artist. [via]

Less Friendly Skies

United Airlines is laying off 685 flight attendants as part of a plan to cut $2 billion a year from the airline's budget.

Get Out of a Sticky Situation

A new proposal would make it easier for drivers to get any tickets for not having a city sticker dismissed, so long as they can provide a proof of purchase showing they bought the sticker before the ticket was issued.

Hacking Ventra

An online step-by-step guide shows how to attach your Ventra card to a keychain, so you don't have to fumble with your wallet to get it out.

Hard on Cars

The numerous potholes on city streets means great business for repair shops. You can report any really bad potholes to CDOT online. [via]

Flyover States

A Southwest flight that left Midway airport heading for Branson, Missouri landed at the wrong airport.

Speeding Doesn't Pay ...Yet

The speed cameras near schools and parks fell short of revenue estimates in their first year of operation, bringing in just 2 percent of the $15 million predicted. The City says it's because installation was delayed and the cameras issued warnings for longer than originally planned.

Divvy Up the City Better

While Divvy has all this downtime, they should develop ways to increase density of the service, says Steve Vance.

Ice on the Rails

Over 500 people spent the night on Amtrak trains stranded by ice and snow outside of Chicago.

Tap Here

The CTA says the majority of problems with Ventra cards not being read is due riders not knowing where to tap their cards. So they're adding decals to readers to guide you in.

New Transit Titan

Mayor Emanuel appointed CTA planner Rebekah Scheinfeld as Chicago's new transportation commissioner.

Divvy Temporarily Closes Due to the Weather

You're out of luck if you wanted to use a Divvy bike today. As of noon, the bike sharing program is closed until further notice.

Smiling Skipper Signs Off

CTA train operator Michael Powell, loved by Red Line commuters for his friendly comments, announced his retirement over the train's intercom today.

No Free Rides for Ventra

CTA officials said Ventra's equipment issues gave free rides to over 930,000 people, costing more than $1.2 million in free fares, and the City is seeking reimbursement from Ventra's parent company.

Surfing the Rails

Amtrak will soon offer free wi-fi on trains coming out of Chicago.

Pick Up a Calendar

The 2014 Chicago Cabbie Calendar was put together by local taxi drivers to help fund Cab Drivers for Justice's lawsuit against the City calling for fairer regulation.

Long Lines on the Blue Line

Two consecutive Blue Line trains had mechanical problems this morning, leading to huge crowds on platforms during the morning commute.

Letters About Ventra

Last week, the Tribune ran a letter to the editor about Ventra customer service. This week the call center worker who took the call in question wrote a letter, sharing that she'd been fired for giving correct information and garnering the service "bad press." [via]

Snowy Cycling

The blog Nerd Stew talked to local bike store workers for their tips on how to stay safe and warm while biking in the winter.

GB Gift Guide: Anything CTA

Get that public transportation lover practically anything from the CTA in its online auction [click "Chicago Transit Authority"]. The bizarre range of items includes train speedometers, fare counters, clocks, train driveshafts, a bus stop and even whole L cars.

Ohm'Hare

A small yoga room at O'Hare will give travelers a place to downward dog while they're waiting for a flight.

Never on Sunday

Some aldermen and businesses say the deal Mayor Emanuel made to make parking meters free on Sundays is hurting local businesses because people are leaving their cars in one place longer.

Less Minty-Fresh L

After CTA cuts eliminated morning and afternoon cleaning positions often held by ex-offenders, L train cars will now only be cleaned during the midnight shifts.

Crowdsourced Bike Sources

Divvy is taking your suggestions for where to put the next 175 bike stations they're adding in 2014.

More Green for Blue

The Blue Line is next in line for a major upgrade. Mayor Emanuel announced a four-year, $492 million renovation project that will cut the time it takes to get to O'Hare and add 4G Internet service along the entire route.

Venting About Ventra

WTTW's Chicago Tonight is planning a live town hall where commuters can weigh in on their experience with the CTA's new payment system. [via]

Life in the First Lane

The bike lane on Dearborn tops one ranking of the country's Best Protected Bike Lanes of 2013, while Milwaukee Ave. came in at #7 on the list. [via]

All Aboard

Undocumented immigrants can take the driver's license test and get a temporary license anywhere in Illinois starting today.

Watch for Signs

The winter parking ban starts at 3am Sunday, so be careful where you park Saturday night, or you may end up paying (recently increased) parking tickets or towing fees.

Get on the Holiday Train

The CTA Holiday Train schedule is out -- and the first trips are Friday on the Green and Orange lines.

Get Out of Town

As you'd expect, Chicago ranks in the top 10 worst cities for Thanksgiving holiday traffic, though Weather Channel says it'll be only slightly worse than last year. (Thanks, Dee!)

(No) Free Rides from Ventra

Ventra is granting a temporary reprieve to CTA riders with negative balances on their cards during the transition, letting them still get access to trains and buses, but will eventually send collection agencies for the outstanding amount.

Wells That's Exciting

The long wait is over: the Wells Street bridge is open again downtown. You may now move on with your lives.

Dooring Danger Zone

DNAInfo's Alisa Hauser chronicles yet another dooring incident on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park, a crowded corridor where the dangerous car door vs. cyclist accidents seem to be increasingly common.

Parking Permits by Web

It's now easier to order residential parking permits online from the City Clerk -- just in time to order a stack of day passes for family and friends visiting for the holidays.

Goddess Rides the Red Line (NSFW)

Red Line trains were briefly delayed on Saturday by a nude woman calling herself the "goddess of the train." She verbally and physically attacked riders until police removed her from the train at Granville.

As Chicagoist noted, "maybe these incidents are happening because people aren't getting the quality mental health care they need." Artist Justin Younger took the incident as inspiration for a new painting.

Goddess of the Train - JustinYounger

Lawyers Circle Divvy Bikes

Divvy doesn't provide bike helmets for its riders -- and lawyers have taken note. How long do you think before we can expect helmet vending machines?

Complimentary Upgrades

Keep your eye out for Lufthansa flight attendants around town this week. They're giving out free coffee, limo rides and other stuff as part of an "#UpgradeChicago" marketing campaign.

Ventra Fails Again

Ventra stations malfunctioned at 60 train stations during last night's evening commute, apparently due to a "server failure," adding to the pile of problems with the system. In Mechanics, Jason Prechtel gives an overview of the troubles Ventra parent company Cubic has had with systems in other cities. Meanwhile, the Chicago Reporter dug further into Cubic's military and intelligence connections.

Where No Divvy Has Gone Before

At the end of August, one very unfortunate Divvy bike rider found herself in about the wrongest place possible: the left lane on northbound Lake Shore Drive during the afternoon rush. [via]

More Questions than Answers

CTA has released surveillance footage of a woman who boarded the Blue Line Nov. 1 with a baby alligator who was found later that day hiding under an escalator at O'Hare. At least, I hope it's the same baby alligator.

No Saw Required

Cyclists securing their rides to road signs or "sucker poles" are easy prey for thieves, who pull these anchors out of the ground and ride off on the bike, lock still attached.

Profiting on Failure

When CTA turnstiles accidentally charge your debit card instead of your Ventra card, double-charge you or any number of errors, Metabank earns interest on the collected cash. Just one of several ways the company is making money off the more than fares.

Chi Bikes a Lot

A federal grant will help the City build 75 more Divvy stations next year, potentially making it the largest bike-sharing program in North America.

The Biking Transportation Wonk

What will be the legacy of outgoing transportation chief Gabe Klein? John Greenfield evaluates. (Previously.)

CTA to Drop Ventra Requirement?

Rumors are swirling that CTA will announce today that riders will not be required to transition to the error-plagued Ventra system, and can continue to use the current Chicago Card Plus/farecard system.

Ventra Woes

Aldermen are calling for City Council hearings on CTA's Ventra card rollout problems.

Gabe Klein Rides Off into the Sunset

Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein is resigning, effective the end of November.

Reimagining the CTA

At the Beachwood Reporter, Natasha Julius offers some suggestions on how to re-do public transportation in Chicago. Step one, kill Metra. (Craighton Berman's CTA map for 2055 is also worth another look.)

Shivering Divvy

Divvy bikes will be available throughout the winter, except during severe weather.

Honoring Bobby Cann

Today at 1pm, the section of Clybourn Avenue near Larrabee will be renamed Bobby Cann Way, in honor of the cyclist who was hit by a drunk driver and killed in May. Tonight is also Critical Mass, and the route will likely swing past to pay respects.

New South Shore Route

A new two-mile stretch of South Shore Drive, through the old US Steel South Works site, opens to the public this weekend. If Dave Matthews ever brings his Caravan back to Chicago, it'll now be easier to get to. [Previously]

Neighborly Advice

Deadspin shares a note left by a Chicago driver on the windshield of his neighbor's truck, telling him he's "parking like an a-hole," but in a nice way.

Fee Rides

Aldermen are playing with the idea of making bicyclists buy a $25-a-year license and take a safety course to ride in the city.

A Drive Down Memory Lane

WCIU put together a short documentary about the history of Wacker Drive, from its inception by Daniel Burnham to the movies filmed on the two-tiered road. [via]

The Mean Streets

Is ridesharing like prostitution? That's the allegory made by a writer in the Chicago Dispatcher, the city's paper for cabbies.

Truck Ruins Red Line South Debut

A truck crashed through the median wall on the Dan Ryan and landed on the Red Line tracks near 68th Street last night, damaging the third rail less than 24 hours after the southern portion of the line reopened after months of construction. Trains are being routed around the accident on the single northbound track.

Beware, Users of the Bloomingdale Trail

Now that the Bloomingdale Trail's construction is well underway, the police warn they will actually arrest people who head up on the tracks.

ORD Adds Capacity

The new runway at O'Hare opens today, allowing planes to take off or land as often as every 15 seconds.

South Red Line Reopens Sunday

The CTA's Red Line South project is nearly complete, and the line will reopen on Oct. 20 -- on time and on budget. Meanwhile, a construction manager has been chosen for the 95th Street Terminal reconstruction.

On the Rails, Off the Rails

Enthusiasm for trains seems to be high in Chicago, with 3.5 million people taking Amtrak last year, but Steve Rhones says amidst ongoing controversies, Metra should be done away with (the organization, not the trains).

It's Almost Time for the South Lake Shore Drive Extension

Starting October 27, you'll be able to travel from Rainbow Beach to 92nd Street on the brand new US-41 extension through the former United States Steel site. The Trib has a great aerial photograph of the road, and an earlier aerial is embedded after the break.

United States Steel South Works, US-41 Construction Aerial

Speed Cameras a Future Money Maker

The nine speed cameras the City has installed so far have already caoght nearly 205,000 speeders since Aug. 27. They're giving out warnings for now, but those busts would have netted $13.9 million in fines.

One is Enough

A local company is hoping electric unicycles will catch on with commuters looking to shorten that trip from the L to the office. [via]

CTA Reverses Course

The CTA announced today that it will continue to allow passengers to add money to the old Chicago Cards and magnetic strip passes while they fix the many, many problems with Ventra.

Ham-tastic Transit

With all of the hair-pulling over Ventra transition chaos, keep in mind it could be even stickier. We could have Transit Ham.

Cap is Not Locked In

With a revised price tag of $60 million per block, building a park over the Kennedy Expressway on the Near West Side may be a bit too expensive for the City.

Music Training

Pullman Rail Journeys, which runs vintage Pullman railcars on Amtrak's City of New Orleans line, will have musicians from the Old Town School of Folk Music performing on some trips.

Big Day in Ventra Transition

Today's a significant milestone in the transfer to Ventra cards: CTA Tattler reports that magnetic stripe cards will no longer be sold at CTA stations, and Chicago Card users will no longer be able to put money on their cards. (Chicago Card Plus users still have some time to auto-load their cards.)

Look to the $kies

Officials finalized locations for the first 11 100-feet-tall electronic billboards Mayor Emanuel touted as a new source of revenue for the City.

The End of Eye Contact

There won't be any need to put down that smartphone during your commute -- unless you're driving -- once 4G wireless service comes to underground El lines.

Ventra Overload

Lots of people still haven't received their new Ventra card from the CTA (I finally got mine on Tuesday). One guy got more than a hundred.

Fewer Red Light Cams Soon

The City announced it is pulling 18 red light cameras from intersections around the town, just as the new speed cameras start issuing tickets instead of warnings.

Imagination Station

City officials hope their wavy, modern vision of a CTA stop at Washington-Wabash will encourage more people to take the El downtown.

Your Fellow Commuters

State troopers pulled over people texting while driving on the Kennedy during Monday's morning commute. Between 7am and 9:30am they ticketed 135 people.

Blue Line Crash

An apparently-empty Blue Line train collided head-on with another train stopped at the Harlem stop this morning, sending dozens of people to the hospital.

Green Light for Red Light Suit

A 3-year-old lawsuit challenging the legality of Chicago's red light cameras will be heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Don't Forget Your Helmet

While it may be impossible to tell if biking is more dangerous than other ways of getting round the city, it gets less scary with experience and if you stick to bike lanes.

Bridges Up & Out

The fall bridge lift schedule commences Wednesday; be ready for morning delays as sailors bring their boats in for storage. Meanwhile, the Grand Avenue Bridge is closed for the next two weeks for emergency repairs.

06C to LSD

A small plane flying out of Schaumburg made an emergency landing on Lake Shore Drive Sunday. If only Meigs were still there...

LSDlandng
Photograph by GB flickr pool contributor shrosa814.

Going the Distance

The City estimates riders pedaled over a million miles on Divvy bikes since the program launched a couple months ago- far enough to pedal to the moon and back, twice.

Don't Get My Bad Side, Bro

Illinois State Troopers will soon be carrying video-capturing Tasers when they make traffic stops.

Ride-share for Free

Uber's ridesharing service, UberX, is free this coming weekend, if you use the coupon code #CHILOVESuberX. There's also a bunch of other free stuff attached.

Stay Off the Tracks for El's Sake

The CTA is reminding commuters to stay off the tracks following an increase in on-track fatalities and reported cases of people jumping down from platforms, often to retrieve their phones or other belongings.

United States of X: High Speed Rail Edition

According to this map from the California Rail Map, travel from Chicago to New York would take about six hours by high speed rail, and about 12 hours to LA. [via]

Ventra Gotchas

Yesterday, Kevin O'Neil detailed the steps you need to take to activate your new Ventra card (carefully read the emails that the CTA is sending you!). More concerning is RedEye's report that Ventra readers can also read your ATM card, so don't be keeping your Ventra card in your wallet!

Who's Backing Lyft?

Ridesharing services like Sidecar and Lyft tout $1 million insurance policies that cover their drivers, but actually seeing a copy of the policy is practically impossible -- and participating in the services could put drivers' own insurance coverage at risk.

United Launches Accidental Super Sale

United Airlines' online ticketing system was letting customers book free flights yesterday afternoon, due to an error on the part of some employee who is no doubt now fired. United says it hasn't decided yet whether to honor the free flights.

Move That Bus

Buses will now make a special stop at the new super Walmart in Pullman, after Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Beale criticized the CTA for not extending service to the store in time for its grand opening.

Litterbugs Beware

A new ordinance passed by City Council increases fines up to $1,500 for throwing trash from car windows and gives police the ability to impound vehicles of drivers caught littering.

Bike Safety is Paramount

The Paramount Room at Kinzie and Milwaukee has set up a bike repair station to help passing commuters -- and encourage them to pop inside for a drink or bite.

Bike Share Leaderboard

See how your Divvy Bikes use compares to other riders with Divvy Brags.

Crackdown on Sidewalk Biking

In an effort to reduce sidewalk collisions, a City Council committee advanced a proposal to raise fines for cyclists caught riding on sidewalks to $200.

Fifty Shades of CTA

Not spotted on that Transit Readings blog we linked to last week: Fifty Shades of Grey. Looks like he just got to that one part.

Outfox the Cameras -- Maybe

The latest version of the Cobra iRadar iOS app has been updated with the locations of the 50 speed cameras around town.

"The RULES are to be quiet in the car!"

A man claiming to be a member of the Board of Trade recently got into a fight with another passenger in a Metra quiet car after talking on his phone. Not sure how being a trader qualifies someone to "cut you in half."

NSFW audio, so put your headphones on.

Midway Stays Public

The Emanuel administration canceled privatization plans for Midway Airport after one of two bidders dropped out of the running. The Trib provides a history of the city's first major airport.

Rerouting Transit

A proposal aimed at reforming local public transit amid ongoing scandals would merge the Metra, CTA, and Pace planning departments, potentially saving millions of dollars.

Beep Beep, Here Comes the Bus

Wondering why your bus stop started beeping? It's a feature, not a bug.

Watch Your Speed -- They Are

In case you missed the news on Friday, Mayor Emanuel announced locations for the next 50 speed cameras to be placed around the city. Here's a map.

Your City Streets

CDOT launched a new portal, Chicago Complete Streets, that hopes to make better sense of all the projects the department is currently working on or planning.

Pay Those Tolls

The Illinois Tollway Authority posted a list of 157 "super scofflaws," individuals and companies that have racked up the most non-payments on Chicago-area tollways. Eight have more than $100,000 in unpaid tolls and fines. Not surprisingly, the list is generating some complaints from those on it.

Illinois Tollway Super Scofflaw List by Gapers Block

No Free-Pass for Toll Skippers

The Illinois Tollway will begin publicly shaming the "Top 100 Toll Violators" who owe the most in unpaid tolls by listing their names on its website.

Skip the CTA's ORD Surcharge

Don't want to pay $5 to take the Blue Line from O'Hare? The Trib's Jon Hilkevich found a way, although it's not exactly quick.

Move Along People

City Hall closed on a $288 million federal loan to begin upgrades on O'Hare Airport's "people mover system." The $800 million project, slated for completion in 2016, will include a consolidated rental car facility, parking garage, Metra transfer station, automated transit system station, and bus plaza.

$100k in Tickets Knocked Down to $4500

Remember that car with more than $100,000 in tickets? The City finally settled with the owner for a little under $4,500.

Divvy NIMBYs

Lakeview condo owners have filed a lawsuit against the City after a Divvy bike station was placed in front of their building at Addison and Pine Grove.

Can You Drive 70 on the Kennedy?

The new 70mph highway speed limit is only in effect in rural areas of Illinois -- or it might be OK in Chicagoland as well, depending on how the law is interpreted.

SUV on Bike Assault

Bike-a-bee's Jana Kinsman was attacked last night by four men in a purple Chevy Tahoe while she was riding north on Kimball, grabbing her bag and dragging her until she hit a parked car.

Kinsman sustained significant injuries to her arm, although no broken bones. She was told by police that they are considering the case a hit and run. If you have any information that would be helpful to the investigation, call 311 or text the tips line at CRIMES (274637) and reference case number HW415248, on Beat 1412.

Additional reporting: Chicagoist, DNAinfo.

UPDATE: DNAinfo has surveillance video footage of people coming to the aid of Kinsman after she crashed into a parked car. A GiveForward fundraiser has been established to help Kinsman with medical expenses. As of 1pm on Aug. 21, it has collected more than $4,000.

Here's a Storify by one of Kinsman's friends, collecting her tweets about the attack.

Polluted Commute

The RedEye's annual worst CTA station contest is now open for nominations.

Speed Cameras Coming, Profitable

The planned speed cameras near schools and parks could net the City hundreds of millions a year, based on results of the 30-day test run conducted earlier this year. The first permanent cameras will be rolled out later this month, with 50 planned by the end of the year.

CTA Retirement Party Tomorrow for 2200 Cars

The last of the Blue Line's accordion-doored 2200-series train cars will be retired tomorrow after two "farewell runs" featuring 1970s-era advertising and exterior decals.

Love Machine

Becka Joynt's Miss Vantastic is one sweet ride.

Ventra's First Day

The CTA's Ventra payment system went live yesterday. Tracy Swartz reports on how it went.

L Seating to (Eventually) Improve

The CTA seems to have learned its lesson after introducing its 5000 series L cars to widespread complaint and is going to make its next order more "customer-friendly." View the diagram comparing the cars for a quick review of the changes.

How often CTA honchos ride the CTA

RedEye reporter/punster Tracy Swartz writes that chairman Terry Peterson rode the system eight times from the start of this year to the end of June.

Pay Tickets by Subscription

Milwaukee-based Ticket Ninja just launched in Chicago as a way for chronic parking ticket receivers to pay tickets automatically before late fees rack up.

Cargo Cult

Got a cargo bike? There's a meetup for you this Saturday.

Sentences You Never Expected to Read

Let alone in the NYTimes: "Today, the Chicago Metered Parking System is considered one of the world's best." Naturally, folks have jumped on that.

New Handicap Placards Rolling Out

The Secretary of State has redesigned disability placards in hopes of reducing the number of scofflaws using placards to get out of paying parking meters.

City Sticker Deadline is Today

Today is the last day to buy a city sticker without paying a late fee -- and the last day to get one on your windshield without getting a ticket.

Divvying Up Bike Access

Divvy bike share registration has been steadily growing since it opened June 24, but most bike stations remain out of reach for most of the city's black and Latino populations. The Tribune has
a map
.

Meter-Free Sundays Begin

Parking meters in most of the city are free on Sundays starting today, excluding the central business district within Roosevelt, Halsted, Division and the lake.

Bunching Buses, by the Numbers

Ever wonder why some CTA buses tend to bunch together? So had Transitized, so he took a look at the data. The top three worst bunchers are the 66, 49 and 134. While population density is part of the equation, it's not the only factor.

Riding Divvy's Whole Route

Speaking of Divvy, John Greenfield rode to all 68 bike share locations in one day, and somehow lived to tell the tale.

Divvying Up the Ride

Divvy launched this weekend with only a couple of hitches.

O'Hare to the Loop No Longer a Deal

As of today, the CTA has increased the cost of taking the Blue Line from O'Hare to $5 for everyone except airport employees and some others.

Ride a Blue Bike

After much hoopla and delays, Divvy bikeshare launched today, with 700 bikes available for rent. The program has a ways to go before it serves the whole city, though.

Ventra Coming Late Summer

The CTA and Pace's new Ventra payment system will launch in August, with full roll-out by September.

Pet Friendly Skies

Speaking of pets, United Airlines is opening a new "first class" version of its PetSafe kennel at O'Hare this weekend. [via]

Constructing Equality

Thirty-two percent of construction contracts for the Red Line South Reconstruction Project have been awarded to minority and woman-owned firms.

Free Sunday Parking Starts Early for Some

The meter machines in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 25th wards will be switched to the new free Sundays -- and pay till 10pm every other day -- configuration starting this weekend. The rest will switch over on July 1, assuming the change isn't repealed sooner.

Cavern Beneath the Loop

Crain's got a visit to the CTA's Block 37 superstation, construction of which was shut down in 2008.

Divvy Delayed

Friday's planned launch of the Divvy bikeshare service is being delayed by two weeks for more equipment testing.

Improving the Lakefront Trail

Today the Active Transportation Alliance released its co-authored report [pdf] of user perceptions of the lakefront trail. In a surprise to no one, trail users are most frustrated by the sections between Fullerton and Division and over the river. How's that Navy Pier flyover coming along?

Cut the Corner

A diagonal crosswalk opened today at State and Jackson; it's a pilot test to see if allowing pedestrians to cross in any direction every third light cycle will help reduce accidents and congestion.

My Ride's Gone

Has your bike been stolen? Solomon Lieberman tells you what to do now.

No People at Gary Airport

Allegiant Airlines is moving to O'Hare, which will leave Gary-Chicago International Airport without a commercial airline yet again. Allegiant's last flight out of GYY is Aug. 10.

The Pros & Cons of BRT

Tonight at 5:30pm at the Cultural Center, George and Sarah Aye of Greater Good Studio (previously) host a discussion of the future of bus rapid transit. It's free, but space is limited; register here.

Sharing the Ride

Divvy bike share memberships are now on sale; Streetsblog breaks down the options.

Car-Share Consolidation Continues

I-GO CarSharing, the locally grown, nonprofit alternative to Zipcar, has been purchased by Enterprise, and will be incorporated into the rental company's care share program. Zipcar was bought by Avis in January.

Ventra Charge Changes

The CTA has waived the $5 initial charge and a much of other fees from its new Ventra card system and its prepaid debit card. [via]

Rolling Down Milwaukee

CDOT laid down stripes for the protected bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue [PDF] this week, a little ahead of schedule.

Waiting Out the ORDeal

Heading to O'Hare tomorrow for a long weekend out of town? Crain's shares some tips from frequent fliers on how to kill time during the inevitable delays.

Get Your City Sticker

This year's city vehicle stickers are now on sale, online or in person. After last year's fiasco with the student design competition, this year's sticker looks like it was designed by a machine.

city-sticker-2013.jpg

Countdown to Red Line South

Don't forget (and if you're affected, how could you?), the Red Line South Reconstruction Project begins on Sunday. If you haven't figured out an alternative route yet, the CTA's trip planner might help.

83 Years of Putting Up with Passengers

The first female flight attendant flew the friendly skies 83 years ago today on a Chicago-bound flight.

Train Super Tracker

The CTA's Train Tracker web app got a bunch of new features today -- including a map of where all the trains are right now.

What do Cameras Know About Safety?

The Chicago Inspector General's office released an audit of the city's red light cameras and found that CDOT is not evaluating whether the cameras are effective, and can't prove that cameras are being installed based on safety concerns.

CFD to Provide Safe Passage

Firefighters will be performing security for commuting schoolchildren along the alternative routes planned for the Red Line South Reconstruction project.

Get in Another Car

SF-based Lyft is jumping into the already fairly crowded ride share market here.

Off the Tracks

A Red Line train derailed near the Armitage stop, injuring one rider and halting CTA train service in both directions between Grand and Belmont.

Upping the Ante on Dooring, Bike Violations

Mayor Emanuel proposes doubling fines for both cyclists who violate traffic laws and motorists who "door" cyclists. The proposal has the support of the Active Transportation Alliance.

Trolling Down the Boulevard

StreetsBlog Chicago puzzles over the identity of pro-drivers' rights Logan Square Driver.

Safer in CTA Hands?

The CTA is hiring customer service workers in-house and ending contracts with most of its private security companies.

Park Free on Sunday

Sundays will be free parking out in the neighborhoods once again thanks to a settlement between the City and Chicago Parking Meters LLC, announced today. On the other hand, metered parking hours will extend to 10pm -- or midnight in some areas -- to offset the move.

Wells Street Bridge Closes Tonight

Don't forget, the second half of the Wells Street Bridge reconstruction project begins tonight at 10pm. The bridge and therefore Brown and Purple Line service will be closed until May 6; prepare for extra-crowded Red Line trains next week.

Bike Share Launches in June

The City will launch a bike share system, called Divvy, in June. It'll cost $75 for an annual membership or $7 for a 30-minute ride. It'll start with 75 locations in the Loop and River North; suggest locations for more on the bike share website.

Traffic's not so Bad

Congestion on Chicago's roads improved quite a bit last year, according the research company INRIX's annual scorecard.

Energizing Englewood with Transit

The CTA's Red Line South Project, which gets under way May 19, will close three stations in Englewood for several months, but there are other projects that aim to bring more transportation options to the neighborhood and hopefully boost the local economy.

More Walkable Greektown

Peoria Street turns into a pedestrian bridge over I-290; here's a plan to make it pedestrian-friendly for another block, north to Harrison.

Fast Buses on Ashland

The CTA has chosen Ashland Avenue for its next bus rapid transit experiment. The first phase will run between Cortland Avenue and 31st Street.

Poverty & the Train

Inspired by the New Yorker's map of median income along subway lines, Moacir P. de Sá Pereira made one for the CTA, and did a little digging into why the Sedgewick stop is so complex when looked at through this lens. [via]

Bike with Your iPhone

Steve Vance has updated his Chicago Bike Map app into a full Chicago Bike Guide chock full of new features.

These Wacky Streets

Streetsblog Chicago has created an "Irreverent Guide" to Chicago planning highlights and lowlights to go along with the Complete Streets Chicago plan released last week.

Designing a More Pedestrian City

The Atlantic Cities digs into the new Complete Streets Chicago design guidelines from CDOT and finds pedestrians front of mind.

CDOT: Complete Streets Design Guidelines by Gapers Block

Eliminating A "Six Point" Intersection

The city is proceeding [pdf] with the proposed realignment of the Elston, Damon and Fullerton intersection to improve safety and traffic flow. Visit Alderman Waguespack's website for details he posted last year [pdf].

City Stickers When You Want Them

City Council approved year-round city vehicle sticker sales, which means you'll be able to get yours anytime you like (starting mid-May) on the City Clerk's website.

Money for the Bus

Chicago is one of four cities to receive funds from the Rockefeller Foundation to develop bus rapid transit.

Bridge on the River

The second half of the Wells Street Bridge replacement project doesn't start until April 26; which gives you plenty of time to watch this time-lapse video of the bridge leaf being floated down the river.

How was Your Flight?

The annual Airline Quality Rating from Purdue University and Wichita State University ranked United last in customer satisfaction, although in general air travel in general has been better lately.

Paying out the Nose for Parking

Under a new scheme approved by City Council yesterday, motorists parking in garages could pay as much as $10 in taxes, up from $5 now.

Get Some Rock in Road

It's Potholepalooza for CDOT this weekend, and tickets are free! Just call/type in a report on your neighborhood pothole(s) to 311, SeeClickFix and you're in. (It's worth reading the press release on this, for all the music-related puns.)

Remodeling the Spaghetti Bowl

IDOT has plans to reconfigure the Circle Interchange to be more efficient, but neighborhood residents are furious over designs that would bring ramps within feet of their homes.

Next Stop: BRT

This year's Burnham Prize challenges you to develop innovative designs for Bus Rapid Transit stations in Chicago. [via]

Make More Room for Commuters

IDOT wants to add another lane to either side of the Kennedy out near the River Road toll plaza in hopes of relieving the bottleneck there.

Ventra Debit Card Now Slightly Less Lame

Two of the service fees -- including the $10 one for calling to dispute a charge -- have been dropped from the controversial Ventra debit card the CTA is introducing alongside its new payment system. But they could sneak back in anytime, according to the contract.

City Sells Off the Area

City Council approved the sale of 105 vacant city lots in Englewood to Norfolk Southern so the railway company can move forward on the expansion of its 47th Street Terminal. The expansion will eliminate an existing neighborhood, as documented in The Grid earlier this year.

Hitch a Ride

SideCar, a new app-based service that helps you find a ride to share, just launched in Chicago.

Road Rage, Shots Fired in Jefferson Park

One driver wounded another before their vehicles collided in the Jefferson Park neighborhood this morning. Police are blaming it on some early morning road rage. Both drivers are hospitalized with injuries.

Sorry Mario, the Princess is on Another Train

Robert Bacon created a Super Mario Bros. 3 version of the CTA 'L'system map.

CTA Riders are Used to Fees, Though

While some are singing the praises of the CTA's new Ventra payment system, it looks like there is a good amount of nickel-and-diming in the fine print on the system's prepaid debit card, not to mention in its Ventra transit card. (Jason Prechtel dug into the costs of the private-public deal in Mechanics back in February.)

Melées on the CTA

A man was beaten to death on a Green Line station on Saturday, while five gang members assaulted passengers on a Red Line train Friday night. One man was arrested in the latter incident; police are still investigating the former.

Ventra Q&A

You have questions about the CTA's new Ventra payment system. The RedEye's Tracy Swartz attempts to answer them.

Wells Street Bridge's Last Rebuild

The Wells Street bridge is half replaced (replacing the other half will disrupt Brown Line service in April), but you may be interested to learn that the old bridge was not the original one.

Where are the Bike Corrals?

Maybe it wouldn't be such an issue if someone's rude with their bike-locking style if we had more bike parking to begin with.

The View from Above

The CTA tweeted some pretty cool photographs of the track repairs that caused so much trouble.

Bicycle Etiquette 101

There's a right way to secure a bike to a bicycle rack, and there's a wrong way to do it. This is the wrong way to do it.

Scrapping the L?

Dan X. O'Neil noticed that the metal around CTA L heaters is being removed. Sound familiar?

Bike Spring!

If you're not a Bike Winter person and are preparing for spring riding, you may find these three upcoming bicycle events interesting.

When is an Increase "Not an Increase"?

The CTA is going to all manner of lengths to pretend that it's not increasing ride costs with its new Ventra system. How far? Even directly engaging Twitter users complaining about the increase.

Fixing One Problem with the New Protected Bike Lanes

After trouble keeping new protected bike lanes clear of all manner of debris, Mayor Emanuel announced that future plowing duties will be split, with CDOT taking the new responsibility of plowing the lanes.

Wells in Progress

If you're curious about the bridge repair that's causing all the trouble, you need look no further than today's Rearview photo.

No Red Light Camera Contract?

The recent bribery scandal involving Redflex Traffic Systems prompted Alderman Waguespack to ask the city to stop the search for a new red-light camera contract.

You're All Grounded

Though it didn't quite arrive on time, today's snowstorm has already ruined many plans: nearly a thousand flights at O'Hare and Midway have been canceled. That number should climb.

Transit Woes for the North and West Sides

Don't forget: the Wells Street L bridge is closed, so plan ahead.

"We wanted to take a long train ride together"

How long? 47 hours via Chicago.

Win & Ride

If you're willing to give Metra a try for your commute (assuming there's a station near you), you could win a couple of free tickets. [via]

$3 Ticket to Ride

As Ventra, the new "open fare" system for CTA and Pace, rolls out this summer, the cost of a CTA single-ride ticket could rise to $3 if a new plan is approved.

Watching Crime Happen

The CTA plans to add cameras to train cars, increasing its already impressive number of surveillance cameras. But crime has been up on CTA tracks the past two years despite the extra eyes.

We've reported before on the questions as to whether the CPD's "blue light" cameras in high crime neighborhoods actually reduce crime (short answer: doesn't look like it), so this news doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Riding a Ravenswood B Train

WBEZ's history blogger, John R. Schmidt, narrates a 8mm film of a ride on the Brown Line in 1981.

Sequester is a Flight Risk

Yet another potential effect of the sequester: more delays at O'Hare and Midway, says outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Making of the Chicago Auto Show

If you've ever wanted to know what it takes to put together a major auto show, you can check out Cars.com's time lapse video of the installation. (But turn off your sound; the music is terrible.)

Bridge Out: Brown & Purple Liners Screwed

The CTA will begin repair work on the Wells Street Bridge in March, seriously messing up Brown and Purple Line riders' daily commutes. Disruptions will occur March 1-11, then again April 26-May 6. [via]

State Slows Bike Lanes

The state put a moratorium on buffered bike lanes in Chicago after IDOT voiced concerns about not having enough data about how the configuration affects traffic flow and accident rates.

Cameras on Board

The CTA hopes new high-definition cameras on board train cars will curb crime. The announcement comes on the heels of news about armed robberies of passengers waiting for trains and buses.

Trains, Trains and Automobiles

WBEZ's Curious City tackles several questions about Chicago's trains, bridges and streets.

Driving to McCormick Place

The Chicago Auto Show opens this weekend; if you're willing to pay, you can get a "first look for charity" tomorrow night.

The Joy of Driving

According to a new Urban Mobility Report, Chicago-area drivers should quadruple the amount of time it would take to get somewhere in free-flowing traffic, because "If you plan only for average traffic conditions... you are going to be late at least half the time."

Doored? Your Fault

If you get doored while riding your bike, you could get a ticket depending on whether the police know about an obscure state law that puts responsibility for the accident on the cyclist.

Flying South

A record number of passengers flew out of Midway last year.

More Places to Ride

Illinois received nearly $29 million in federal funding for bike and walking trails in Chicagoland, including several within the city.

Spaces by the Lake?

A Pritzker scion plans to build an ultra-modern parking garage on Sheridan Road in Rogers Park, on land currently occupied by the Shambhala Meditation Center (which is moving to the West Loop). Residents are split in their support.

Airport Nap

O'Hare will offer 29 "Minute Suites," small rooms equipped with a daybed sofa, television and desk, for $30 an hour or $120 a night. The suites have proved popular at the three other locations, and are a fine alternative to sawing through metal armrests to make your own bed.

DIY Train Tracker

Ever want to create your own CTA info display, like you've seen in some businesses around town? Now you can. [via]

Become a Hack

The city wants 2,000 more cab drivers, so Olive-Harvey College is hosting a free taxi driver recruitment day Feb. 7. Interview with cab companies and learn what's entailed to get licensed.

CTA on Snafus

The CTA has put up a page explaining what happens and what to do "when things go wrong" on a train or bus. [via]

Rate Respite

Those new parking meter rates that would make Chicago the most expensive US city to park in? They haven't gone into effect yet.

Off the Grid, onto the Streets

John Greenfield and Steve Vance, the co-founders of Grid Chicago, are moving over to the new StreetsBlog Chicago starting today.

Pullman Rides Again

Pullman Rail Journeys will launch luxury rail service from Chicago to New Orleans in restored Pullman railcars attached to Amtrak's City of New Orleans beginning March 29. Prices range from $500 to $2,850 per passenger, each way. [via]

Pedal Against the Chill

It's not too cold (especially this year) to ride your bike to work. Celebrate that fact this Friday with Winter Bike to Work Day. Get free Eli's cheesecake and Caribou coffee, tea and hot chocolate in Daley Plaza from 6:30 to 9am if you're on your bike.

Get Lower Fare CTA Passes While They Last

So although CTA rates on multi-day passes went up today, there are a number of retailers still selling passes at the old prices to clear out their stock. RedEye is building a list of where to go.

CTA Price Hike Effective Today

The service won't be getting any better, but most CTA fees are higher today; the last price increase was in 2009.

Gaining the Right to Drive

Undocumented immigrants will soon be able to obtain temporary drivers licenses, once Gov. Quinn signs the bill that passed the House yesterday. The law makes Illinois the third state to provide undocumented immigrants licenses.

How's Traffic Looking?

The new Illinois Virtual Tollway site allows you to sneak a peek at current traffic conditions by viewing live snapshots of the road from 15 cameras. Unfortunately, it's only for toll roads, so 290, the Edens, Ike, Kennedy and Dan Ryan aren't covered.

Yeah, Don't Drink & Drive

The UX Blog maps the percentage of the last ten years of fatal traffic accidents where alcohol was a factor, and Chicago doesn't look so great.

National Portrait of Drunk Driving

History Pulled Through the Streets

Forgotten Chicago shares a feature on the remnants of Chicago's cable car system written by Greg Borzo, author of the new book Chicago Cable Cars.

Yeah, We Might Buy Electric Cars

While a recent study demonstrates that most people in the U.S. don't know much about electric cars, Chicago residents are the second most likely to want one.

Meter Rates Rise to Highest in Nation

Chicago's downtown parking meter rates will become the highest in the country when rates rise again on Jan. 1. The lowest rate in the city will rise to $2 per hour.

Midway Back on the Market

Mayor Emanuel announced new plans to privatize Midway Airport -- with significant differences from Daley's plan, but still another example of the city selling itself off piece by piece.

Betting on Parking Apps

Investors must have a hard time parking in Chicago. They've invested $2 million in ParkWhiz and $2.5 million in SpotHero in the past week.

CTA Disgustingness

Great, now we have to worry about poo-filled socks while riding the train.

The Struggle on the Bus

A new set of CTA bus ads by Council on American-Islamic Relationsaims to promote a more positive interpretation of "jihad," the Arabic word that means "struggling in the way of God," not just holy war.(Previously.)

Don't Forget: Bus Routes Rescheduled, Eliminated

The CTA's "Plan to Reduce Crowding" went into effect today, so if you ride the bus, you may want to check for schedule changes.

CTA Decrowding Plan - Route Service Changes & Reductions

Do Cabbies Work for the City?

A federal lawsuit will determine whether the Chicago's regulation of taxis means that cab drivers are city employees, and therefore entitled to minimum wage.

Cycling the Loop

The Loop gets its first protected bike lanes this afternoon, when CDOT officially opens the Dearborn Street bike lane.

CTA Tracker in Your Browser

ETA Chicago is a new web app that tells you what the closest CTA options are for your current address (assuming it can be pinpointed) and when the next bus or train on that line will arrive.

Public Transit Meltdown?

A new study commissioned by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce suggests that unless Chicago's public transit systems invest $2 billion a year for the next decade, things could really start falling apart.

Cataloging Critical Mass

Massup.us now hosts more than two years worth of Critical Mass GPS ride plots, including an an interactive compilation of the rides. If you want to see routes earlier than that, you can still see route flyers going back to 1998.

Smooth Transit for CTA's 2013 Budget

Fare increases, management reforms and a new union contract mean the CTA's doomsdays are all behind us, says Forrest Claypool.

Santa Visits Pink Line Today Only

The CTA Tattler reports that the Holiday Train is making its only trip on the Pink Line today, starting at 2:45pm. Make your plans quickly, Pink Line passengers!

Make Tracks

Take a public art tour on the Brown Line.

Caution: This Vehicle Makes Wide Right Turns

Daniel X O'Neil has photographed more than 130 different signs warning motorists of a truck's wide right turns.

Wacker's Back

Upper and Lower Wacker Drive should completely reopen today in time for the evening rush hour, CDOT says.

Elevated Map Art

Print magazine collects map art from the CTA (and its predecessors).

From Chicago to Evanston, in Only Eight Hours

On this day in 1895, Chicago hosted America's first automobile race. The course ran from Hyde Park to Evanston, and the winner -- one of two cars to complete the entire race -- clocked in at seven hours and 53 minutes.

The Pulse of the CTA

Sumus shares video of its satellite tracking of transit systems around the world -- including CTA buses. [via]

Warning: mute your speakers or be subjected to awful midi music.

A Second Iconic Railroad Tower to be Demolished

With the demolition of Chicago's Lake Street Interlocking Station approaching, railfans are lamenting another area loss. GB flickr pool contributor Duanne Rapp was on hand for the last photograph of the suburban Deval Tower. Its impending demolition was noted back in 2007.

Tollway Tweets

Handy for the holiday season: you can now follow (separately) the four tollways on Twitter for real-time information on traffic, incidents, road work and lane closures. Follow @I_90_Tollway, @94_294_Tollway, @I_355_Tollway or @I_88_Tollway.

Watch Your Speed Here

The City has announced four locations where the new speed cameras will be tested from Dec. 3 to Jan. 3 before a broader roll-out.

Here are the approximate addresses of the cameras:
• 2223 W. Pershing Rd., next to McKinley Park
• 6541 N. Western Ave., next to Warren Park
• 6340 S. King Dr., near Dulles School of Excellence
• 1446 W. Division St., next to Near North Montessori School

View speed camera test sites in a larger map, or read the full press release.

Pass or Per Ride?

The CTA Tattler crunches the numbers to figure out which options are cheaper under the price increases for passes.

Putting Cycling on the Map

The Active Transportation Alliance is updating its Chicagoland Bike Map, and needs your help.

Green Garbage

Chicago will be the first city to start using electric garbage trucks -- the city has signed on for 20, to huge future savings in both cost and noise.

CTA Fares Are & Aren't Increasing

CTA fares will stay the same, but monthly and daily passes will get more expensive in the 2013 budget announced today. Single-ride tickets from O'Hare will also increase to $5, because hey, why not soak the tourists?

Rudolph the Red Line Reindeer

The CTA has released the schedule for this year's Holiday Train. First run is next Friday, Nov. 23, on the Brown Line.

The Meter Deal Stays

The parking meter deal can't be nullified because the city is benefiting from it, a judge ruled in a lawsuit. Despite Mayor Emanuel's bluster about the deal, City attorneys sided with Chicago Parking Meters LLC in the case.

Michigan onto Lake Shore Reopens

Speaking of good traffic news, the northbound entrance ramp from Michigan Avenue onto Lake Shore Drive will reopen in time for the evening rush tonight.

Wacker Drive Nearly Revived

Wacker Drive between Jackson and Adams will reopen for traffic today at 2pm, and Jackson will reopen between Franklin and Canal. The whole Revive Wacker Drive project is expected to finish by the end of the month.

CTA Union Talks Stall

Negotiations between the CTA and two of its unions have stalled, and CTA President Forrest Claypool is threatening layoffs as part of his 2013 budget.

There's (Finally) a (Web) App For That

Need to ride your bike to a L station, then transfer from the CTA to Metra, then grab a Pace bus? The Regional Transit Authority's got a web app a for you. Based on the RTA's website, your route options come complete with weather forecasts, turn-by-turn directions, and attractions near your destination. It'll even calculate your carbon footprint for you.

Drive Less, Get More

The Active Transportation Alliance launched Drive Less, Live More today, a rewards program encouraging Chicagoans to use public transportation, cycling, walking, carpools and other greener methods of travel in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Hailo Launches, Uber Fights

London-based Hailo today officially joins Uber and other services that help you find a taxi in Chicago. Meanwhile, Uber is fighting legislation that could kill its car service business.

New Record for Riding the Entire L System in One Day

Two co-workers from the ad firm Starcom Worldwide recently broke the record for riding the entire L train system in one day. Grid Chicago has posted a suspenseful play-by-play account of their journey, which took 9 hours, 12 minutes, and 39 seconds.

A Tale of Two Airports

Plans continue for a Peotone airport despite Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s continued absence. Meanwhile, the City is spending millions on practically empty Gary/Chicago International Airport. [via]

The L in O Scale

Terry Gaskin is building a model train version of the CTA in his basement. Hear him talk about it on the Model Railway Show podcast.

IMG_5844x

Sandy's Effects in Chicago

Hurricane Sandy's effects are being felt throughout the Great Lakes as high winds kick up waves as tall as 33 feet. A flood warning has been issued for the lake shore from 1am tonight through 4pm Wednesday. Meanwhile, more than 500 flights have already been canceled at Midway and O'Hare. Whet Moser passes along a couple ways to see Sandy's effects on local weather.

Seat Belts vs. Zombies

The Illinois Department of Transportation is trying a new kind of scare tactic: saying that a seat belt protects you from any unexpected scenario - including a zombie attack.

X-Ray Away

The TSA is now denying you the momentary thrill of being seen sort-of naked by a security guard every time you get on a plane at O'Hare. They're being pulled from the nation's busier airports because they take too long -- radiation and blurry nudity notwithstanding. (The scanners will remain at Midway, though.)

Get Your City Sticker Anytime

Vehicle stickers may soon be available for purchase year-round from the City Clerk's Office, in a system similar to the state's license plate renewal process.

Express Lanes on Ashland and Western

The Chicago Tribune reports on a plan to add dedicated express lanes for buses on Ashland and Western Avenue, which may be the closest we're going to get to a "circle line" for a while.

Share Where to Bike Share

The City has launched a website to collect suggestions as to where to place bike-sharing stations, and will also hold a series of public meetings to discuss the bike share service.

Terminal 5 Upgrades to 1st Class

O'Hare's international terminal will get a $26-million makeover that includes a major restaurant and amenities upgrade.

The Variable Cost of Driving

CMAP has introduced a plan for congestion pricing on Chicago area tollways, in which the cost of driving on the tollway would vary based on vehicle type and time of day.

Monitoring the Meter Deal

In the latest chapter of the parking meter drama, Mayor Emanuel has ordered that Chicago Parking Meters LLC be independently audited to make sure it's living up to its side of the bargain.

Weekend Closure of Noyes Street Station

Noyes Street Station, one of the northernmost stops on the CTA Purple Line, will be closed for repairs this weekend. Commuters traveling to or from Evanston will not be able to access the station between 10pm on Friday until 4am on Monday.

Cab Companies Order a Lawsuit for Uber

Taxi companies are suing Uber, claiming the private car ordering service violates city regulations about how many cabs are on the road.

Designing a Chicago Transit App

Although its Kickstarter campaign failed, Greater Good Studio is developing its Designing Chicago transit navigation app anyway -- and they're looking for help from you.

More Tickets for Sticker Scofflaws

Ticketing for a lack of a current city sticker is up 58 percent this year so far, The Expired Meter reports.

A Sleek New Wilson Stop

The CTA enveiled plans for its renovation of the Wilson Red Line station. There's a community meeting scheduled for Oct. 11 for public input.

AAA Goes Pink

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, stranded motorists in the Chicago area who utilize AAA will be rescued by pink tow trucks for the remainder of 2012.

pinktowtruck_450_2394_451_2394_low.jpg

15 Years of Pissing Off Drivers

Tonight's Critical Mass isn't just any old traffic-clogging fun ride. It's also the 15th anniversary of the movement in Chicago.

It's Scary Out There

WBEZ producer Robin Amer shares the five scariest things she learned from Chicago's new Pedestrian Plan during today's edition of the Morning Shift. "As a pedestrian...you can be doing everything right and still be hit and killed. Which I find terrifying, frankly," says Amer.

New Fare Cards Coming

Starting next summer, CTA and Pace will begin switching over to Ventra cards, a smart card that can also be used as a prepaid debit card. By 2014, Ventra will have replaced all existing cards, and most trains and buses will be able to handle (microchip-equipped) personal credit/debit cards and cell phones as means of payment.

More Lake Shore Roadwork

As if the north Lake Shore Drive repaving project and Fullerton ramp reconstruction wasn't snarling traffic enough, on Monday CDOT will begin reconstruction of the northbound on-ramp at Oak Street, at the north end of Michigan Avenue. CDOT also began work on the intersection of South Shore and 79th today. (It's not any better on the trains.)

CTA Looking for Artists

The CTA is looking for artists to create public art work for seven soon to be rehabbed North Side Red Line stations. Proposal submissions are due by 3:30pm Oct. 10. Architecture Chicago Plus has rounded up some examples of current public art on the CTA.

Zipcar Meets Airbnb

Getaround is an app that lets you take car sharing to the personal level by putting your car up for rent by the hour. So far, 104 cars are available in Chicagoland, for between $5 and $25 an hour.

American Pilots to Strike; United Probed for Delays

American Airlines canceled an unusually high number of flights Tuesday as pilots mounted a "sick-out" in advance of a strike; 100 pilots are expected to picket at O'Hare on Thursday. Meanwhile, United is being investigated by the US Dept. of Transportation over 14 flights stuck on the ground for longer than the legal limit on July 13, which was due to the big storms that nearly shut down the first day of the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Public Art

The CTA is looking for artists to create work for seven rehabbed north side Red Line stations. Local, national and international artists are encouraged to apply by Oct. 10, though there will be community meetings to discuss the project both tomorrow and Thursday. [via]

A Need For Speed (Cameras)

Nine companies submitted bids for "Chicago's speed camera automated enforcement program" on Monday. The contract to place 300 cameras around Chicago is a lucrative one, but not without the possibility of technical and legal issues.

The Greening of Wilson

Preliminary redesigns for the CTA's station at Wilson in the Uptown neighborhood contain ideas for utilizing solar energy and radiant heating, among other green initiatives, to help not only the station's energy needs, but those of the neighborhood as well.

Yesterday's Transit System of Tomorrow

John R. Schmidt shares pictures and details on a 1958 CTA plan to create subways and bus-ways throughout the city.

The People on the Train

Public Portraits photographs riders of Chicago's rails -- including the adorable Kangaroo Mom.

How We'll Walk

CDOT released the Chicago Pedestrian Plan, a document aimed at "improving all aspects of the pedestrian experience and increase pedestrian activity."

Chicago Pedestrian Plan

Enjoy the Ride

What the L?!, "Chicago's commuter comic," makes light of your daily ride on the CTA.

Grinding Down the Outer Drive

Two sections of Lake Shore Drive, from Sheridan to Foster and from Belmont to North, will be resurfaced beginning tomorrow, Sept. 5. CDOT promises not to obstruct any southbound lanes during morning rush hour (6-10am) or northbound lanes in the evening (3-7pm), but all bets are off at other times, day or night till they're done with all eight lanes -- which should happen sometime in November.


View North Lake Shore Drive Resurfacing in a larger map

Circle Makeover

The mess that is the Circle Interchange might be getting a $375 million fix-up, pending a few design and funding decisions. (un)Fun fact: the Circle Interchange is home to three crashes per day, as well as 25 million hours of delays every year.

Dreamliner Takes Off

The first commercial flight for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner will be a United flight from Houston to O'Hare on Nov. 4. Meanwhile, Ron Akana, a United flight attendant, retired this week after 63 years in the air.

Biking in Little Village

Tonight at 6pm at the Universidad Popular at 28th and Hamlin, there's a bilingual discussion of biking issues in the Little Village and the City's new bike plan, as well as the anti-violence marches in the neighborhood this month.

Where You Might have Ruined Your Fuel System

BP's finally released the full list of gas stations where the "off specification" fuel from the Whiting plant was sold. If you think you have a problem, file a claim here.

Bike Local, Buy Local

Crain's gives a good overview of the city's handbuilt bike companies.

Schoolkids Ride Free

The CTA will provide free rides to students on the first day of school next week, thanks to a $150,000 donation from the Sun-Times. And 500 students at five high schools will get free CTA fare all year through a $50,000 grant from philanthropist Wendy Abrams.

Next Stop: Wilson

The new CTA Station Watch blog shared plans for a major renovation of the Wilson Red Line stop and surrounding area, to begin next year.

Storm Shuts Down Outer Drive

As you may have heard, Lake Shore Drive was shut down between Grand and North avenues for about three hours last night due to flooding during Sunday night's storms. Portions of Western, Roosevelt and Ashland were closed as well.

Untangling the Routes

WBEZ created a helpful interactive map to illustrate which lines would be affected by the proposed CTA route restructuring.

A Little Bike Culture History

Whet Moser puts the current culture clash over bicycles into historical perspective by looking at Chicago in the 1960s.

Decrowding by Cutting Buses

The CTA is floating a "decrowding" plan that would eliminate 12 bus routes but add more trains to most of the L lines. Tracy Swartz thinks it might work, if it's done right.

Presentation - CTA Crowding Reduction Plan - August 2012

Taxing the Bikes?

John Kass proposes a toll system for bicyclists in the city, complete with a "Rahm-PASS" electronic toll thingy. Folks at the Chain Link bike forum are suitably bemused and dismissive. (Meanwhile, the Sun-Times' Mark Konkol doesn't hide his feelings about cyclists behind parody.)

Fighting Back on the Boot

Megan Nolan was forced to pay $810 for allegedly removing a Denver boot from her car -- except it was a car she didn't own. She fought back and managed to win despite harrowing odds.

Bus Rapid Transit Begins to Become Reality

CTA crews began construction Monday on the city's first "bus rapid transit" line, which will run for 16 miles along Jeffrey Boulevard. Service is expected to begin this fall.

Disputing the Parking Ticket

Crain's breaks down the $49.7 million dispute between the City and Chicago Parking Meters LLC in a handy infographic.

Stuck in a Cab

Eric Martin, a Columbia College film student and a cab driver, is working on a documentary, Cab Slaves, about the exploitation and corruption he sees in the city's taxi industry. He's raising money on IndieGoGo to help fund it.

Two if by Sea

Two Navy vessels will be joined by the Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy docking at Navy Pier as part of Navy Week. They're on the first scheduled Naval cruise of Lake Michigan since 1999.

Police-Train Crash at Kedzie

An unmarked police car went around the gates at the Kedzie Brown Line crossing after a Loop-bound train passed -- and was hit by a northbound train. The car's driver and the conductor were taken to the hospital, and are reported in stable condition. The CTA is running a shuttle to take passengers between the Kimball and Western stations.

kedzie cta crash
Photo by redditor Dookster

Fewer Tickets, but more Revenue

The police have been writing fewer parking tickets this year, but revenue is up... because LAZ parking attendants are picking up the slack.

Waiting to Bike Share

The launch of Chicago's bike share program has been postponed till next year, in part due to software glitches in Alta Bicycle Share's system. The same problems have delayed a similar program in New York. CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein told WBEZ yesterday that it will be better anyway to wait until next year to launch all 400 planned share stations at once, rather than just 50 this year.

CTA Speeds Up Slow Zone Work

The CTA has decided that, since it's already ripping up most of the stations on the north portion of the Red Line anyway, why not eliminate the slow zones in the area too, while it's at it. That work was originally planned for 2015.

NYE Drunk Train Sponsored by Miller Lite

MillerCoors signed on as sponsor of the CTA's annual "Penny Rides" program on New Year's Eve through 2015. (Previously.)

The El's Pits of Despair

The RedEye's Tracy Swartz wants to know which CTA station is the worst, Division on the Blue or Sheridan on the Red?

MegaBus Troubles

It's been a tough week for MegaBus, first with a tragic accident on I-55 that killed one passenger and injured 38, and now with a bus striking a 76-year-old pedestrian who later died from her injuries.

A Street Traveling Train

GB flickr pool contributor Zol87 spied a new CTA train car winding its way through the streets on a truck bed.

New CTA 5000 Series Rail Cars Being Delivered to The Skokie Shops

Please Keep Your Belongings Off the Seat Next To You

A Yale University study showed that commuters will go to great lengths to keep strangers from occupying the neighboring seat -- "pretending to be busy," putting on an iPod, claiming the seat's being saved, even making a "'don't bother me' face." Obviously this study didn't include the CTA.

Where to Park & When not to Park

Parking.Chicago.com aims to serve all your parking needs. Meanwhile, ChicagoStreetSweeping.com is another site (in addition to SweepAround.Us) that helps remind you when to move your car for street sweeping.

A Future Covered in Cameras

The map of the city that could potentially be covered by cameras under Emanuel's "Children's Safety Zone" ordinance was obtained by the Sun-Times, and it's as bad as everyone thought it might be. Fortunately, only 50-300 of the possible 1,500 cameras will be installed -- for now -- under the agreement City Council made with the mayor.

Devon's Parking Nightmare

WBEZ reports on the ongoing saga of City Parking Lot #47 at Devon and Rockwell.

Harvesting These Green Streets

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently contributed an unlikely product to the Lincoln Park Zoo: food, in the form of bamboo from a Chinatown roadside. [Thanks, Chris!]

Peeping Toms in Transit

Do you peek into apartment windows and backyards as you trundle past on the train? You're not alone.

Jerks of the Road

Bad Chicago Drivers chronicles both cyclists and motorists whose bad manners endanger those around them. Courtesy of BikeCHI.org.

CTA's Fixing the Shed

The CTA plans to overhaul its maintenance facilities, to the tune of $205 million.

106 Miles to Chicago

Ever wonder where they're measuring from when a highway sign says it's X miles to Chicago? Grid Chicago explains.

Driving on the Rails

The elevated train system is outdated, and Rails to Car Trails has a plan to update the El for the 21st century: replace those rails with asphalt for a road system in the sky!

Windex, Paper Towls & a Razor Blade

The Expired Meter got City Clerk Susana Mendoza to demonstrate how to remove the old city sticker from your windshield. This is your last week to buy a 2012 city sticker.

Designing a New CTA App

Last night Greater Good Studio's George and Sara Aye launched a Kickstarter to develop a new, innovative CTA app, and they want your help to create it. Read more about the project in our exclusive interview with the Ayes -- and see more interesting Chicago-based projects on our curated Kickstarter page.

1 Sweet Plate

How much would you pay for Illinois license plate 1? Gov. Quinn wants the plate, which has been out of circulation for a decade, up for auction, with the proceeds benefiting programs for veterans.

Boundaries That Aren't Blurred

Racially segregated neighborhoods on the Red Line, as illustrated by time-lapse video.

Time Your Metra Flight

Metra finally launched a train tracker. It's only available on Metra's website at the moment (bottom left), but hopefully smart phone apps will soon follow.

Who Needs a Flyover?

The Lakefront Trail gets pretty squeezed around Navy Pier, where cyclists, joggers, pedestrians and tourists on Segways all come together. But is a $45 million "flyover" the best solution? Steve Vance proposes a cheaper alternative on Grid Chicago.

Cabbies: Fare Hike or Strike

Chicago taxi drivers may strike Monday if they don't get a fare increase to help offset the increased cost of doing business due to upcoming new regulations. At least one alderman is backing them.

Full Stop for Pedestrians, Please

CDOT installed mid-street "Stop for Pedestrians" signs on Clark Street in Andersonville, and more are on the way across the city.

Get in an Uber Cab

Private car service Uber recently added taxi service, and to mark the occasion it's paying for cab rides booked through the app till the end of Wednesday.

The Joys of Predictive Analytics

Are you a Mac user? Do you use Orbitz? If so, the Chicago-based company probably didn't steer you to the best deals.

This Groupon is Grand

That Groupon for CTA passes we told you was coming? It's here. Get yours now.

It's Good to Take a $600 Phone On the Train. Also, Bad.

CTA thefts are up -- and also down.

No Purple Line This Weekend, Take 2

The CTA will be at it again this weekend, shutting down the Purple Line so that bridges over Dempster and Grove streets can be replaced. (Thanks, Dee!)

Look Out Below!

Don't forget to look up when you're in a parking garage.

Chicago's Slow to Plug In

Installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Chicago is months behind schedule, and the City is investigating "financial irregularities" with the contractor.

Wacker Drive: Stage 4

Today marks the beginning of the fourth and final stage of the Wacker Drive reconstruction project, which brings another handful of closures, detours and bus reroutes.

Weigh in on Red Line South Project

Tonight the CTA is holding the first of what will surely be quite a few public forums discussing the planned Dan Ryan reconstruction project, which will close the Red Line south of Chinatown for five months next year. There's another meeting on Thursday.

Groupon to Knock 35% Off the CTA

Groupon will be offering a deal on CTA three-day passes sometime this summer. The passes will be $9 instead of the usual $14, and will be limited to four per person.

A Bridge, in 48 Hours

The Purple Line was closed last weekend, allowing crews to replace a bridge in a mere two days. How? Well, there's a video!

No Purple Line This Weekend

The Purple Line is closed starting tonight at 8:30pm so a new bridge can be installed at Greenleaf Street in Evanston. Shuttle bus service will be available at Howard. (Thanks, Dee!)

Get into the Work Cycle

Bike to Work Week is next week, and there's still a little time left to sign up for the Bike Commuter's Challenge.

BIKE TO WORK WEEK - CHICAGO from Justin Teichen on Vimeo.

Previewing the Red Line South Closure

Two Sun-Times reporters decided to test the CTA's planned shuttle route for next summer's Red Line South renovation to see how the commute time compared.

Rahm Defends Red Line Closure

If "Forrest Claypool made me do it" is a defense, that is. The Mayor speaks up at a press conference about the decision to close the southern portion of Red Line for five months in 2013.

Watching the Red Line

Crowd-sourced website CTA Station Watch ramped up recently in order to help document all of the work now underway on the north end of the CTA's Red Line improvement project. Check out photos and posts from various stations slated for work this summer, or contribute tidbits of your own.

The Courteous Transit Authority

Illustrator Aaron Krause has a friendly PSA for all you bus riders. Hopefully the CTA will be hanging these soon.

People Get Ready, There's No Train A-Comin'

The CTA will be shutting down the Red Line south of Chinatown/Cermak for five months next spring, so as to replace the tracks along the Dan Ryan portion of the line. Shuttle buses will take commuters over to the Green Line during the closure. Full details about the project are on the CTA's website.

Getting in the Green Lane

Remember the Kinzie Street protected bike lane? Yesterday, it was the site that national nonprofit Bikes Belong Foundation chose to announce their new Green Lane Project: a two-year initiative to create dedicated, inviting bike lanes throughout Chicago and four other cities.

Next Stop Belmont, Brought to You By...

After considering it in 2005, 2008 and earlier this year, the CTA is offering the opportunity to buy naming rights for 11 train stations.

Your Future Union Station

The finalized Union Station Master Plan as been released (previously).

Win with a Sticker

If you buy your vehicle city sticker online this year by July 15, you could win a prize.

Getting Around NATO

For those interested in braving the downtown area the next few days, the Tribune has a full transit guide featuring motorcade delays, parking restrictions, waterway delays, etc. (RedEye put together a CTA-specific guide a few days ago)

Getting Around NATO

The RedEye's Tracy Swartz has tips for how to get around the city on public transit while the NATO Summit and protestors are in town.

Missing CTA Map? Blame a DePaul Student

DePaul officials are searching dorm rooms for stolen CTA train maps after the DePaulia published an article about the "rite of passage." You can buy the maps for $36 directly from the CTA. [via]

Dogs at the Wheel Still OK

Driving with a dog in your lap seems at least as distracting as being on the phone, but Illinois legislators disagreed, voting down a bill that would have made a ticketable offense.

Chicago Going Forward

CDOT released its "Chicago Forward Action Agenda" today, which maps out a vision for the city's transportation needs over the next two years. Grid Chicago talked with CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein about the plan.

Chicago Forward Plan

We're Screwed Over on Parking Meters

By the Expired Meter's back-of-the-envelope calculations, Chicago will pay back all of the $1.16 billion it received in the parking meter privatization deal over the course of the lease. Emanuel's refusal to send a check for the latest bill is only a drop in the bucket.

Have a Raily Good Time

National Train Day is this Saturday, May 12, and there are plenty of events planned.

Midway Privatization Plans Return

Are plans to privatize Midway back on? Looks like it might be, despite Emanuel campaigning against it.

Chicago's Freight Nightmare

"When it comes to rail traffic, Chicago is America's speed bump." NYTimes reports on Chicago's rail freight problem, and the federal-state program aiming to fix it.

Too Frequent Fliers

American Airlines used to sell a ticket for unlimited travel for life. As it got expensive, the company shut it down -- and started investigating some of its most active users.

The Hometown Un-Discount

Remember that "hometown discount" Allstate was giving to Illinois residents? Yeah, those days are over. The company's increasing insurance rates by 3 to 5 percent later this month.

Cycle Your Commute

The Active Transportation Alliance's Bike Commuter Challenge is coming up next month, and you can sign up now as a team leader or participant for your office. Over 500 companies throughout Chicagoland took the challenge last year. Even a partial commute counts towards participating, so you can give it a try by riding your bike to the CTA or Metra, too.

A Chip too Far

Chicago Parking Meters LLC is asking for yet another $14 million in "lost" compensation, putting the total at $28 million. This time, though, the City is fighting back.

Careful Crossing These Roads

Of the 20 most dangerous intersections in Chicagoland, only four are within Chicago city limits. But those four... watch out.

Ride with Lights at Night

Steven Vance's Get Lit campaign wants to encourage more cyclists to use lights when riding at night. Vance is running a contest to garner more donations to help fund its June light distribution event -- donate by May 31 and be entered to win a set of Monkeylectric spoke lights.

Pink is for Pills

A map of Chicago drug possession charges overlaid on the CTA rail system, which manages to be fascinating, terrifying and depressing all at once.

New Stop for the Swift

The Oakton-Skokie stop on the Yellow Line opened for passengers at 4:45am this morning, and a surprising number of people were there to greet it. (Thanks, Kim!)

Easier to Walk than Ride

Walk Score ranked Chicago's public transit system sixth in the country -- but we're still fourth for overall walkability (previously). [via]

CDOT Announces Spring Bridge Raising Schedule

Early warning: The first raising of the bridges over the Chicago River occur at 9:30am next Wednesday, May 2.

Spring Bridge Lifts 4.24.12

Fixing the Odd Corner

The awkward intersection at Milwaukee, Wolcott and Wood will get a makeover in September, causing far fewer pedestrians to wander into traffic.

Talking about Bus Rapid Transit

Today at 12:15, the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts a discussion of bus rapid transit as part of its Wednesday Lunch Talks series -- and this one is being streamed online in case you can't make it in person.

Parka the Hutt

Chicago magazine's Jeff Ruby commissioned a sculpture made out of parking meter receipts, and got a certain Star Wars villain.

parkathehutt.jpg
Image courtesy of Chicagomag.com. More photos here.

New City Stickers Out

This year's revised city stickers were finally released yesterday, simply featuring the logos for the CPD, CFD and paramedics. (Previously.) City Clerk Mendoza says she's not decided whether the high school design contest will return next year. You can buy yours online on the City Clerk's website.

Uber Goes Beyond Black Cars

Uber is testing on-demand taxi service in Chicago, moving beyond private cars for the first time.

City Council Passes Speed Camera Ordinance

After much debate, the City Council passed the Child Safety Zone Ordinance, aka the speed camera ordinance, 33-14. The council also approved an expansion of the bike share program.

Digging into CDOT Accident Data

City Council will be considering the speed camera ordinance tomorrow, and CDOT has provided some ward-by-ward accident data for them to review. The Expired Meter got hold of the report and provides some analysis.

Parking Deals Gone Bad

The City is getting sued over not one but two parking privatization deals, the Sun-Times reports. Whet Moser adds some additional perspective.

Commuting on Congress

The Tribune has a hopeful update on the Congress Parkway construction project/situation/nightmare/disaster (you pick). The trifecta of congestion-causing construction operations should be letting up over the next few months.

Considering the Speed Cameras

A City Council committee met yesterday to consider the proposal to install speed cameras near schools and parks. The Expired Meter reports that many aldermen have gotten calls opposing the plan and Geoff Dougherty shares study data indicating the cameras are a poor means of curbing speeding. Meanwhile, the Active Transportation Alliance has come out in favor of speed cameras. UPDATE: The ordinance passed out of committee and will go before the full Council next week.

Cubs Home Opener's Today

The Tribune Co. and DirecTV hugged it out, so you'll be able to watch the Cubs home opener on WGN today -- but if you are coming in from the suburbs, out of town for the game, the CTA Tattler has some recommendations for your Red Line ride to the stadium.

Quick-Charge

Though electric vehicle owners can charge for free at multiple-hour 'Level 2' stations, 26 quick-charge stations have been installed in the Chicagoland area, asking $21 for three 15 minute sessions. Full list of stations, fast and slow, can be found here.

Making Money the Hard Way

Would you drive a pedicab from Wrigley to 11th and Michigan in blazing summer heat? You might if there were $200 in it for you.

CTA Releases Red Line Remodel Closure Dates

The CTA announced the dates for the next station closures in its ongoing renovation of the Red Line. Granville is first, on May 11.

Gas Up or Plug In

Gas prices hit a new record high in Chicago, and is the most expensive in the country. So news that I-GO has added all-electric vehicles to its car sharing service comes at a good time.

Waiting in the Train Line

A Muscovite compares the CTA to the trains back home.

Next Stop, Cermak

Details for the new Cermak Green Line station were revealed last week.

The Old-fashioned, Futuristic Trolley

When the last trolley bus ran in 1973, it might have seemed like a step forward -- but in 2012, its all-electric system wouldn't be a bad step backward.

Wilson Upgrade

For those who deal with the wreck that is the Wilson red line stop -- good news! Quite a few of the upcoming improvements were discussed at the 46th Ward Town Hall meeting (purple line stop?). The Uptown Update has a summary.

Name that Train!

In an effort to make a few extra bucks, the CTA is seeking formal bids for corporate naming rights to a few major untapped assets including the CTA Bus Tracker, Train Tracker, the Holiday Train, New Year's Eve Penny Rides, and a program offering free rides on the first day of school to CPS students.

Do Red Light Cameras Even Help?

Maybe not, according to analysis of a CDOT safety study by UIC professor Rajiv Shah.

What the Speed Cameras Might Look Like

Details of the speed camera revenue plan are starting to roll out of city hall, including that the cameras would be in operation by the end of the year.

Train Trials

You might have noticed the disappearance of the new 5000 Series CTA cars -- they were pulled in December after a handful of dangerous defects were discovered on the undersides.

Longer Yellows Mean Safer Reds

A bill being considered by the state senate would lengthen yellow lights by one second at intersections with red light cameras, which studies show would reduce the number of red light violations. Interestingly, IDOT is opposing the bill.

A World of Classical Music in March

In our monthly classical music column, Pulling Strings, you can check out upcoming affordable concerts from composers around the world, performed around Chicago from grand concert halls to the Adler Planetarium. Read about it all in Transmission.

CPD Shops Local

The police department is getting some nice looking new cruisers, and they're made in Chicago.

Gas Up While It's Cheap

Chicago's gas prices are among the lowest in the country, as local refineries clear out the winter weight gas inventory. Unfortunately, a price spike could be looming.

Making the Streets Safer

Whet Moser has dug into traffic this week, offering a defense of the City's speed camera plan and examining the correlation between crime and traffic accidents.

This Rail System Runs Express

John Greenfield and Dany Resner rode the rails to visit every CTA station in just nine hours, 30 minutes and 59 seconds, beating the previous record, set last year by a visitor from England.

New Law to Expose Dangerous Taxi Drivers

A new city ordinance promises to hold cab companies liable for repeat-offender drivers. The law will go into effect in the summer and is expected to make current laws surrounding cab drivers, which are typically circumvented, easier to enforce.

Under Downtown

Newcity takes a "subterranean safari" through the city's underground pedway network- an odd, sprawling area littered with shops where the city's own map is out of date. (Our own two-part pedway tour could probably use some updating, too.)

Own a Drivable Piece of Film History

The Volo Auto Museum is selling one of the four Porsche 928s from the early 1980s film Risky Business. Don't forget your skivvies and sunglasses...

CTA Asks: Are You OK With These "Hypothetical Fare Scenarios"?

A CTA survey asks travelers to voice their opinions on over 200 possible — and randomly generated — fare scenarios.

Slow Train South

Amtrak's City of New Orleans train from here to New Orleans is delayed 99 percent of the time thanks to freight traffic.

City Sticker Fiasco Continues

So now the runner up in the city sticker design contest doesn't want her design to be used in light of the controversy, so the City Clerk's office will design it in-house instead.

Watch an L Car Leave the Tracks

The Chicago History Museum's YouTube channel has some pretty great short videos, including this recent post showing the installation of their L car.

Controversial City Sticker to be Scrapped

The City has decided to pull the winning city sticker design amid concerns that its imagery includes gang symbols. No word yet which of the other designs will be substituted, nor whether the 15-year-old student who designed the winning sticker will be forced to give back the $1000 bond he received.

Man vs Machine

Overwhelmed by the 2012 Chicago Auto Show? The Tribune has put together a short list of must-sees for those feeling underprepared.

It's Not Irving Park Boulevard

WBEZ history blogger John R. Schmidt explains why some Chicago streets are roads, others avenues or boulevards, and where there are some anomalies.

Did We Vote on Gang Signs for Our Windshields?

Are there gang signs hidden in this year's city sticker design? Police blogger Detective Shaved Longcock makes a convincing argument that the sticker features symbols for the Maniac Latin Disciples. A gang member source of the Expired Meter corroborates.

Rough Tracks

The RedEye considers a few different red/purple line renovation proposals- much needed, as both lines had 20% of their track under slow zones last month.

Your New Window Art

This year's city sticker design has been revealed.

Tracking Bike 2015

Grid Chicago's Steven Vance had trouble keeping tabs on developments with the Bike 2015 Plan for Chicago, so he created the Bike 2015 Tracker to give a clear overview of progress being made.

Grab a Cab Together

Taxi Share Chicago is an Android app that helps you find a person to share a cab with you.

No Love on Twitter for the CTA

Researchers at Purdue conducted a "sentiment analysis" of riders on Chicago's "L." They found no one really says anything positive, but negative comments spike during delays. (Tweet to @CTA if you're currently stuck on the "L" or want to say something nice for a change.)

Hanging on the Train

Chicago "L" Hangman is pretty much what it sounds like. [via]

The Roper Junction

The intersection of the Edens and the Kennedy will soon be known as the Gerald J. Roper Gateway, after the CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. But everyone will continue call it the Junction or Montrose.

See What's Been Plowed

The City's new Plow Tracker is great, but Derek Eder and Forest Gregg's ClearStreets takes it a step further and shows you where the plows have been, for a better idea of what progress has been made.

CTA in NYC

Redditor northsider1983 overlaid the CTA on New York City, and vice versa. [via]

cta_nyc.jpg

Here's a version with the MTA lines in white for comparison.

$3.25 per Pull

The fuel surcharge on taxi service will be permanent if the City Counsel passes an ordinance that made it out of committee yesterday, but that doesn't mean cab drivers are making any more money. Drivers continue to protest the taxi industry overhaul proposed by Mayor Emanuel.

Finally Off the Bus

Tracy Swartz rode all 139 CTA bus routes over the past two and a half years, and now she's done.

Transit Twofer

If getting rid of your car was your New Year's Resolution, the Center for Neighborhood Technology has an offer to sweeten that deal: if you sign up for a Chicago Card Plus/I-GO card before February 29th, you'll get a discount on the I-GO application fee and a $50 credit towards CTA fare.

Riding Along the River

As part of Grid Chicago's "stealth" bike route series, John Greenfield recently rode the North Branch Path, and discovered all sorts of interesting stuff.

Taxi Drivers Talk Back on Proposed Regulation

Author and cabbie Dmitry Samarov weighs in on Mayor Emanuel's proposed new taxi ordinance. Chicago Dispatcher has even more dissent.

$135/Mile is Uber Expensive

Uber customers in Chicago and elsewhere got a bit of a shock if they used the private car service on New Year's Eve: "surge pricing" that drove the cost of a ride up as much as 6.25 times the regular price. Not surprisingly, the reaction was uber negative.

By Car, Bus or Train, a Great Deal

Now until Feb. 29, you can get a year's membership to I-GO car share for just $15 -- and receive a $50 CTA fare credit when you sign up for a Chicago Card Plus I-Go.

Text the Train Tracker

The CTA added SMS service to its Train Tracker -- starting today you can text "ctatrain" and the station code (here's a list) to 41411 and it'll text you back an estimate of when the next train will arrive.

Wacker Reconstruction Rolls On

The next phase of the "Revive Wacker Drive" project commences Monday, Jan. 9. Wacker will be closed from Monroe almost all the way to Jackson until sometime this summer, but Madison will reopen.

More Holes than Street

Chicago's Department of Transportation filled more than 600,000 potholes in streets, highways and alleys in 2011. That's a new record.

Parking Meters to Increase Again

On Monday, street parking rates will increase again. Parking will cost $5.75 an hour in the Loop, $3.50 in other business districts and $1.75 in neighborhoods.

Take a (Nearly) Free Ride

All CTA train and bus fares become one measly penny from 10pm to 4am tomorrow. Celebrate that!

Buckles in the Front Seat, Buckles in the Back Seat

Starting Sunday, passengers in the back seats of vehicles will be required to use seat belts, too. Taxis are exempt.

A Year of Traffic Tweets

WBEZ has a downloadable list of Chicago traffic maven Sarah Jindra's favorite tweets from the past year. Ah, the memories.

A Roadside Memorial for Killed Cattle

PETA has requested to erect a monument to 16 cattle who were killed in a gruesome truck accident on I-80 near suburban Hazel Crest. In their efforts, they cite a 2007 law allowing family members to request the installation of memorials for drunk driver victims. IDOT says it's not going to happen.

Sharing a Love of Convenience Stores

Apparently there is a publication that is "The source for convenience store news online," and it recently featured a road trip story surveying convenience stores between Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona.

Infographic: Stuck in Traffic

Local startup BodyShop Bids put together an infographic about holiday traffic in major cities.

bodyshopbids_scrooged.jpg

Hop on the Holiday CTA

The Red Line Project gives a glimpse of what it's like, riding the CTA, Christmas style.

Be Gone 500 Miles

MetaFilter explores the train The City of New Orleans and the song it inspired.

I-GO Solar

I-GO car sharing service is going solar with solar-powered recharging stations for its fleet of electric cars, and just announced that it's adding one at the Kimball stop on the Brown Line.

Santa in the Subway

Never thought about it before: the CTA Holiday Train goes through the subway, not just up on the elevated tracks. CTO John Tolva caught Santa arriving in the Blue Line tunnel this weekend; he'll be jingling down the Red Line tracks today and this weekend.


City Sticker for Heroes

The designer of next year's city sticker has a pretty great story of his own.

Handicapped Parking Isn't Free According to LAZ

LAZ Parking sent the City a $13.5 million bill for lost revenue due to people using disabled parking placards or plates to park for free at meters.

Road Hazards are Everywhere

Don't forget that vehicle peril can come from above, particularly if there are birds around.

Be Your Own Crossing Guard

Some intersections around town now have orange flags for pedestrians to wave while crossing the street. It's part of a CDOT campaign for pedestrian safety.

Santas On Two Wheels

When Santa's not in a sleigh, he's totally a bike winter fan. Don your fuzziest of red hats or your elfiest of shoes and head out to the Santa Rampage bike ride on 12/17 starting at the Twisted Spoke downtown. Only fully-dressed Santas, elves, or dreidels are allowed (homemade costumes are completely fine). Details in Slowdown.

DIY CTA Display

The CTA has provided developers, and those with "some computer savvy," the tools to create their own CTA arrival screens. Great for businesses who want to create a waiting area inside their warm establishments, or others who just want to shelter public transit users in a storm.

Watch Where You Park

Parking tickets are up 30 percent this year compared to last. Booting is down 2 percent, though.

The High Cost of Driving

Congratulations Chicago, you've been paying over three dollars a gallon for gas for a full year now, with the highest area average in May of $4.469, according to AAA.

Virtually Paint Your New Plane

Thanks to the power of the Internet, you too can paint your own Boeing Dreamliner for (delayed) delivery.

Towed or Stolen? Maybe Both.

Three tow-truck drivers have been arrested and more are being sought by police after an investigation found multiple cases of drivers stealing cars, often selling them for scrap.

Unique Holiday Gifts, Pt. 10

Poster Plus carries a limited number of CTA 'L' Map shower curtains and other gifts for Chicago-centric decorators, and transit travelers, alike.

I-GO Launches Electric Vehicle Project

I-GO will add 36 electric cars and 18 solar-powered charging stations across the city. The stations will consist of a 4-space canopy with 44 solar panels- the whole project capable of saving 17,000 gallons of gas annually.

Reminder: Move Your Car

Don't forget, Chicago's winter overnight parking ban starts tonight at midnight. Here's a list of affected streets, and the Expired Meter shares plenty of details and resources.

The Slow Hand of Justice

A parking enforcement aide was recently charged with taking a $20 bribe to make a ticket "go away" -- in 2009.

Walk Across the Street Again

Visitors to Buckingham Fountain will be pleased to know that they can once again walk across Lake Shore Drive without redirecting to the nearest intersection.

CTA Shows Off Its New Ride

The CTA posted a video highlighting its shiny new "5000-series" railcars. They have hydraulics -- but not the exciting kind.

Fly the Unfriendly Skies

O'Hare is first and Midway is seventh on The Daily Beast's list of the worst airports in America

Looping Video

Michael Salisbury takes a ride around the Loop.

The Loop from Michael Salisbury on Vimeo.

Make the Disabled Pay for Parking

The Expired Meter has a revenue suggestion for the City: make disabled drivers pay for parking, now that 1 in 13 vehicles in Cook County now have handicapped plates and placards.

The Pride & Joy of Chicago Avenue

Aaron Kraus drew the people of the #66 Bus

A Moving Gallery

The CTA unveiled an online gallery of public art in its stations. [via]

Your Debit Card is Your Transit Card

Or it will be, along with credit cards, if a proposal for a fare-collection technology upgrade for the CTA wins approval. UPDATE: The proposal passed.

A Quarter More to the Burbs

Trips to and from the suburbs are getting more expensive: Metra approved a roughly 25 percent fare hike today.

See a Shiny, New L Car!

The newest L cars went into service at 2:30 yesterday. You can see video of the cars if you weren't one of the few to ride it.

Speed Cameras a Cash Cow

The proposed speed camera program could net the City several times more revenue than the red light cameras, according to research obtained by the Expired Meter.

Another Way to Find the Train

QuickTrain is another iPhone CTA tracker app, with the distinction of being very good looking.

Billion Dollar Upgrade for the Red Line

The CTA secured a $1 billion in funding to overhaul the Red Line. The tracks between 18th and 95th will relaid and the Wilson and Clark/Division stops will be completely rebuilt under the plan.

Expanding the Other Airport

Well, sort of. The City is looking to knock down four buildings surrounding Midway to create "runway protection zones" -- buffers at each end of the runways in case a plane overshoots.

Mixing Jet Fuel and Gardens

Air travel may not be particularly environmentally friendly, but the Chicago Department of Aviation is greening its airports with everything from aeroponic gardens to solar panels.

Adding and Subtracting Punitive Surveillance

Just as the state is thinking about expanding the abilities of Chicago traffic cameras, Naperville is eliminating the cameras a year early.

Following Sustainable Transportation

Grid Chicago has launched a network -- really, more of an informal feed of sites that share a focus on active and sustainable transportation options.

Owls, Swifts & Other Birds

The CTA's official Twitter account launched today, as part of the agency's renewed social media efforts. There's a Facebook page, too.

Stranded No More

To avoid Snowmageddon-style traffic jams in the future, the City is causing one for a couple weeks: Construction began this morning on emergency turn-arounds on Lake Shore Drive.

Speed Camera Bill Passes Senate

The state senate passed a bill allowing speed cameras to be installed in safety zones across Chicago. If it passes the House, we could see nearly half the city's streets monitored by the cameras.

Greener Cabs Cost More Green

The City is looking at overhauling taxi regulations for the first time in 20 years with an eye toward "greening" the fleet. Coupled with continued high gas prices and a City Council proposal to add a buck to fares, the upshot is taking a cab is getting much more expensive soon.

Speed Cameras? No Way.

Mayor Emanuel wants to add speed cameras to the city streets in addition to the red light cameras. Aldermen are just as upset by the idea as most of you probably are.

Bridges in Trouble

Nearly one in 10 of Chicago area bridges is "structurally deficient" and in need of repair or replacement, according to a study by Transportation for America.

Digging Under Downtown

On Oct. 16, 1943, work on Chicago's subway began. (Of course, even then it wasn't the first underground train line downtown.)

No Parking in the Bicycle Lane

Remember how the Kinzie cycle track was supposed to be for bicycling? Someone needs to tell drivers looking for a parking place.

The Bike Path to Inequality

The News Cooperative notes that the city's planned bike paths are mostly in affluent neighborhoods, while only one is planned for a lower income area. Christopher Gray touched on this issue in his June Tailgate article about cycling on the South Side. UPDATE: Steve Vance reports at Grid Chicago that community meetings about bike plans are now in the works.

Want Better Treatment in Bike Lanes?

According to Crain's, you've got to dress the part.

Tracking the CTA

Grid Chicago's Steve Vance assesses the state of CTA train trackers.

Historic Muscle Cars from Chicago

A recent NY Times article mentions Nickey Chevrolet, a Chicago car dealership that became one of the most important in the muscle car era. Among its products was the famous Purple People Eater Corvette.

Speeding Gets You a Speedy Ticket

The CPD is trying out a new "quick ticket" device that speeds up the whole traffic ticket process.

Freakish Display of Concentration and Strength Now Illegal

You can't ride a bicycle and text at the same time anymore.

An Immodest Proposal for the CTA

In Mechanics, Ramsin Canon and John Fitzgerald share a proposal for three new CTA lines by 2020. It's so un-crazy, it just might work. Further reading: Craig Berman's 2055 proposal from back in '05, and Chris Gray's more recent report on the impact of the Red Line extension plan.

Don't Text & Bike

City Council will consider an ordinance tomorrow making it illegal to text while on a moving bicycle.

Sorting Out the Commute

If you've been paying attention, you've noticed a bunch of contradictory rankings of how bad our traffic is. Whet Moser explains.

Full-Size Lego Ford Explorer in Chicago

Exactly what it sounds like -- and it only took 2,500 hours.

Decoding the Traffic Report, Redux

Domu takes a crack at explaining Chicago's many traffic landmarks and terminology. You might also like our own guide to Chicago traffic reports, or traffic reporter Sarah Jindra's handy PDF (previously). Meanwhile, apparently road congestion is improving a little bit.

Less Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue from Illinois Avenue to Oak Street will be among Streeterville streets under construction starting Wednesday. The Mag Mile will be torn up through mid-November -- but hopefully done before Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

A L of an Improvement

Some major renovations are in the works by the CTA, including updating the Red Line's Clark/Lake station, consolidating two stops at a new Washington/Wabash station, and more.

How to Drive in Chicago

Not all of this advice is strictly good.

Your Private Car is Here

Uber a private car service you set up via web or phone app, officially launched in Chicago yesterday. Now, for a minimum of $15, you can press a button and a black car will show up out front to pick you up.

Trucking Slowly Through the Circle

The Circle Interchange (the what?) is the worst trucking bottleneck in the country, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. The 90-94 junction got on the list both northbound (#8) and south (#32).

Bigger "I-Go for Bikes" Coming

The City is requesting bids for a bike sharing program similar to the private Chicago B-cycle, aiming for 3,000 bikes downtown and in the neighborhoods by next summer.

It's Chicagoland Car-free Day!

Hopefully you didn't drive to work like I just did.

Underhanded Handling of Under Tracks Parking

The CTA recently added the spots under the Blue Line tracks in Wicker Park to its list of paid monthly parking locations. Problem is, it barely spread the word before the tow trucks got to work.

Thanks for the Advice

Apparently the Trib thinks we can't cut it in the new job market, so they've selected their favorite bank robbery getaway cars for us.

No Hikes or Service Cuts for Pace in 2012

Unlike CTA and Metra riders, users of Pace won't see price increases or service cuts for the 2012 year.

Bike or Phone: Pick One

City Council's proposing to extend the cell-phone ban to cyclists, under the logic that the "common-sense ordinance" should apply to drivers of any vehicle.

Chicago's Commute 3rd Least Painful

We have either the worst traffic congestion in the country or the third worst, but either way, it apparently doesn't bother us much.

A Car Museum Closer than Volo

Larry Klairmont is opening a new car museum in Chicago on Sept. 25 with more than 350 cars. The Sun-Times has an extensive slideshow.

Help Choose the 2012 Bike Winter Sticker

Bike Winter, Chicago's advocate for year-round cycling, is selecting its 2012 sticker. To help choose, take a look at previous stickers and then take the survey.

Impounded Car Makes a Break for It

A South Side man recently got a red light ticket in suburban Willowbrook for a car that was supposedly in an impound lot for months. When he checked at the lot, he was informed that the car had been destroyed, despite the fact that he was paying off fines on a payment plan.

Labor Day at the Pump

Gas prices in Chicago are the highest in the country, which may curtail Labor Day weekend travel.

Ford & Zipcar Go to School -- and a Contest

Ford and Zipcar announced a partnership yesterday that brings the hourly car rental service to Chicago colleges. Ford is pitching in a discount on Focus and Escape rentals, and the first 100,000 new Zipcar members will get their annual membership for $20 instead of the usual $30. I was asked to offer some ideas of places to go (click the CHI tab) -- and they've offered up a contest for Gapers Block's readers.

Zipcar is offering a free Zipcar membership for one year, and Ford is offering $250 worth of driving time. To enter, send an email to contests-at-gapersblock.com with the subject line "Zip it" by 5pm today -- make sure to include your full name in the body of the email. Good luck! UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats, Margaret!

Disclosure: I was paid for my time on the video.

Parking Apps for Chicago

SpotHero won the Apps for Metro Chicago last weekend. Second place was another parking-oriented app, FasPark.

Designing Bike Friendly Streets

HowIAlmostDiedToday.com is among the projects created for Moving Design's Call to Action's Our Road, a multidisciplinary gallery exhibition and public engagement campaign on the advancement of bicycle safety showing in the Comfort Station on Logan Square this Sunday.

The Effects of a Red Line Extension

In Mechanics, Christopher Gray takes a look at the impact on neighborhoods near the proposed Red Line extension on the South Side.

All Electric Driving

Nissan bumped up its timeline for introducing the all-electric Leaf in Chicago by a year. Now the cars will be available as early as October.

How Would You Like Transit Improved?

The Active Transportation Alliance just launched a new advocacy program called Riders for Better Transit as "a voice for riders who want to boost transit funding and encourage transit-related projects that will benefit your community." Fill out a a survey about your transportation desires for a chance to win a $100 gift card and to learn how to get involved.

This Is Grand

Check out the minimalist, typographical transit maps of TRNSPRTNATION.

Ride the Mysterious Train

Imprint also recently took a look at the Green Hornet and other vintage Electroliner trains in Chicago. (Thanks again, Dee!)

Bus Rapid Transit: the Future of Commuting?

The Metropolitan Planning Council released a feasibility study on bus rapid transit in Chicago yesterday. The CTA proposed a bus rapid transit line for Jeffrey Boulevard earlier this summer.

No More Street Sweeping Tickets

Sweep Around Us tells you when your street is scheduled for sweeping next, and can send you an email to remind you to move your car. It was created by FoGB Scott Robbin, who also built Was My Car Towed (previously).

Next Stop, Deterioration

Nearly nine months after an investigation showed significant dry rot on recently renovated Brown Line platforms, nothing appears to have been done to address the issue. Residents are rallying the troops on EveryBlock. (Thanks, Shylo!)

Tomorrow's Cars Today

BMW brought its i3 and i8 electric concept cars to Chicago to film a commercial this week.

Watch Where You Walk

The city's crosswalks aren't safe: that's where most pedestrians are when they're hit by vehicles, according to IDOT research. The map tells the tale.

Killing Potholes Before They Kill You

CDOT is testing four automated "Pothole Killer" machines capable of filling the average pothole in less than 60 seconds. Watch it in action.

Legally Cruising in the Stevenson Shoulder

A new commuter bus initiative will allow express buses to utilize the Stevenson's shoulder when traffic is moving slower than 35mph.

Dollars for Donuts on the CTA

CTA chief Forrest Claypool said there won't be a fare increase this year, but maybe in 2012. Perhaps the 10 new Dunkin' Donuts approved for CTA stations are helping keep fares down.

Metering Nothing

The last 72 electronic parking meters were installed earlier this summer in nearly deserted parts of the near South Side, to the tune of at least $430,000. The Expired Meter spot-checked three of the meters at random and found that literally nobody had used them in five weeks.

Be a Pedestrian

The Chicago Pedestrian Plan picked up its pace this summer with a bunch of meetings, the next of which will be at Truman College. If you can't make it, fill out an online "comment card."

The Friendly Skies Delayed

According to data compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 32 of the most frequently delayed flights in the past year departed from or arrived at O'Hare. Newark has the most of any airport with 40 flights.

Obama Takes Over the Red Line Station

President Obama will be in town later today for an early birthday party/fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom. As a result, you won't be able to enter or exit at the Red Line Lawrence stop between 5:30 and 9:45pm.

Park on the Street

Now you can take the cycle track to the city's first on-street bike parking installation.

Parking's Not So Magic

The test "ParkMagic" program that let you pay for parking by cellphone has been quietly canceled. You probably forgot it even existed.

Next Redone Stop: Loyola

Loyola University unveiled a renovation plan for its namesake Red Line station. Work may start as soon as next month. [via]

Hit & Run Tumbles

A cyclist named Carly was involved in a hit-and-run accident with a Nissan 350z this morning at Milwaukee and Ogden, and has set up a site to collect information about the fleeing driver. (Seems like this could be a service, as often as it happens...)

Chicago's First Protected Bike Lane

Chicago officially completed its first protected bicycle lane on Kinzie Street between Milwaukee and Wells on Monday. The lane separates cyclist traffic from vehicle traffic by using flexible posts and painted pavement signals; read about early reactions to the lane in Tailgate. Next continuation plans are expected for Jackson Street between Halsted Street and Damen Avenue.

Fly Our Friendly Uniforms

Remember Chicago Express Airlines? Me neither. Its flight attendant uniform and others from American, Midway and United are among more than a thousand in this massive collection. [via]

Park it in Logan Square

Parking your car, that is--Logan Square alderman Rey Colon was able to introduce and successfully pass a new ordinance that allows for free parking along Kedzie and Logan Boulevards for up to 16 hours each day that will go into effect in the coming weeks. Residents aren't happy.

A Nice Place to Pound the Pavement

WalkScore.com has ranked the "walkability" of thousands of U.S. cities. Out of the 50 largest cities, Chicago comes in 4th. The most walkable Chicago neighborhood? Printers Row.

Mailmen Don't Like Bikes

Postal workers don't care that the Kinzie Street cycle track is off limits to motorized vehicles; they'll park there if they damn well please.

The Reading Railroad

There's a movement afoot to transform a former CTA station in Washington Park into a public library.

El Oh El

A new blog, Oh, L No!, is looking for your stories of mishaps and misbehavior on the CTA.

PSA: Watch Out for 13-year-olds Driving SUVs

And keep an eye on your keys.

This is a Stick-up

Today's the last day to get your new city sticker for your vehicle. The Parking Ticket Geek has a guide to avoiding the long lines to get it done today.

"Up in the Air" for Real

Meet Tom Stuker, an Chicago-based automotive industry consultant who on Saturday became the first passenger to log 10 million miles on United Airlines.

Going "Apple Picking"

Thefts of iPhones and other smartphones are skyrocketing on the CTA.

Making Your Way

Mapnificent shows how far you can get in the city on public transportation or foot within a certain amount of time -- such as from Chicago and Michigan in 30 minutes.

Ghosts of L Stations Past

There were once more than 227 miles of elevated train tracks in Chicago. Forgotten Chicago digs up what remains of several train lines demolished by the CTA over the years.

Everybody Better Click It

Starting January 1, 2012, all Illinois car passengers, regardless of age or where they're seated in the car, have to buckle their seat-belts. Not a requirement just for drivers and front seat passengers anymore, you back seat drivers better get used to buckling up (except in buses, cabs, and emergency vehicles). Gov. Quinn signed the legislation into law today.

A Posthumous Award

William Butler Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, was inducted into the National Railroad Hall of Fame for his work making the city one of the nation's railroad centers.

Simulating the Brown Line

A MetaFilter thread about the venerable Chicago-L.org led me to Railfan, a 2006 PS3 game simulating the Brown Line. You can find it used on Amazon and elsewhere, but it's not cheap.

Biking the Grid

Grid Chicago is a new blog by frequent GB contributor John Greenfield and transportation planner Steven Vance, covering "sustainable transportation in Chicago and Illinois." They recently answered the question of what happens when a bike lane disappears.

Meet the Dreamliner

Now that Boeing is finally almost ready with its 787, ANA released its special livery and long-haul interior design for the first 787s to enter a carrier's fleet.

Flying Over Englewood

A new bridge is being built from 57th Place to 69th Street, but it's not for pedestrians or cars. It's for trains.

We (Don't) Luv U

A Southwest pilot's rant about having to work with a Chicago-based flight crew composed of "gays, grannies, and grandes" was accidentally transmitted over the air traffic control frequency in March. The pilot was temporarily suspended and required to take a diversity education class, which I hope was led by an overweight, older lesbian.

Stop at the Crosswalk

Gold Coast drivers, watch for pedestrians tonight; the CPD is planning a sting to enforce crosswalk rules. (It's illegal not to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, you know.)

My Other Car is a Bicycle

A new specialty license plate reminding drivers to share the road with bicycles has been approved, and will be printed as soon as the state gets 1,500 pre-orders. The Illinois League of Bicyclists currently counts 1,185 reservations. [via]

Dude, Where's My Car?

FoGB Scott Robbin created a great app from City of Chicago open data that I hope I never have to use. Was My Car Towed works online, or from your smartphone browser.

Rent-a-Spot

Got an extra parking space? SpotHero is a new startup that'll help you rent it out -- or help you find one to rent if you need one.

See, it's Really not My Fault!

WBEZ's Kate Dries was surprised when handed a bus delay slip from her bus driver Wednesday morning, so she looked into the practice.

Street Change is Gonna Come

Honorary Sam Cooke Way will be unveiled in Bronzeville this weekend. Read our feature on Cooke's Chicago legacy. [via]

Chicagoans on Cycle Tracks

In Tailgate, John Greenfield reports on cyclists' and neighbors' reactions to the new Kinzie Street cycle track.

Protecting Bicyclists in the Street

The city's first major separated bike lane, a cycle track, is under construction in the Fulton River District, and the Chicago Journal has images.

The Love Train

The CTA is the most romantic transit system in the country, according to Craigslist.

Accident on Metra, Smoke on CTA

Two Metra trains collided at Union Station this morning, injuring 12. A passenger on one of the trains shared live updates on Reddit. Meanwhile, a "blue flash and boom" possibly caused by a blown fuse, filled the Red Line tunnel with smoke and sent riders into a panic.

Sticker Time

In other city services news, today is the first day to pick up new city stickers for your car. Buy yours online.

CTAttoo

Beyond lending street cred, this tattoo helps its owner with pesky questions from tourists. (At least it's easier to reference than the last one we linked to.)

Bike Corral Coming

Wicker Park will be the first neighborhood to get dedicated on-street bicycle parking this summer.

Stick'em Up

This year's city stickers are on sale now, two weeks earlier than last year. (And presumably stickier, too.)

The El in 1907

On Shorpy.

"Aces High"

Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson will soon be piloting flights from Chicago to Reykjavik.

Alley Entrepreneurs

The Expired Meter looks into the thriving black market for guest parking passes in Wrigleyville.

Commute on Two Wheels

It's time once again to sign up for the Bike Commuter Challenge from the Active Transportation Alliance.

Doors Open on the Right at Beef Wellington

A new, sadly unofficial sign greeted CTA riders at the Wellington stop this morning.

beefwellington.jpg
[via]

Thanks, Florida!

Yesterday Illinois was awarded nearly $200 million in federal high-speed railroad construction funds rejected by Florida's Republican governor. The bonus will go to the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail initiative.

Your Private Car is Coming

Uber, a startup private car service, is on its way to Chicago soon.

Chicago Gas Prices at All-Time High

AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report puts average Chicago unleaded gas prices at $4.387, the highest they've ever been. For comparison, the average price was $3.112 a year ago.

The City That Worked, At Least Once

Our Lady of the Fullerton Underpass may have just granted her first miracle. Damen-Elston-Fullerton, that most frustrating of intersections is finally on it's way to an update, and it's a big one. Expired Meter has the details on a reroute that might actually work and appears to keep the hallowed Elston Ave bike route intact.

Pinched at the Pump

The Center for Neighborhood Technology has created a gas price slider to show how much rising prices affect a household's transportation costs. Short answer: a whole lot.

Pouring Gas on Sprawl's Wounds

The NY Times recently reported on a developer in far north suburban Richmond who's giving away cars with his homes. Grist's Sarah Goodyear couldn't help but note the irony of enticing folks with a car for the 50-mile commute when gas is so expensive.

We're Number One!

I wish that title was sports related. Unfortunately, it's a record I'd gladly give away, we're paying the most for our gas.

Counting the Doors

Good news for bikers: The state is going to start keeping track of dooring accidents. So next year Steve Vance's bike crash map (previously) will be much more robust.

Claypool Transportation Agency

On a day when a derailment near Belmont caused all sorts of snafus, Mayor-elect Emanuel named Forrest Claypool to head the CTA.

The Megabus Effect

...is apparently lines of people standing on the sidewalk down the block from Union Station, waiting for a cheap ride to Des Moines.

Doors Open on the Left, Your Majesty

The Art Institute has installed a throne (sort of) in certain CTA cars to promote its exhibit "Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France." Snap a photo of yourself sitting in one and post it on Facebook to enter the "Royal Treatment" contest.

Text Alerts Against Tickets

If you live in the 1st Ward, you have a weapon against street sweeping tickets: AntiTow.

Paper Airplanes

The 2-D kind, but nonetheless wonderful and detailed: a series of airplane prints put out by The Post Family's Rod Hunting.

Swapping One Parking Regulation for Another

The winter parking ban ends today, which means you can park on all those major thoroughfares again. Unless street sweeping signs or up, since that starts tomorrow at 9am.

How We Get Around

The Center for Neighborhood Technology rounds up all the city's transportation options in a post connected to its Abogo transportation cost tool.

Revising the Red & Purple Lines

The Reader's cover story this week takes a look at the CTA's Red and Purple Modernization Plan and how those train lines could be improved today. (You might also be interested in our own CTA Map for 2055, back in 2005.)

Tracy Swartz, CTA Centurion

The Red Eye's Tracy Swartz has been riding the CTA's many bus lines since 2009, and this Friday will be her 100th run. To commemorate, she's giving away 100 single-use fare cards -- follow her on Twitter for clues where to get them.

From Bridgeport to Rogers Park

Joseph Askins is riding the Red Line with a video camera, profiling each station for YoChicago. First off is Sox-35th.

Forum on Getting Around in Uptown

46th Ward aldermanic candidates James Cappleman and Molly Phelan hold a joint forum on pedestrian, biking and transit issues in Uptown tonight at 7pm in Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Rd.

No Lame Duck

Mayor Daley isn't spending his last months in office just sitting around. He's headed to China to try to draw new business to Chicago, and is still lobbying for his high-speed train to O'Hare.

Racing Technologies in a Blizzard

We mentioned it last year, but the Atlantic digs deeper into the first car race in America and finds an interesting angle: it was also pitted gas versus electric. The magazine shares a first-hand published account of the race, too.

Urban Reflections of Transportation Technology

BLDGBLOG's recent interview with Greg Lindsay identifies Chicago as an exemplar of a city that reflects its railroad heritage, in contrast to contemporary cities which may soon be direct responses to their airports.

The Future of North Lake Shore Drive

Ideas for the long-term overhaul of the northern section of Lake Shore Drive range from reworking the S-curve at Oak Street to consolidating as many as three interchanges.

The Grid: Congress Conducts El at Cal's

Today we release the second feature in GB's short film series The Grid. "Congress Conducts El at Cal's" explores the construction congestion at Congress Parkway through the music and activity at Cal's, a nearby hangout and liquor store.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

The 1950s were an important era for transportation in Chicago.

A plane crash at Midway, 1955:

A Rock Island Line promotional film from 1950:

Street scenes in the 1950s:

Turning on Red

The Parking Ticket Geek shares news of a new effort to restrict red light cameras.

Art on Wheels

If you biked through the winter, you deserve to celebrate -- and even if you didn't, the 14th Annual Bike Winter Art Show, opening this Friday, promises a good time. Chicago Freak Bike makers will be on hand to demonstrate some of their delightfully impractical creations, and more than 50 artists' work will be on display. Check out Slowdown for more details.

How's the Path?

The Active Transportation Alliance has started a new Twitter feed just perfect for cyclists who want to know what to expect on the lakefront paths. Follow @activetransLFT for the latest information, or send them your own observations to help out others.

Streets of Old

Peruse UIC's collection of IDOT Chicago Traffic Photographs from the 1930s and you'll find shots of Lake Shore Drive under construction, Sheridan and Irving Park and a very snowy South Shore and 67th.

GoogleMap Gapers Block

Google is taking another stab at offering real-time traffic info on Google Maps, with Chicago as a test. Check it out here

It's All Up in the Air

When it comes to flights landing at O'Hare and Midway, the O'Hare's planes usually get priority. Midway and Southwest Airlines are testing a new navigation system that'll hopefully eliminate some of the delays. Meanwhile, Chicago Rockford International still hopes to take some business away from both Chicago airports.

Get Off at 22nd Street

What, you don't know where that is? That's because 22nd has been Cermak Road since 1933. Someone should probably tell IDOT.

Saving Grace

The five-minute grace period on parking tickets is set to expire April 1 -- but Ald. Scott Waguespack has introduced an amendment to make the ordinance permanent.

Walk to the Train

Carfree Chicago lists the city's least walkable CTA stops; unsurprisingly, they're all on the South and West sides. [via]

Bikes Ahead

Speaking of bicycles, the newly released Bike 2015 Plan will be used to guide the City's plans to make Chicago more bike-friendly in the next four years. [via]

Get on the Cycle Track

The Chicago Department of Transportation is testing a new type of bike lane; you'll be heading down to Stony Island Avenue between 69th and 77th streets to try it out once it debuts... in 2014.

The Candidates on Transit

The CTA Tattler checked into the major mayoral candidates' positions on public transportation, and found Gery Chico strangely silent.

One Vehicle at the Auto Show You Definitely Won't Purchase

The Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is showing a different kind of vehicle at this year's auto show: the Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle.

Pick Up Your Dibs

Streets & San will start disposing of old chairs, cardboard boxes, plastic penguins and whatever else you leave in your parking space on Friday.

It's Not Just You and Your Phone

CTA Tracker is having technical problems.

Ladies Who Sometimes Brunch and Often Bike

If you're a lady who likes to bike, and want to meet up with like-minded women, check out Let's Go Ride a Bike.

Auto Show Time

The 2011 Chicago Auto Show opens to the public today. We've got a taste of what you'll encounter in Tailgate.

"The Chicago Executive"

If United is really hurt for business, they might consider bringing back this men-only "club in the sky" from the 1950s -- though a women-only version would most definitely be in order as well.

the chicagoe executive

Meter Deal: Unethical?

City clerk and mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle believes the parking meter deal violated the city's ethics ordinance, and has asked the attorney general's office to investigate.

Parking Rules Back in Action

The warm and fuzzy feeling of parking wherever you can has ended now that the snow is (somewhat) under control; enforcement begins tomorrow at 9am in the central business district (the area bounded by Roosevelt, Halsted, Oak, and Lake Shore Drive), and everywhere else in the city by 9am on Tuesday.

CTA: #1 in Our Hearts, #3 in Ridership

GOOD has released this infographic that compares the country's five largest transit systems. Where does the CTA rank?

Airlines Roll Eyes Over O'Hare Expansion

Crain's reports that American and United Airlines think plans for an O'Hare expansion amount to a "bridge to nowhere."

Dig In; Dibs Out

Chair Free Chicago, the anti-dibs campaign, is organizing a parking space shovel-out in Bridgeport this afternoon from 1 to 3pm.

Oh, Just Park Wherever

Parking enforcement has been (unofficially, temporarily) suspended due to the havoc the blizzard wreaked on the city's streets. The City also gave tacit approval of dibs -- for now.

Hacking Through the Blizzard

Dmitry Samarov tells his own blizzard story from behind the wheel of a cab.

Brighter News for LSD Strandees

Motorists whose vehicles got stuck on Lake Shore Drive last night won't be charged for towing, the City says. If you were one of them, call 311 to find out where your car is.

What to Expect

The Tribune gives you a sense of what to expect regarding transportation, utilities and hospitals today.

Snow Tow Zone

You know those signs that say "No Parking When Snow is Over 2 Inches"? Well, don't ignore them today: the City has put that rule into effect in advance of the blizzard.

Red and Purple Lines Safe for Now

The CTA says it has no plans to close stops the Red or Purple lines.

Boats Ahoy

The maritime prelude to the Chicago Auto Show, Strictly Sail Chicago, is at Navy Pier all weekend.

Save the Jarvis Stop

The CTA is considering permanently closing the Jarvis Red Line stop -- as well as two Purple Line stops in Evanston. Voice your concerns at a public meetings tonight and tomorrow.

Show Your Pride/Know Your Enemy

Starting today, you can order Cubs specialty license plates for your car. You could already get Blackhawks plates; no word on when Bears, Sox or Fire plates will debut.

#1 in Traffic Jams

Traffic congestion is now worse here than in Los Angeles.

Don that Helmet! Ride that Bike!

Don't forget: today is Winter Bike to Work Day!

Metering Out Justice

That guy who got a parking ticket while being filmed paying for parking? His ticket has been dismissed.

Narrow Road Ahead

Lawrence Avenue between Ashland and Western will be narrowed to three lanes (one in each direction and a shared left turn lane) in a trial to reduce the size of the city's streets.

CTA Train Tracker Rolls Out Of The Station

The CTA released their beta test of the Train Tracker, giving train riders the same opportunity to compulsively check their smartphones that bus riders currently enjoy.

Help the Wheels Go 'Round & 'Round

A.V. Club's Marah Eakin explains how not to be a dick to and on the bus.

Expand Transit

The Chicago Rapid Transit Coalition aims to "argue and advocate for the expansion of subways, elevated lines and light rail throughout Chicagoland." They've got a few ideas to propose. (We have one of our own.)

UA 727 Flying, then Driving to its New Home

GB flickr pool contributor cmraseye posted some photographs of the Museum of Science and Industry's 727 en route to the museum in 1992. Here's a news clip from the day for video of the landing and some additional background.

Jindra's-Eye View of Traffic

If you're a little short on details for the new car and pedestrian routes around the latest Wacker Drive construction in the Loop, then this helpful video by WBEZ traffic reporter Sarah Jindra is for you.

Another Proposed Rail Line in Peril

Yet another proposed Chicago-to-Wherever passenger railroad line may not get built. This time, it's the connection to Iowa City.

Taxi Fuel Surcharge Takes Effect

As I reported last week, taxis will begin adding a $1 fuel surcharge (up from 50 cents) to fares starting at midnight tonight.

Walking the Plank

As Brown Line riders already know, its $530 million renovation has had some significant problems, among them the wooden planks that started deteriorating as early as August 2008.

Track That Train

The CTA will finally launch a train tracker site, similar to its popular Bus Tracker, in January.

Taxi Fuel Surcharge Could Kick in Next Week

Get ready to pay extra to cab it in 2011. If the price of gas prices average $3.20 or more for seven consecutive days, Chicago cabs can add a $1 fuel surcharge onto fares. Gas went above $3.20 on Dec. 22 and has stayed above that mark ever since, so that surcharge could kick in on Monday at midnight.

Why Monday? Well, the 24th and 31st are considered holidays, so they don't count for the seven business days. Which means that, assuming gas prices don't drop below $3.20 before Monday, the surcharge will trigger at 12:01am Tuesday, Jan. 4. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, which the City uses as the official record for the surcharge, the average as of today is $3.304; ChicagoGasPrices.com puts it at $3.324 and stable.

A spokeperson said the City was "98 percent sure" the surcharge would go into effect, and was preparing for it. Cabs are already tacking on a 50-cent surcharge because the price of gas is above $2.70; this lower-tier surcharge has been in effect since Oct. 29, 2009. The new surcharge adds an additional 50 cents, and will remain until gas prices dip under $3.20 again for seven consecutive business days.

Dmitry Samarov, an artist and writer who documents his experiences driving a cab, doesn't like the surcharge. "There are several problems here: when drivers add extras to the meter, many riders get suspicious and our tips suffer, [and] the surcharge is unfair to riders going short distances, as they're charged the same as longer fares." He said most drivers would like to see a fare increase enacted, "but the recession gave the city cover to kill that." In November aldermen Ed Burke and Carrie Austin proposed a $1 surcharge to help correct city budget shortfall. But none of that fee would go to taxi drivers, ignoring months of lobbying by drivers for a 22 percent fare increase.

Meter Rates to Rise

Parking meter rates are set to increase by a quarter or more on Jan. 1, cementing our position as the most expensive city to park in.

Traveling While Disabled

Holiday travel may have been hell this weekend, but people with disabilities faced extra challenges.

Time to Go Back to Counting Lessons

Remember that misreporting of traffic delays from Canadian National trains? The federal Surface Transportation Board just levied its first fine ever for the violation: $250,000.

Elston Bus in the Future?

A couple alderman are encouraging the CTA to bring a bus line back to Elston Avenue to support the burgeoning commercial district east of Western.

Prepare Your "Pawssport"

The Trib takes us behind the scenes at Valley Air Service, 10 to 15 percent of whose executive charter flights are for pets.

No Stone Left Unturned

Thought you'd stick it to the city by taking a cab instead of feeding a meter? Aldermen Burke and Austin are one step ahead of you. The Finance Committee's considering a dollar-per-cab-ride surcharge that "could generate upwards of $70,000,000 in much needed [sic] annual revenue for the city."

Education is Key to Parking Legally

Time to vote on next year's city sticker design. Voting ends Dec. 12.

Taking a Stand Against Dibs

With the advent of our first snow, Chair Free Chicago launches.

Winter Towing Haul

The City snagged 215 vehicles in the first night of winter overnight parking restrictions.

Halsted Bridge Closing Tonight

And in other driving-related events happening tonight that you should know about, the Halsted Street bridge at Division is closing tonight at 7pm. The bridge will be replaced with a new structure, but the work means that the bridge will be closed for a year. At the WBEZ blog Justin Kaufmann is soliciting suggestions for alternate driving routes.

Seniors Ride Fraud

The RTA's "seniors ride free" program is being abused by people using borrowed or resold passes, sometimes originally held by dead people, FOX Chicago and the Better Government Association found.

Mail Safe Express

Should you need to, you'll be able to mail banned items to yourself from O'Hare, rather than having to throw it out.

Careful, Bike Riders

Another cyclist was attacked by a group of thugs in Humboldt Park near the United Center this weekend, but managed not to lose his bike. The MO of the attackers sounds exactly like one from last summer.

No More Orange Envelopes

Learn how to fight parking tickets (and avoid them in the first place) at a free seminar next week, presented by The Expired Meter and Ald. Scott Waguespack.

The Hidden Message of Security

Five Thirty-Eight's Nate Silver examines the explicit and implicit messages told by the new full-body scanners at airports, and compares them to Chicago's blue light cameras.

Don't Stick Around

The City has terminated the contract of the company that manufactured the unsticky city stickers.

A new AA.com

American Airlines launched a redesigned website today. Still not as nice as Dustin Curtis' from last year, but better than what they had.

Slippery When Wet

The remodeled Grand Red Line stop has a ramp along the steps for bikes, but it might not be ideal.

Check-In On the Fly

Booking domestic holiday air travel? Now, through the end of 2010, if you check in for your United flight on your mobile phone, you'll get 1,000 bonus miles.

Name That Train

It's been talked about for years, but it's finally happening: The CTA will sell naming rights to its stations and train lines. (Gee, I wonder what the North & Clybourn stop will be.)

How Far Can You Get on the CTA?

Mapnificent shows you where you can get to in a given amount of time (say, 15 minutes) on public transportation.

Santa Rides Free

It's never too early to start planning your trip on the CTA Holiday Train!

Riding Up the Branch

The North Branch Bicycle Trail will be extended another 4.2 miles to the east end of LaBagh Woods [PDF].

Fifty Years of Traffic

The Kennedy Expressway turns 50 years old today at 11am. Back then it was the Northwest Expressway and was both "the greatest highway in America" and "a scar 400 feet wide and 16 miles long that tore up one home after another."

Parking Permit Overhaul in the Works

Think there are too many permit parking zones? You're not alone, and now you have champions in the City Council.

Suggestion Board

Give a Minute is a new site asking, "What would encourage you to walk, bike and take CTA more often?" Answers so far range from filling potholes to cleaning up CTA trains to "a million hairy babies."

Look on the Shiny Side

Photographer Ian Merritt has launched Shiny Side, a site devoted to automotive photojournalism. Car porn, basically.

From the Future or Just Really Late?

It seems the CTA is having some trouble scheduling its trains.

Better than a Bumper Sticker

Blackhawks fans can now wear their pride on their license plates. The official BH plates will cost you an extra $40

Parking Meters Aren't the Only Pricey Parking

If you've ever thought that Chicago garage parking rates seem high, you're right. A new study shows that Chicago is the second most expensive U.S. city for first-hour parking rates and a top four member for other measures of cost.

Apple Has Arrived

The new Apple Store at North and Clybourn opens tomorrow at 10am, and the first 4,000 people will get a free t-shirt. One of the benefits of the new store? A renovated Red Line station that includes new public space.

Tickets Down, Boots Up

You're less likely to get a ticket this year, but if you have a couple on your record, you're more likely to get the boot.

A New Name for the Library L Station

Harold Washington's name will appear in one new place just as Mayor Daley's name will begin to slowly fade from signage.

MDW: First at Being Last

So far in 2010, 30 percent of flights have left Midway Airport more than 15 minutes late, according to the USDOT. That's more delays than any other airport, even O'Hare. Congratulations?

First Person Crash Report

One of the passengers on the #6 bus that crashed on Lake Shore over the weekend has posted his account of the accident. [via]

No Need to Chase that Taxi?

City Council may soon consider the recommendation of the Inspector General to require all Chicago taxis be trackable by an integrated GPS network.

Wallet Where You're Going

Which CTA stop are you going to? Just check your wallet.

The Relative Cost of Getting There

How much do you spend on transportation? Abogo from the Center for Neighborhood Technology shows you what the monthly average is for your neighborhood.

Decoding the Traffic Report

WBEZ's traffic reporter, Sarah Jindra, has put together a very useful guide to figuring out what traffic reporters like her are talking about. Gives me a convenient excuse to link to our own explanation of the traffic report terminology.

Nice Commute

Chicago has the easiest commute in the nation, apparently.

A New Way to Pay for the CTA?

The CTA issued an RFP for a new payment system, ideally one that will let riders pay fares with RFID enabled credit and debit cards, as well as proprietary transit cards.

Putting the Boats Away

The schedule of fall bridge raisings [PDF] on the Chicago River is out. Your first inconvenience will be this Saturday.

Gulls on the Wing

Two Mercedes gullwings: total car porn beautifully shot by Ian Merritt. (He's got a couple other drool-worthy vintage rides on his blog.)

Blackstone Bicycle Works Burned Again

The Blackstone Bicycle Works has been a victim of a fire for the second time in 10 years [right side of screen]. This time their building was spared, but they lost 400 bikes. If you'd like to help them rebuild, you can make a donation to the group through their website.

Another CTA App

How many are there now? Anyway, TreKing Chicago is one for Android users, available in free and $3 versions.

Wardrobe!

Oak Park is currently considering making some changes to their taxi ordinance, including a ban on drivers wearing "tank tops, swimwear, jogging suits, body shirts and sandals without socks" or "underwear as an outer garment."

DHH's New Car

37signals' David Heinemeier Hansson commissioned a one-of-a-kind Zonda supercar. It comes with its own luggage set and website.

There's no truth, however, to the rumor that DHH bought an Italian villa just so he can drive the Zonda HH in Italy. He will, however, have to travel to Italy to drive it: the car isn't street legal in the US.

Hitting the Highways Hard

Going somewhere this weekend? You're not going to be alone.

Behind the Scenes of a Taxi Traffic Accident

Dmitry Samarov's recent blog post documents what taxi drivers have to go through after getting into a traffic accident.

As Drivers, We Suck

Chicago ranks 167th out of 200 on Allstate Insurance's annual Allstate America's Best Drivers Report.

It's Critical

It's the last Friday of the month, which means Critical Mass hits the streets for tonight's commute. Kirstie Shanley examines the cultural phenomenon in Tailgate.

Promote the Joys of Winter Cycling

If you have some free time today and are itchin' to do some design work, Bike Winter is looking for a new sticker for this season. Check out some previous designs to get you going.

Garage Tries to be "Green"

Greenway Parking Garage, at Clark and Kinzie, is seeking LEED certification. The parking garage features twelve helical wind turbines, but might still have trouble shaking the irony of their slogan "Chicago's first earth friendly parking garage."

Better Walkability

The Center for Neighborhood Technology's transportation cost data has been added to WalkScore.com, making your walkability score in Chicago even more accurate.

It's Not a Quota

Make sure you pay the meters: the CPD was just told to get cracking on parking tickets.

That Seems... High

CTA buses average an accident a day.

Don't Tweet & Ride, Though

@ChicagoCyclists is a Twitter account where cyclists in the city can share tips, alerts and other bike-related info. Just tweet at the account and it automatically retweets to the list. (Thanks, Clint!)

Recycled Bikes in Humboldt

Ciclo Urbano is a new bike shop serving Humboldt Park and West Town. Much like Working Bikes, Ciclo Urbano offers refurbished rides in addition to parts and service.

Drivers, Put Down Your Phones

The Sun-Times reports on the parts of the city you're most likely to get ticketed for using a cellphone while driving.

Putting It All On The (Blue) Line

If you missed seeing the new CTA cars zooming on the Red and Green lines, now's your chance. Today the ten prototype 5000-series train cars will be tested on the Blue Line, and they'll be equipped with security cameras, door sensors, and electronic display maps.

Share and Share a Bike

Chicago launched its own bike-sharing program today, called B-Cycle, starting with 100 bikes in six locations all near downtown. (Previously.)

City Sticker Deadline Approaches

If you haven't yet gotten a city sticker for your car, you have until Friday.

Help After the Crash

The Active Transportation Alliance has launched a crash support support group and hotline, currently staffed by one person, to help you deal with a bike crash. (After you call 911, obviously.)

Airline Neglects Child for Eight Hours

United Airlines gets poor marks in childcare at O'Hare, but is the real story here that 9-year-olds are cool enough to be self-proclaimed vegetarians?

2040: A City's Odyssey

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's draft of Go to 2040, a plan for the Chicago area's next three decades, is available to read online. You can leave your comments for CMAP on the plan's site through August 6.

Snow, Ice and Trains

The next time you slip and fall on an icy L platform, remember the CTA has no official obligation to keep it clear.

In the Battle Between Good and Evil Robots, Your Commute May be Affected

Transformers 3's screencraft carnage has crashed-landed on Michigan Ave. If you're navigating downtown this weekend, keep in mind that some streets and sidewalks in the area will be closed and 22 bus routes will be disrupted. (The shooting tumbles into Wacker Dr. next week.)

And That's How the Michelin Man Got so Roly-Poly

Chicago will be the third U.S. city to become the subject of a Michelin Guide. Last November, the New Yorker went undercover with one of Michelin's (in)famously anonymous inspectors.

Polk No Longer a Free Ride

The CTA was surprisingly quick about fixing a spot at the unmanned Polk Street Red Line entrance where anyone skinny enough could squeeze through for a free ride.

Something's Not Right with Lake Shore Drive

Following the weekend's LSD lane closures, the city had to close two southbound lanes for additional buckling yesterday. Maybe it's time to look at a certain pavement contract.

The Original Transit Map

Speaking of maps of what to do near a particular train stop, we're reminded that Centerstage did it first.

What's Near That Stop?

Carfree Chicago is developing a crowdsourced map of restaurants, shops and activities near each CTA, Metra and South Shore Line stop in the city.

Montrose Hole II: The Taking of South Lake Shore Drive

A sinkhole opened up across four two southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive between Roosevelt Road and McCormick Place, closing the road to southbound traffic. Expect major traffic headaches to come. UPDATE: OK, the Sun-Times got a little hyperbolic with its initial report. The road has simply buckled, and crews expect to have it fixed by Tuesday morning.

Enjoy the CTA, Ride a Bike or Walk Tonight

If you're thinking about driving to the fireworks this evening, think again. Some North Side parking lots were full by mid-morning, and many more are either occupied by the police or full now.

Across the Country on "Goat Gas"

There's a Pontiac GTO headed our way this weekend on Route 66 -- which wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't powered by compressed natural gas.

City Sticker Deadline Slips

Haven't gotten your city sticker yet? For once, you're not too late. Due to an adhesive issue, the City is extending the deadline for getting a 2010 sticker for your vehicle until July 15, and bumping the grace period to July 30.

Carefully Crafted Code

The Software Craftsmanship Conference will be in Chicago this October; registration just opened.

Gas Guzzlers Goodbye

You'll soon see many more odd taxis plying the city's streets now that Ford had discontinued the Crown Victoria. More Chrysler 300 limos, too -- the Lincoln Town Car is also gone.

Bikes Everywhere!

New City's new issue is totally biketacular.

Dress that Underpass

Chicago-based artists can submit a design for one of 12 CTA and Metra underpasses needing some beautification in the 49th Ward (Rogers Park). Applications (PDF) are due by July 16th.

Bike Sharing Comes to Chicago

B-Cycle bike sharing service is launching in July with 100 bikes in six locations around the city. Like I-Go or Zipcar, you buy a membership and then get access to a bike when you need one for an hourly fee.

Take the Party Cab to the Party

You've heard about the singing cabbie, but have you ridden in the Party Cab?

Hired Meter Maids Back in Action

Parking meter enforcement resumes today. The Parking Ticket Geek did a little math to show how even with just a few ticket-writers on patrol, it adds up to big bucks.

Don't Panic

The CTA train that derailed today was apparently just a simulation (no wonder we didn't hear much about it). It's not the apocalypse; there have just been eight disaster simulations over the last five days.

It's Bike to Work Week

The weather may not cooperate, but the Active Transportation Alliance has tips and resources for your two-wheeled trip to and from work.

Crosstown Traffic

Whether or not you're going to the Blackhawks parade this morning, if you're going downtown, be aware that a number of bus routes will run detours from 10am until 1pm.

Fix a Flat to the Rescue

The Bike Lane, a new bike shop in Logan Square, offers a handy service: if you get a flat tire between Addison and Chicago, Kedzie and Halsted, call the shop and they'll send someone out to fix it for you.

Privatizing the CTA

In the Reader, Robert Loerzel takes a look at the era when Chicago's public transit services were in private hands. Do you think Chicago should privatize the CTA? Share your thoughts in Fuel.

Adding to the Trasit Apps Pile

Another transit app for your consideration: ChiTransit. (

Cameras Cause Crashers?

The red light cameras installed around the city might actually be increasing accidents rather than preventing them, one study claims.

New Bike Maps

The Active Transportation Alliance has teamed up with the Tawani Foundation and Pritzker Military Library(!?) to produce an updated Chicagoland bike map. As a result, there's now a map of area military sites.

Buster & Metrack Get You There

As mentioned in the recent Fuel thread, Buster is one of the best CTA bus tracker apps out there -- and if you ride Metra, you'll be interested to hear about Metrack, its sister rail schedule app.

A Brand New Plate

Designers take a crack at re-imagining some ho-hum license plates, including that of Illinois. (via)

The Seemingly Unticketable Car

How does a car avoid getting tickets despite repeatedly being parked by a yellow curb in Boystown all day? Hillbuzz, Second City Cop and The Expired Meter are on the case.

AZ Business Boycott Doesn't Include Cameras

The Cook County Board voted to boycott Arizona businesses in response the state's new immigration law -- but not before signing a contract with Scottsdale-based American Traffic Solutions for 20 more red light cameras.

Bad Traffic for Cars, Even Worse for Trucks

The Federal Highway Administration deemed three Chicago area junctions to be in the top ten trucking bottlenecks in the country. The FHWA hopes the trucking companies will use the information when planning routes. Here's to fewer trucks!

Plug & Go at Millennium Park

Millennium Garages has new electric charging stations for fancy electric cars like the Tesla roadster and the Chevy Volt. The charging stations will be free until Aug. 1, excluding parking cost. The cost to charge will be $1 to $2 per hour after the initial free period. Not a bad deal -- "filling up the tank" for say, six to 16 bucks. [via]

Burnham in Your Window

It's that time of year again: time for vehicle owners to buy their new city stickers. They're on sale online.

Correcting Travel Times with Your Phone

The removal of many of the Eisenhower's traffic travel sensors has caused IDOT to seek a new way of measuring traffic speed: Bluetooth.

Settlement Reached Over Derelict Road

After more than a decade of legal battles, Vulcan Materials Company, the operator of the mine that spectacularly closed Joliet Road, is to pay $40 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Ever Wanted to Own Drew Peterson's Motorcycle?

Well, now's your chance, and he'll potentially autograph it. Great...

Pay at the Pump

If you've filled up lately, you're not imagining things: Illinois gas prices are the highest in the nation.

I Like Ike

Guess who's got his own Facebook page? That's right, Ike — the Eisenhower Expressway Dog.

Consult Your Timetables

National Train Day is Saturday, May 8, and there's lots of stuff planned for Chicago's celebration at Union Station.

United & Continental Merger Monday?

Crain's and other sources are saying United and Continental will announce plans to merge on Monday. Chicago would likely remain the headquarters.

Illinois is Green on Gas

Illinois measures up well when it comes to gas consumption per capita. [via]

Don't Forget That Ticket

New service Parkzing will alert you if you get a ticket and remind you to pay it. [via]

Sailing Around the World in the Sky

A cloudy Chicago serves as an initial port of call for the Seymourpowell Aircruise design concept in this promotional video.

Waiting for the Train

Getting stuck waiting for a freight train to pass sucks. And it sucks a lot in Chicagoland: an independent audit found that Canadian National trains caused more than 1,400 delays of 10 minutes or longer in the last two months of 2009. CN's own audit reported just 14. They've got some explaining to do.

Bring Me a Martini, Will Ya Sweetheart?

Check out this United Air Lines ad from the good old male chauvinist pig days. Trapped on a plane with a bunch of drunks, all smoking cigars and pipes and stuffing themselves with steaks? Uh, I'll take the train.

Early Warning: Bridges Up Tomorrow

The first draw bridge day along the Chicago River is tomorrow; expect delays on both the roads and the El lines that cross the river starting around 9:30am.

Sweep Away Street Sweeping Tickets

StopParkingTickets.com is a new $10/year service that alerts you by text or email the day before street cleaning comes to your block, so you can move your car in time.

"How do we pay for this?"

The Illinois Toll Highway Authority needs $2 billion to fix I-90, and it's not clear how it's going to pay for the improvements.

Get Ready For That New Traincar Smell

The CTA is about to rollout its new fleet of L cars which sound pretty snazzy.

The Way We Used to Travel

A great collection of vintage CTA photos. [via]

Parking in the Parks

New electronic meters are starting to be installed in park district parking lots. The good news is, they're much cheaper than street parking.

Ride then Ride

The Active Transportation Alliance is pleased to report that Metra will be expanding its Bikes on Metra program.

Riding All the Buses

The Red Eye's Tracy Swartz is on a mission to ride every CTA bus line in the city. She just hit 50.

Steak and SUVs

In too good to be true automotive news, Hummer supporters will supposedly converge on Da Coach's steakhouse for meat and a press conference in hopes that doing so will save their trucks.

Tomorrow, We Walk

Bike to Work Week is a great success in Chicago, and so the Active Transportation Alliance is taking it a step further with Walk to Work Day tomorrow, April 2. Good thing the weather is cooperating.

Major Eisenhower Construction Starts Thursday

If your commute involves the Eisenhower Expressway, expect things to get even slower than usual starting April 1, when resurfacing begins on a 27-mile stretch of 290. The construction will cut lane counts from eight to four in some places. The work includes badly needed strengthening and reinforcing of the ultra-busy Congress Bridge.

Street Sweeping Changes May Make a Mess

The new "grid" based street sweeping plan would mean dirtier streets and more difficult parking, Aldermen Joe Moore and Vi Daley say. It also takes the sweepers out of aldermanic control. A special City Council session is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the plan.

Red Light Money Makers

Eleven red light cameras made the City $2 million or more between 2007 and 2009. Here's a map of their locations. [via]

Blue Lights on the Highway

Chicago police may soon patrol the expressways within the city if 450 state troopers are laid off due to budget cuts.

Protests and Park Place

Two more parking meter protests are planned for Saturday. And don't forget to read Ramsin's excellent piece at the economics and sustainability of the meter deal.

O'Hare Drops to Fourth

Fourth busiest airport in the world, that is. London's Heathrow and Beijing's Capital International.

For How Long Should a Bus be Cleaned?

The CTA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, the bus worker union, are fighting over the length of time busses should be cleaned during their fortnightly "deep cleaning." The time for 40-foot busses will be halved to two hours, while 60-foot busses will be cut a third to four hours.

Not a Full Body Massage

Those of you flying out of O'Hare today may be in the first group of those subjected to full-body scanning.

A Google Guide to Cycling in Chicago

The newest feature on Google Maps provides bicycle directions for many US cities, including Chicago. While some features like helping cyclists avoid steep inclines may not be particularly useful here, an instructional video does point out some helpful tidbits.

Seeing Red Lights

The red light cameras were hotly debated in today's City Council meeting. Ald. Ed Burke called the program a "money machine" that does little to improve safety. Meanwhile, there's a proposal to increase red light camera fines to $125, in part to pay for driving classes for violators. Share your thoughts on the red light cameras in Fuel.

Taking the Red Light Camera Fight Downstate

Activists against red light cameras are headed to Springfield this week in support of a bill that would ban the devices in Illinois.

Alley Speedbump Snags Victim

The rubber speedbumps the City has installed in some alleys apparently have a tendency to come apart -- in some cases putting metal spikes into tires and the bottoms of cars.

Metra Schedules ShortURLs

Paul McAleer finds it frustrating that Metra's train schedules are so hard to get to online, so he created a set of Bitly shortURLs for each one -- for your convenience as well as his.

Hailing Cabs is sooo Last Year

Sick of waiting in the cold, only to be overcharged and/or harassed by a sketchy cab driver? Here are some tips to help you get where you're going quickly and safely.

Going to the Auto Show?

Look out for worldcarshows.com's top five cars at the Chicago Auto Show.

Parking Meter Reprieve Passes; Photo Evidence Next?

Yesterday City Council passed Mayor Daley's proposal for a one-time five minute grace period on a parking ticket -- but only through April of next year. Meanwhile, one alderman is trying to make it so every parking ticket comes with photographic proof of the violation.

Get Your CTA Questions Answered

Not by the CTA itself, of course, but by the RedEye's CTA beat reporter, Tracy Swartz. She, Max Shron and Luke Joyner will be taking your questions on WindyCitizen starting at around 9am today.

How Many Times Have You Been Arrested?

Probably fewer than Clarence Ervin.

Picturing Transit, Before and After

Recent U of C grads Max Shron and Luke Joyner mapped and analyzed CTA travel times given the existing system and the proposed service cuts. Particularly interesting is that while most neighborhoods see slight reductions in service, some neighborhoods see significant changes, particularly late at night.

The Greens Line

The CTA has approved the Mobile Garden," a flatbed train car topped with a garden. The project's next step is to get non-profit status and begin fundraising. (Previously.)

Our "Successful Fiasco"

A former mayor of Indianapolis turned Harvard professor looks at Chicago's parking meter privatization and says it's a good deal no matter what the public thinks. (Further comments here.)

Faster Trains

Illinois has been awarded $1.23 billion to improve train speed. The money is from the $8 billion earmark set aside for high speed in last year's stimulus package.

Can't Avoid The Cuts

Mayor Daley says CTA service cuts are unavoidable.

$366 Million of Traffic Management

The north-south leg of Wacker Drive will get an overhaul over the next three years, after which automotive and pedestrian traffic should move more efficiently. The state estimates 4,000 jobs will be created by the project.

CTA Has Lots Of Cameras

With the 24 recently installed cameras at Green Line stations, the CTA now 1,657 cameras at 73 stations with more on the way!

Electric Cars of the Future, Today

Tesla Motors officially opened the doors on its Chicago dealership over the weekend.

Say NO to Smog in Chicago

Chicago is the only major city that wouldn't meet new standards for nitrogen oxide emissions under new anti-smog regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

South Side Explorer

While Illinois unemployment continues to climb, 1,200 jobs will soon be added to Ford's Chicago Assembly plant, where production of Explorers will soon join the Taurus.

A Less Happy Bus Story

The Sept. 17 death of a disabled man was caught by the on-bus security camera; WBBM-780 has the video, if you're morbidly interested. [via]

Sticker Your Bus Stop

Here's some productive tagging for you: CTA Stop ID is crowdsourcing the placement of informational stickers or signs on all the CTA bus stops, to help people take better advantage of the SMS-based Bus Tracker service.

Joe vs. The Volcano, Pt. 2?

Always-opinioned local blogger Mike Doyle takes on the CTA union (who are fighting against personnel cuts) and explains why they deserve no one's sympathy. How strong are his feelings? He posted them in text AND video form.

Still No Superstation

Chicago Current confirms what you'd already forgotten about: The CTA superstation underneath Block 37 is still mothballed, and there are no plans to revive it.

Pothole Count Down

CDOT says they've filled 12,000 fewer potholes so far this winter compared to last year. With the weather warming up, however, that gap seems likely to narrow.

CTA, Past and Future

If you're still in search of a 2010 calendar for your wall, the CTA has a free one for download. It's chock-full of pictures from throughout the CTA's history, plus lots of glorious Helvetica.

Midway Privatization Deal Moving Forward Again

A few months after the collapse of talks to privatize Midway, the city is preparing to restart negotiations with interested groups.

Riding the Rails

Ever wonder what it'd be like to travel the entire CTA train system in one day, from terminus to terminus? Wonder no more.

Bicyclist Hit By Brown Line

A man on a bicycle was hit by a southbound Brown Line train tonight near the Francisco stop. He was transported to the hospital in serious to critical condition. There are shuttle buses operating currently. Please be safe out there!

Three-Track Days Are Over

CTA Tattler notes that this week marks the end of the Brown Line expansion project, finished on time and on budget by the CTA.

How Much is a Penny Worth?

It's New Year's Eve, so it's worth a ride on the CTA from 8pm until 6am. Get the details from the CTA, as well as which routes will be extended.

Blues Brothers an Airport "Attraction"?

AP travel writer Beth Harpaz includes the pair of Blues Brothers statues at the House of Blues store in Midway Airport as the sole notable attraction in Chicago's airports. I would have chosen the Terminal One Tunnel at O'Hare, myself.

OMG JST GT A TCKT

Don't forget, from this Friday onward, you'll get a ticket for texting while driving. (Then again, how many people actually get tickets for using their phone while driving?)

Running On Empty

Those new Pace buses that serve Bolingbrook, Schaumburg and Harvey (among other stops) have it all: plush seats, leg room, even bathrooms. Now if they only had riders...

Riding Through the Snow

Curious (or irate) about some of the CTA's winter policies? [via]

Gifts for People with Cars

If you're still trying to figure out a gift for that special someone, the Parket Ticket Geek has a rather specialized gift guide for you -- as well as an appreciation of the automated parking meters' better attributes.

Finding a Way to Find Your Way

City-Go-Round is a site that collects transportation maps and apps for Chicago and other cities to help you get from here to there. [via]

If at First You Don't Succeed, Evaluate

There are some interesting CTA tech tidbits in this article, including a not-so-satisfying explanation of why we don't have a "train tracker."

Track the Bus from Inside the Store

Red Hen Bakery and eight other shops along Milwaukee Avenue are displaying CTA Bus Tracker arrival times for the 56 bus on in-store screens, so you don't have to wait outside in the cold.

Rack 'Em Up

Bike racks don't have to be generic metal brackets simply bolted to the ground, or even now-useless parking meters. The Village of Algonquin is looking for artistic types to design new bike racks for the community. Get the info here.

Frozen Meters

The frigid temperatures have revealed the latest insult in the parking meter debacle: They don't like the cold. Reports of frozen, inoperative meters are coming in from all over the city.

Hop On The Bus

Super-cheap travel purveyor Megabus is currently offering free fares for the first 100,000 people to book trips between Jan. 6 and March 10, 2010, using promotional code "GETAWAY." Even with a 50 cent booking fee, you could get across the country for less than a CTA ride. [via]

I'm Dreading a White Commute

If you can get your boss to let you off a little early today, you might want to: the snow is already coming down, and with wind gusting up to 35 MPH, it's going to be a fun one on the roads and CTA.

City Sticker Voting Time Again

Drivers, go vote on what kid's art will grace your windshield next year. [via]

Find A Bike Rack

The Chicago Department of Transportation has created a bike rack finder, sortable by zip codes. (h/t: Julia Thiel)

Nearly 400 Towed Already

The winter overnight parking ban has been in effect for just two days, and the City has already towed 398 cars -- 234 the first night and another 164 yesterday. In case you're wondering, here's a list of streets to steer clear of.

Get Rid of These CTA Stations

The A.V. Club Chicago's Andrew Reilly creates a very North Side-centric list of El stations the CTA should close. Predictable comment flamewar ensues.

Move Your Car

Don't forget, the city's winter parking regulations go into effect at 3am tonight.

Want to be the DJ at O'Hare?

As we posted in Transmission last week, the Chicago Music Commission is asking for new local music to play at O'Hare and Midway. What's more, you can browse O'Hare's entire track list by terminal, time and date on their website. For example, here's what was playing in Terminal 1 on April 29, 2009.

Your Ride's On Them

To entice shoppers to Andersonville this holiday season, the Chamber of Commerce is offering reimbursements for parking or CTA rides up to the neighborhood if you spend $20 in a local store. Details online.

No ID, No Problem

Fox News Chicago discovered that it's easy to get past TSA security at O'Hare and Midway without any form of photo ID. Just need a credit card with the same name as your ticket. [via]

More Thieves Eyeing Phones?

When Becca's iPhone was snatched from her hands on the Green Line, she posted about the incident on her blog and quickly realized she wasn't alone. According to a few of the comments and an employee she spoke to at the Oak Park AT&T store, iPhone theft on the Green Line may be a growing trend. As always, stay alert.

Connect at Block 37

Block 37 may be having problems, but one thing's good: The Blue Line / Red Line transfer at Washington is now open. (Thanks, Clint!)

Plugging Chicago In

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are beginning to make appearances on city streets, and Carbon Day Automotive launched Chicago's first electric charging station this summer.

Put a Headlight on That Bike

With days getting shorter, the evening commute is getting darker. The Active Transportation Alliance is giving away free bicycle headlights from 5pm to 7pm tonight at the Milwaukee/Damen/North intersection. The catch: You have to be on a bike to get a light.

Parking Meters Are Good Business

Unsurprising news of the day: the city's privatized parking meters have been lucrative. And since rates go up Jan. 1, they're the gift that keeps on giving.

You Better Watch Out

The CTA Holiday Train returns this weekend. Full schedule here; check out past Holiday Train photos on Flickr for some idea of what to look for. [via]

Bensenville Settles

The Village of Bensenville has reached a $16 settlement with the City of Chicago, clearing another obstruction to O'Hare's expansion. If you want to hear it from the horse's mouth, here's the village's press release [PDF].

Enough for 21 Boots

One car, 43 tickets.

Where Your Kicks Will Have Been Gotten

We know Route 66 "officially" begins at Buckingham Fountain, but it's recently been decided that it ends at Santa Monica Pier... which is fudging, actually, though fans of the "Mother Road" aren't complaining.

CTA Doomsday Staved Off

The CTA and Pace will freeze rates for two years under a deal brokered by Gov. Quinn -- but service cuts still loom.

Cameras That Help Drivers

Don't believe the traffic reporters or myriad online maps? Well then see for yourself. TrafficLand has expanded to Chicago.

Lots and Lots of Tickets

Parking tickets are up 26 percent this year thanks to the new meter boxes -- and possibly to someone other than the CPD being in charge of ticket-writing.

What Would You Like to See on Google Street View?

Google is accepting suggestions for off-of-the-street places for its Street View trike to document. Do you have a Chicago location to suggest? Perhaps the Lakefront Path or your favorite park?

Kennedy "Pavement Failure"

IDOT is recommending that all drivers avoid downtown expressways for at least 24 hours because of a "pavement failure" that's closed all but one northbound lane on the Kennedy.

Another Year, Another Potential CTA Fare Hike

Train fare could rise to $3 and bus fare to $2.50 ($3 for express buses) as the CTA once again tries to close its budget gap.

Rolling Art Gallery

Art on the Track brings an eight-car art installation to the Loop this Saturday. [via]

Finally Landing at O'Hare

Greg Krause arrives home in Chicago today after using JetBlue's 30-day All You Can Jet Pass to fly around the world raising money for a school in Zambia.

Cabbie Calamity

In the "sick and wrong" files, one in five cab drivers in Chicago have been physically attacked on the job. It's commonly accompanied by ethnic hostility, reports the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Imagining Future Transportation

The Sun-Times does some digging into contemporary views of future transportation, noting we're less likely to think about floating cars and more likely to think about high speed trains than in days past.

No Gas Guzzling Here

Record-high public transit ridership in 2008 (along with, no doubt, all the bikes I see streaming by on Milwaukee everyday) saved Illinois nearly 260 million gallons of gas. In the new report from advocacy group Environment Illinois, the group says that's equal to the amount of gas from over 450,000 cars.

Some Help Turning Off the Bus

CTA employees who clean busses typically need to turn on bus engines to provide light, temperature controls and other power while they work in them. That will change for 80 busses thanks to a new $1.5 million federal Recovery Act grant.

Share the Drive

Speaking of driving... Even if you can't go car free, maybe try car pooling. Chicago has the lowest rate of car pooling of any major US city, according to IBM's annual "commuter pain" survey.

A World Without Cars

Tomorrow is Chicagoland Car-Free Day, a day when people pledge to ditch their autos and try an alternate form of transportation. It's sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance, who's partnered with local communities and public transportation systems, and is all part of World Car-Free Day. Take the pledge on their website, and you'll get a $1 coupon off a large drink at Caribou Coffee.

Public Park(ing)

Tomorrow is Park(ing) Day, a multi-city event that turns parking spaces into temporary public parks. This year, Chicago's entry is on Southport near Addison, and is sponsored by architecture firm moss design. Hear architect Matt Nardella explain the event and its new connotations after the parking meter scandal on WBEZ's "Eight Forty-Eight."

AKA Ride a Train, Bus or Bike Day

Chicagoland Car-Free Day is a week away! Take the pledge not to drive on Sept. 22, and you can print out a coupon for a dollar off a large drink at area Caribou Coffee locations.

Time Left on the Meter

LAZ's parking meter machines don't always tell the correct time, despite supposedly being updated every night -- meaning your meter receipt might not show the correct time. Clock experts say something doesn't add up in LAZ's explanation of the discrepancy.

The Water Taxi Calls

If it's been a while since you've been on a water taxi, here's a reminder about how great they are.

Customer Surveillance is Needed on the Outbound Platform

The CTA is going to install high-definition cameras at all 177 train stations, starting with the Green Line. [via GBtips]

Surfing the ... Rails

Behold, the power of the intertubes, Metra riders! Starting today, Metra's 312,000 commuters can use the new website to buy tickets and monthly passes. Not only that, but those riding the rails can plot out their trips and receive e-mail alerts when trains are running late.

Avoiding The Big O's Traffic Woes

Whether you're heading to Oprah's big Michigan Avenue bash, or trying to avoid it altogether, Chicagosphere and the Parking Ticket Geek have the lowdown on the best way to get around downtown as you head back to work tomorrow.

Commuting's a Pain

IBM released its annual Commuter Pain Index today, and Chicago has moved up a spot to fourth most painful in the country.

Subliminal Advertising?

Sex sells, right? That might explain the unexpected image Transmission staffer Liz McLean Knight noticed on an iGo brochure bearing her likeness.

Meter Culpa

Today's best headline: "A meter culpa from the mayor" reads the Sun-Times' scoop that Daley will admit the City "totally screwed up" the parking meter privatization deal due to its desperation for money.

From Motown to Chi-Town in No Time

From Detroit to Chicago by rail in four hours? Dare to dream...

Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian = $50 to 500

The CPD will be continuing its crosswalk stings in the coming months, with the first happening today in Lakeview.

Bums Out of Office

I've had photos of this sitting in iPhoto for more than a month, but Chicagoist finally posted photos of an awesome storefront anti-parking meter protest in Lincoln Square.

CTA Cuts on Campus

Taking the bus to classes in Hyde Park? Maybe not anymore. The CTA has eliminated two bus routes to the U. of Chicago, and cut hours on two more.

But What of the Busses Always Running in Threes?

The CTA Tattler has sliced and diced the stats behind calls to the CTA's customer service line. 2009 is shaping up to have a lower volume of calls thanks to the end of 3-track operations on the northern L lines and the wider implementation of CTA Bus Tracker.

Hackers Get Free Parking

Apparently the "smart" electronic parking meters used in Chicago and other cities are fairly easy to exploit by hackers. [via]

Yet Another Googlemap - Cycling Edition

CitySpokes maps out the city's bike paths, with a convenient trip planner to help you take advantage of them.

Meter Protest Wednesday

March on City Hall at 11:30am tomorrow if you'd like to see the City Council fix the parking meter privatization deal. UPDATE: Report on the protest.

Reststop to Ruin

The firm that leased seven oases on the Illinois Tollway may be foreclosed upon -- and turns out to have made big campaign contributions to Blago to sweeten the deal. [via]

Commuter Drama

Local writer and editor Robert Burnham writes Tales from the Commute, slices of life on the Metra rails.

Car 553

That's the name of the last private rail car in America, running on Metra's UP-North line.

Two-Wheelers Get the Shaft

Yet another unexpected fall-out of the parking meter privatization: meter receipts are no longer motorcycle- and scooter-friendly after LAZ cut costs by switching away from sticker-backed paper.

How's that for a Perquisite?

The CTA has been providing "company cars" to 68 employees, including 38 managers, and has decided to cut the program by the end of the year to save money. Sounds like a good idea.

Milwaukee Getting a Little Closer

Speaking of railroad infrastructure, Wisconsin just ordered two high(er)-speed trains that will run on the Hiawatha route between Milwaukee and Chicago. They have a top speed of 110mph, but tracks will need to be modified to reach the capacity. The current limit of the line is 79mph.

Create Closer to Creation

Create has taken one step closer to reducing freight train delays in Chicago. In the end, perhaps items won't be taken off of trains on one side of Chicago and then put trucks to be taken to another train on the other side ... just to save time.

Getting a Seemingly Incorrect CTA Expiration Notice?

If so, you may not be alone. Approximately 3,500 Chicago Card Plus members had incorrect expiration dates listed online and need to contact the CTA for a replacement.

Oh, Really?

Today's breakthrough study based on research on Chicago commuters, among those in three other cities, is that exercising while commuting is linked with better fitness.

Stick 'Em Up

The Sun-Times reminds us that the deadline for purchasing your city sticker is this Wednesday. After that, you face a $40 late fee and a $120 ticket. For information on where to get your sticker, see the City Clerk's Website.

Campaign Against the Parking Meter Deal

Yes, everyone's still pissed about the parking meter deal. And a group called Chicago ANSWER is doing something about it -- circulating a petition this Saturday to have the deal scrapped. [via]

A Razor Blade, Plus...

The Parking Ticket Geek suggests some ways you can remove last year's city sticker from your windshield.

Rural Assistance

The NY Times did an analysis of the transportation stimulus money and determined urban centers receive far less than their share of the GDP. As of July 2, Chicago has received 2.57% of the overall funds while contributing 3.68% to the country's GDP.

Solid Gold

While the Chicago 2016 Olympics campaign revs up, a South Side coalition is pushing for a new CTA line for the games and after. The Gold Line would connect the Metra and the CTA, and serve key Olympic venues.

CTA Tweet Gets Better

The CTA Tattler is working to improve CTA Tweet, its Twitter-based alert system.

A Little Bit Greener

The CTA just got a little bit greener with the addition of five hybrid articulated busses, bringing the hybrid fleet total to approximately 200. I hope they turn out better than the last publicized articulated busses...

Park Smarter

BestParking.com is a handy site that lets users compare daily and monthly parking rates based on neighborhood, address, cross street, or attraction. Previously only available in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and D.C., the site recently added Chicago to their system.

CTA Surveys Riders

Tell them what to improve and how.

A More Walkable Campus

The U of C's Main Quad will be undergoing a dramatic transformation this summer, including converting its streets into pedestrian thoroughfares. A map is also available through the Facilities Services site.

West Side Car Fires

At least 17 cars were set on fire in Humboldt Park and Ukrainian Village early this morning.

Next Stop: Lollapalooza

FoGB, designer, (and frequent festival photographer) George Aye snapped a pic of his special Lollapalooza edition CTA transit cards which are showing up in station vending machines now. He snagged his at Logan Square.

New Way To Pay As You Go

The ongoing battle between (some) taxi drivers and their customers who want to pay their fare with a credit card might be a thing of the past, thank to some new technology.

Revenge of the FAIL

The Reader's Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke continue their outstanding coverage of the parking meter privatization scandal this week with a report on who actually benefits from the deal. Read their previous stories here and here.

Rage Against the Parking Machine

There's a rally against parking meters at Alderman John Pope's office tomorrow morning. Protesters want to make sure some new meters don't go into their neighborhood, in light of the meter deal debacle.

Station to Station

The most interesting thing about the Tribune's story about best and worst CTA stations is the chart of ridership changes at the end. Roosevelt (Red) up 165 percent, Clinton (Green) up 157 percent, Rosemont (Blue) down 22 percent.

CTA Working On Arrival Time Screens

The CTA Tattler reports that the CTA is hoping to work out some glitches in the screens displaying next train times at six El stations. No word if fares need to be increased to help fund the fix.

Only The Brave

Time Out Chicago's website has links to photos and video clips of the Chicago version of the World Naked Bike Ride held over the weekend. We're guessing it's NSFW.

Giddy Up!

The rodeo's in town this weekend--the Rail Rodeo, that is. As part of the American Public Transportation Association's annual conference, rail operators and maintenance teams will compete to see who's the best in North America. The competition takes place tomorrow morning on the Yellow Line, which, of course, means that the permanent weekend Yellow Line service announced earlier this week won't be happening until Saturday afternoon. [via]

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A blue line train headed northbound towards O'hare was struck by a car this morning. Yes. Really.

There is Another Year Directly Behind this One

The CTA Tattler celebrates five years of reporting on Chicago transit.

iPhonin' at Grand

AT&T service will soon be available in CTA subways. Gmail in the station!

Citizen Passengers

O'Hare isn't just an airport. It's an aerotropolis. [via]

Would You Bike for Coffee?

The Active Transportation Alliance serves free coffee to those who ride a bicycle to work (or to Metra) next week. Stop by a Bike Commuter Station -- throughout Chicago and at various Metra stations.

Riding South Someday

The CTA is holding public meetings tonight and tomorrow regarding the long-discussed Red Line extension south of 95th. You might want to take a look back at Craig Berman's CTA Map for 2055 here on GB.

Get Out of My Dreams

...and into Ferrari Guy For Hire's car. [via]

All Aboard The Cheddar Express

Business honchos in Green Bay are pushing for an Amtrak rail link between that city and Chicago, with an eye toward getting some of those possible 2016 Olympics bucks. And it will make it easier for Bears and Packers fans to deliver the hate personally.

Valet Bike Parking Chased out of Millennium Park

The nifty bike valet at Millennium Park is in jeopardy of closing this summer due to chief underwriter Chase Bank's "refocusing on business matters."

Downtown Parking Meter Holiday?

Not really. Due to a rash of parking meter payboxes not working, Police have been instructed not to issue parking tickets in the loop today.

High-Flying Websites

The official websites for O'Hare and Midway airports so old-looking that someone decided to build new ones.

Speaking of Gapers Blocks

Your downtown commute may get a little more interesting around 6:30 this evening thanks to the throngs of participants and spectators expected for the 28th annual J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. Detours are being considered for 19 CTA bus routes that run in the general vicinity of Grant Park.

Spaghetti Bowls and Circles

Chicago's Circle Interchange makes an appearance in part 2 of The Infrastructurist's collection of freeway interchanges (part one). Don't know the Circle? Read about it and other local road jargon here.

Reading Material for Aldermen

The Chicago Reader's politics blog rounds up recent parking meter news, and provides links to the parking meter contract here and here.

Big Changes for Vehicle Stickers

In the seemingly endless barrage of transportation news is a another change to the way the city handles cars. Among other changes, the main city vehicle sticker will be combined with resident permits and will include a license plate number.

While You Were Sleeping

One of O'Hare's runways was shortened by 4,000 feet in just one 8 hour shift last week, as part of a project to cut down on planes cutting across each other's paths at the airport.

Orienting the Masses

Chicago Critical Mass aficionados likely already know about the collection of route maps on the CCM site, but Andrew Bedno recently created another directory that includes selected flyers from early as 1998, set up gallery style.

Parking Meter Fiasco, Redux

We already know the parking meter privatization deal was a bad one -- but three months later we're still finding out just how bad. And in the meantime, Ald. Ed Burke canceled planned hearings on the meter deal. Great.

Goala Was Taken

The RTA has launched Goroo, a new travel planning site where you can work out how to get from one place to another on Metra, CTA and roads.

Today's Most Inappropriate Headline Award Goes to

... the Trib for its coverage of Chrysler closing 789 dealerships, 44 of which are in Illinois: "No-haggle end for hundreds of Chrysler dealers."

CTA Bus Tracker System To Be Fully Installed Soon

On May 18th the CTA Bus Tracker project will be complete!

Further Parking Meter Ammunition

With so many broken parking meters out there, it's important to know that you can't be fined for parking in a spot with a broken meter. Just in case, take an extra step and print out a few of these flyers explaining the law to whoever's handing out tickets these days.

LAZ Parking Finally Admits Mistakes

LAZ Parking officials have come to the oh-so-surprising conclusion that it wasn't ready to acquire the city's 36,000 parking meters in February.

Our Potholes Rank Worldwide!

Chicago fits right in on Gadling's list of places with the worst potholes. [via]

"I guess it ran out of gas or something"

One of the approximately 60 WWII era aircraft remaining in Lake Michigan has been recovered for inclusion in a New Orleans museum. The plane crashed on Nov. 24, 1944 while attempting to land on an aircraft carrier during a training mission.

Articulated Buses, RIP

You'll never be able to ride again in that scary-yet-exciting accordionish corridor thingy again. UPDATE: Actually, only one type of articulated bus is being decommissioned; the CTA just recently leased new articulated buses from New Flyer. (Thanks, Rob!)

Commuters, Be Careful!

Crime is on the rise on the CTA: robberies up by 77%, theft up by 6%.

Clear the Runway for the Puppy Plane

Times are tough, but not too tough for Pet Airways, a pets only airline that will begin service to our fair city beginning in July.

Pothole Election

Vote for the worst pothole in Chicago Public Radio's Adopt-a-Side-Street project. The winning pothole will be the subject of a news story.

Chicago as High-Speed Rail Hub

Eight Midwestern states have united to reinvigorate plans for the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative as a way to increase their odds at getting federal funding. If the plan succeeds, you know who will be in the center.

Beeps and Flashes

The system of signals behind CTA farecards is more complex than you might think.

A Little Closer to Understanding Red-Light Cameras

The Trib visited RedSpeed Illinois and Redflex Traffic Systems to get the inside scoop on red light cameras and how the companies who operate them interact with the city.

A Carefully Metered Attack

The Reader's Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke take a look at how Daley and friends managed to push the parking meter privatization deal through City Council with such ease.

Welcome Wagon of Flame!

A car on fire across the street is not the usual way we greet out of town guests. [Thanks, Marc!]

Well, Better Late than Never

A protest about road conditions in Englewood was foiled by a Department of Transportation road repair crew who, following months of complaints, showed up by "coincidence" minutes before the demonstration was to begin. Right.

Do You Know Any Former Pullman Porters?

If so, tell them to get in touch with Amtrak, who wants to speak with and honor them. The NY Times has more background information.

One Card to Ride It All

The RTA is working on improving fare collection on buses and trains, the goal being "to allow customers to travel on different parts of the transit system with a single fare payment." [via]

Paulina Brown Line Stop to Reopen

The Paulina Brown Line Stop reopens tomorrow morning (if you're counting, that leaves just the Wellington stop closed and Fullerton and Belmont still under construction). All weekend long, various businesses in the area, including Frasca, Fizz, Finley Dunne's, Dinkel's, Sam & Willy's, and The Shire, will have specials to celebrate.

Train/Crash

Progressive Railroading.com (and it's OK to admit it's your favorite website) reports that Amtrak is reintroducing sleeper cars to the Chicago-to-Boston route. So if you had plans to head to Beantown anytime soon, you can now do it flat on your back.

How's Your Street Look?

WBEZ wants to know -- and wants you to photograph it in all its pockmarked glory for the Adopt a Side Street project.

Bridge Out Permanently

There are a lot of bridges over the Chicago River -- but there used to be a few more.

Chicken Buckets of Asphalt

Since the City is more interested (apparently) in repaving park district roads, maybe we can get KFC to fill some of Chicago's 25,000-plus potholes.

More Meter Rebellion

The Expired Meter uncovers additional parking meter abuse and destruction following the LAZ takeover -- including an effort to overstuff meters with pennies.

The Most Advanced Public Transit In Chicago

It's not a competition, but if it were, the L would be beating the Metra in which one is the more high tech train service.

Venting Parking Meter Frustration

Given recent complaints about parking meters, it should come as no surprise that some people are taking matters into their own hands... however unsuccessfully.

Adopt-a-Side Street

Chicago Public Radio's blog wants to help you get your street fixed. Just follow their guidelines to send in a picture of your street's issues. They'll then track how fast it gets fixed (or not).

The Joys of Parking Meter Privatization

Oh, here's a surprise... Apparently, people aren't particularly pleased with the recent parking meter changes or the transition process.

Paving Priorities

Thousands of potholes on our city's streets, and the parks are getting repaved first. Thank the Olympic bid for your smooth ride to see the duckies.

Commuter Wars?

The CTA might have some new local competition. A Sun-Times story says it's actually cheaper, in some cases, to take Metra to the Loop rather than the L or bus.

How Can Filling 4,000 Potholes a Day Not be Enough?

Since December, the city filled more than 200,000 potholes, leaving -- supposedly -- a surplus of 7,000 unfilled potholes.

Tesla to Electrify Chicago

Tesla Motors, the company behind the electric Tesla Roadster, is opening its first dealership outside of California here in Chicago. [via]

No Time for Laissez-faire

Besides not mentioning the CTA Daley still hasn't revealed much of his wish list from the stimulus package. Not that it mattered since Illinois has yet to submit any project for funding. With all the distractions in Springfield its easy to forget there is work to be done.

Misery on the Roads

Chicago continued to rank third in the US for traffic congestion on INRIX's annual National Traffic Scorecard. Cook County has 26 of the worst 100 bottlenecks in the country. Throw in thousands of potholes, and we've got a whole lot of lousy driving.

Schaumburg Kisses Millions Goodbye

Apparently complaining about red-light cameras actually does something.

Cops with Cameras

Red light runners aren't the only ones whose tickets come with photographic evidence anymore.

Doomsday is Now?

Developing Story: The CTA has pulled 90 articulated buses from this evening's rush hour commute after a structural crack was discovered. Right now, there's nothing some affected route information posted to the bus status page at the CTA's site. UPDATE: the Trib reports more than 200 buses will be affected immediately.

Like the CTA Needs More Problems...

Yesterday, 5,000 DePaul students' U-Passes were deactivated by mistake, leaving more than a few students a little less confident about the CTA.

Winter Parking Ban: Not So Much

The lightning-quick towing of Chicago drivers who defy the overnight winter parking ban has been cut in half, thanks to the city's 2009 budget eliminating nearly all of the field vehicle investigators whose job it is to seek out and ticket illegally parked cars. Of course, this also means that the city's losing out on a lot of fast revenue over the winter months.

Be Careful Crossing the Street

Pedestrian deaths rose from 49 in 2007 to 56 in 2008. Prevention funding is also up, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

The Return of Doomsday

Thanks to the economy, the now-annual CTA doomsday call may be even more dire than usual.

More Bus Trackers On The Way

More bus trackers are on the way, according to CTA Tattler. As things are now, about 75% of all the CTA bus routes will be on the bus tracker system by the end of March.

Obama Commemorative Plates

You can show just how much you love our home-town president with some temporary Obama license plates (they're only valid for two months) from, of all places, the Illinois Library Association.

Olympic Bid Leaves Out the CTA

Jon Hilkevitch reports that Chicago's Olympic bid book doesn't include an overhaul of the CTA -- only shuttle service between train stops. You can review the whole bid book by downloading it here. Let us know what you think of the Olympic bid in Fuel.

Greet the Quadrupling Rates

It's taken a while, but the new parking rates will start to take effect tomorrow.

Polk Street CTA Entrance Reopens

The Polk Street entrance to the Harrison Red Line stop opened this week for the first time in 41 years.

Ticket Amnesty Ends Saturday

The city's ticket amnesty program, which gets you reduced or waived fees on certain outstanding parking and red-light tickets, ends on Saturday. Check the Department of Revenue site for a full list of eligible tickets, as well as an option of paying online. (tip from The Expired Meter)

Only Tourists & Wedding Parties from Now On

The City has discontinued its free trolley service due to budget cutbacks. Navy Pier will continue to run its own trolleys to and from the Grand Red Line stop, but otherwise the only trolleys you'll be seeing from now on will be full of drunk wedding attendees.

More Good Design at O'Hare

InterContinental's new O'Hare hotel is part of a wave of high-end design sites replacing no-frills airport hotels. It has amenities like an art gallery with in-house curator in adddition to an overall contemporary design.

Might as Well Pay It

The Expired Meter reports that budget cuts have led to a huge backlog on traffic and parking ticket court hearings. If you're not up for the hassle, you can pay your ticket online.

Cool Forgotten Luggage

Speaking of the CTA, the Damen Brown Line stop recently reopened, featuring some very cool new public sculptures. (That leaves just Paulina and Wellington still closed, incidentally.)

CTA Pays Well if You're in Charge

Top CTA managers did pretty well last year income wise; nonunion executives got 6 percent salary raises before 2009. Ron Huberman says it was necessary to keep the high caliber of talent. Hmmm, so how much does it cost to get executives that get the trains to come on time?

Reason Number 1,304,127 to Proofread

The CTA's Red Line disruption of service alert hinted at a particularly unsettling kind of delay.

This Tollway Improvement Brought to You By...

If the Gov is indeed ousted today, the Illinois Tollway will almost immediately shroud all those signs proclaiming Rod's awesomeness (like this one). Then they'll take them down.

Carter To Head CTA For The Moment

Dorval Carter will be the acting head of the CTA until a permanent successor to Ron Huberman is found.

Fascinating Traffic Graphs

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has released incredibly detailed graphs of traffic congestion in Chicagoland. Study up on your route to learn when not to hit particular problem areas.

Taxation Without Representation

Every time a CTA bus driver gets caught running a red light the taxpayers pay for it.

Anti-Dibs Ammunition

The City is cracking down on the "dibs" tradition, asking residents to remove junk or have it removed for them. The Expired Meter has a handy note you can print out and give to your neighbors if you'd like.

CTA is Tops in at Least One Thing

Unfortunately, that one thing is cost. It's the most expensive transit system in America, according to a survey by Citizens Taking Action.

No Rush on the Meters

The Parking Ticket Geek reports that although the sale of the city's parking meters was pushed through quickly, the actual lease deal is taking a lot longer. Don't expect the switch-over till around March.

Your New NEV

Chicago, meet the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. You may be driving one soon.

CTA Ridership Up

CTA ridership is breaking records this year. According to a press release:

The CTA today announced that 2008 combined bus and rail ridership increased by 26.8 million rides, a gain of 5.4 percent over 2007 ridership, for a total of 526.4 million rides. It is the highest ridership level since 1992 and the highest single year ridership gain in 34 years.

Amtrak Derails, Blocks Metra

Southbound Metra riders, be warned, your trip home will be slow. An Amtrak train derailed near Union Station this afternoon, cutting off three Metra lines.

Var det en 22 eller en 36?*

Perhaps it's one of those Jerry-Lewis-is-big-in-France deals, but for some reason the CTA Bus Tracker is popular in Norway, receiving 15,000-plus hit from that country, more than any other country outside of the U.S. *Incidentally, the headline translates to "Was that a 22 or a 36?", a pretty popular phrase among CTA users.

Parking Meters in the News

The Expired Meter finds no evidence of rate increase two weeks into the leasing of the city's parking meters. Meanwhile, the Trib reports that there will be fewer coin meters on the streets in the near future.

Pants Optional

Saturday was Improv Everywhere's No Pants Day on trains around the world. Chicago's entry got some press; photos from the event are here.

Blue Line Accident

Power to the southbound tracks on the CTA's Blue Line downtown has been shut off after a woman was struck and badly injured by a subway train at 8:15 this morning. Blue Line customers are being advised to use alternate service into the Loop.

Just What We Need...

Following a federal appeals court decision, it looks like 330 more red light cameras are on our way.

'Hole' Lot of Shakin'

Our city's freaky up-and-down weather has one bone-jarring side effect: potholes. As of Monday there were more than 1,100 dotting the city landscape and threatening to bust axles. The city says it's on it and you can file a claim for any damages. Incidentially, if you're driving east past the Heart 'O' Chicago motel, don't let that shallow looking puddle on the right side of the road fool you. Trust me.

Checking on the CTA's "No Return Trip" Policy

Chicago Carless follows up on his story breaking the CTA's homeless ridership crackdown with a late-night ride with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Weather Worries

Hope you're not headed out of town today -- the weather has snarled pretty much every mode of transportation: planes, trains and automobiles. Even ice skates.

Belmont Back to "Normal"

The CTA returned the Belmont station to four-track service on Saturday, much to the relief of commuters. Meanwhile the tunnels got some glow-in-the-dark paint.

Pervs on the CTA

Unfortunately sometimes public indecency is a fact of life on public transportation. CTA Tattler has a good post exposing one particular lowlife and some suggestions on what to do if you become a victim.

Just Sell Your Car

First they sold off the parking meters, now City Council is weighing a proposal for a "congestion reduction fee" on parking spaces downtown. Proceeds would theoretically go to the CTA for service improvements.

Two Wheels, Times Two

Double Bike Match launched today: donate to World Bicycle Relief through the site and an angel will match it, so that two bikes can be purchased for needy people.

The CTA Redesigns (its Website)

The CTA debuted a completely redesigned transitchicago.com today (you may need to hard-refresh the page if you've been there lately.) The site is a big step forward in the agency's effort to standardize messaging and streamline information. Service alerts are made clear and are available by RSS.

Turn on Your Bike Light

The Active Transportation Alliance will be giving out 200 free bike headlights tonight at Chicago and Wells from 5:30-7:30pm.

Your Daily Commute

Commuting.in prettifies the CTA Bus Tracker for your mobile device, but also allows you to save favorite bus routes and stops.

Morgan Street to See Green

The Chicago Journal reports that in 2009 the CTA will begin construction to add a new stop to the Green Line at Morgan Street. This will help close the massive gap that goes Clinton to Ashland with no stop in between. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2010 or early 2011.

Feeding the Meter Controversy

Just when you thought that parking meter privatization deal couldn't get any worse, someone read the fine print: all parking holidays will be off, and no free parking on Sundays, either. City Council votes today; call your alderman. UPDATE: The deal passed City Council 40-5.

CTA Rolls Out Hybrid Buses

The CTA unveiled new hybrid buses today that plug into an electrical outlet at night and run on battery power for most of the day. The move is estimated to save the CTA almost $7 million annually in maintenance, labor and fuel costs by retiring aging buses.

Car Wars

It will cost you considerably more to park at a meter in the near future. But don't worry: You probably won't be able to move your car from in front of your house anyway.

The Ad You Might Not Want To Leave

The good news: some downtown bus shelters are going to have warm air piped into them over the winter. The bad news: it's not part of a CTA improvement program, it's an ad for stuffing. More details in Drive-Thru.

No Transfers

The CTA appears to be cracking down on homeless ridership -- just in time for winter weather -- by posting signage at train terminals reminding passengers that they must pay for another fare to ride a train board a train going the opposite direction. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has begun tracking any ejections of homeless people by CTA employees.

That's The Ticket

Tired of dodging the city tow trucks thanks to that fistful of parking tickets you've collected? The Department of Revenue is giving you a break.

CTA Considers Selling Station Naming Rights

The CTA is once again mulling offering naming rights to individual CTA stations. The RedEye's Kyra Kyles has some suggestions; I always thought Dunkin' Donuts should sponsor Library -- where the Pink, Orange and Brown lines stop. GB readers had some other good ideas in Fuel back in 2005. (By the way, if you're interested in discussing the proposed Red Line extension below 95th, there are a couple meetings this week.)

80,000 Jobs are Just the Beginning

Crain's examines the linkages between Chicago and Detroit and the effect the current calamity with U.S. automakers could have on us.

Signs of Snow

Hopefully you remembered not to park on snow routes tonight, because whether there's snow on the ground or not, Chicago's winter parking regulations go into effect at 3am Dec. 1 -- very late tonight or very early Monday morning, depending on your perspective. Hope you don't wake up to a missing car!

Fuel For The City

Believe it or not, you can get gas in Chicago for less than $2 a gallon. Not in a nearby suburb, not across the Skyway in Indiana, but actually within the city limits, specifically at a BP and Mobil station at 76th Street near the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Lanes Go HOT and Green

Whether they're called HOT (High-Occupancy Toll) or Green Lanes, four (to be determined) Illinois toll roads are going to be changing in 2010. Aimed at reducing congestion, commuters will be rewarded for driving with a buddy (or 2, or 3), or taking the bus, with access to a designated lane for vehicles with more than one passenger.

Bunchie of the Year

Commenters at the CTA Tattler are discussing which CTA bus route would get the "Bunchie" for slowest and least reliable service.

CTA Gets Smart

Looks like the trusty Chicago Card may become obsolete in the near future. The CTA is claiming that a new "smart" version of credit and debit cards will be accepted for payment of bus and train fares in about a year. Seems like a rather bold prediction, but it could mean more money for other improvements if it pans out.

An Active Transformation

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has become the Active Transportation Alliance, to reflect a broadening of its focus beyond bikes.

Brother, Can You Spare a Quarter?

Because I'm going to need it when the CTA raises fares by 25 cents starting in 2009. An unrelated upside to this news is that the gas surcharge for taxi rides ends today, as oil prices have declined; however, cab drivers are lobbying for a 16% raise in their base fare.

Fare Increases for CTA/Pace

It looks like CTA is going to vote to raise fares as much as 50 cents today.

Feminine Wiliness

"Chicago Geek Girls is a network of groups devoted to supporting the work & play of women who identify as geeks."

Making Progress In Hyde Park

The blog Hyde Park Progress explores the transportation options available to the area from a U of C (ex)undergrad perspective.

Last Stop: Dreamland

If Chicago ever becomes a high-speed rail stop, we've already got the station for it. Or at least the design for the station.

Chicago Drivers - The Real Mavericks?

A pool report of President-elect Obama's ride to his first intelligence briefing highlights what many of us already know about downtown traffic.

Playing Conductor with Full-Scale Trains

Some Metra riders recently had a surprise guest engineer: a teenager.

New CTA Brown Line Stations All Shiny and Rusty

Construction shortcuts on the new brown line stations result in splintering wood in the platforms and rust on canopies and railings. Expect things to look uglier as winter sets in.

(Mostly) Good News: No Fare Hikes for Metra

While it's running short on funding, Metra says it won't raise fares in 2009 or (probably) 2010. That said, if it doesn't get some cash soon, service will be "slower, bumpier and less reliable."

JSYK, 151 Is Rng L8

Starting today, CTA riders can sign up for emails from the agency to alert them to construction, delays and changes in service. OMG.

Less Driving, More Congestion

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning found an interesting paradox in its recent transportation study: Chicagoans are driving 5% less, but congestion is actually worsening.

CTA Budget Analyzed

Wondering what to make of the CTA's budget proposal? The CTA Tattler breaks down the fare hike as well as the budget over all.

Transportation Card Sharing

iGo car sharing and the CTA have signed a deal where iGo members will be able to use one smart card for both their iGo and CTA rides. Pending board approval, the program should be in place by the end of this year.

No More Texting & Driving

City Council has banned texting while driving. It'll be a $75 fine, rising to as much as $200 if you get into an accident.

Fare Hike in '09

The CTA released its proposed 2009 budget today, and it's full of fare hikes. Apparently "belt tightening" is the new "doomsday."

Of Popsicles and Babesicles

Life's drama recorded on a bus shelter wall. [via]

Midway No Longer for Rent

In an effort to balance the city budget, Mayor Daley announced today that Midway Airport has been leased for $2.5 billion to an outside group who will operate the airport on a 99-year contract.

Hey! That's My Stop!

Want to show some love to your favorite El stop (and if you have favorite El stop that might be a sign of something altogether different)? The CTA unveils its new online gift shop with items featuring various city stations. And who doesn't need a train system shower curtain?

The CTA is All Atwitter

If you use Twitter, you can now follow your favorite El line, buses or the CTA as a whole, and send updates to the group thanks to CTA Tweet, created ex-GB staffer Dan O'Neil, who also created the cellular CTA Alert System and works at Everyblock. More details on CTA Tattler.

Check Your Mirrors

Stickers stating "Someone opened a door and killed my friend" have been popping up on parking meters and signposts around town, courtesy of Anti-Dooring.org.

Lincoln Square Traffic Report

GB staffer Sandy reports that there's been a street cave-in on Lawrence just east of Western due to a water main break. Buses and traffic are being rerouted.

Who's On Third?

Add another voice to the debate over a third airport for the Chicago area: the FAA chief who says another airport is needed in addition to the $15 billion expansion at O'Hare.

Who Pays for the Free Ride?

While we spend plenty of time fretting about our public transportation system, the American Public Transportation Association reminds us we're not alone.

CTA Cuts Back

Fortunately, today's CTA cuts hit administrative staff and not service. But that doesn't mean we won't see that later this year or next.

Coming Soon: The SRO Car

We've mentioned it previously on GB, and here's another reminder/warning: to help ease overcrowding, seatless train cars will start showing up on rush hour El trains starting in late October or early November.

NYC's Version of Car-Free Saturdays

There's some disappointment with the Sundays Parkways plan for car-free streets in October. John Greenfield traveled to NY to experience their version of 'ciclovia' and offers some tips on why New York's worked where Chicago stumbled.

Drunk on the Train from Chicago

Last call on Metra's bar cars comes this weekend.

Chicago: A Labor of Love

For the third year in a row, Hotwire.com declares Chicago the top destination for the Labor Day weekend. And if you do choose Chicago as your vacation destination, a New Zealand travel site tells you the best way to spend 48 hours here.

Buffalo Shot on I-55

Speaking of nightmares, four buffalo escaped from an area just outside of Joliet and found their way onto 55, which ended up being a bad move.

LSD Nightmare

The good news: Lake Shore Drive north of Irving Park is finally being resurfaced, saving countless tires. The bad news: it'll be shut down to one lane in each direction for hours a day for the next few months.

Fight the Boot

The Expired Meter is passing around a petition to get the City to reverse its decision to start booting cars after two unpaid tickets instead of three.

Another UFO Sighted at O'Hare

Does the little smudge in the sky in this photo look like a UFO to you? Read a report by the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena on the infamous 2006 sighting here [PDF].

Must be a Slow News Day

The Sun-Times reminds drivers to use their turn signals. Why don't they? Well, 7% said they want to "add excitement" to their trips. Hm.

Bensenville, the Vanishing Village

The Windy Citizen launched a new blog on Thursday to cover Bensenvile's plight in the O'Hare expansion. Particularly interesting is a google map highlighting the places discussed on the blog.

Cabbing it Made Easy

Want to figure out how much your next cab ride should be (or want to make sure you're not getting ripped off when cabbing it in other large cities)? TaxiWiz estimates fares for a handful of cities, among them Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. I calculated some standard trips I take, and was very surprised by the resulting accuracy.

Parkways as Parks

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is launching a new program called Sunday Parkways, which will give riders and pedestrians in Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, North Lawndale and Little Village the opportunity to bike through their neighborhoods on streets without cars.

Scooting Around Gas Prices

With gas prices still above $4, scooters are booming in popularity. Did you know that Chicago is home to one of the only scooter companies in the US?

The Cost of Congestion

A new study says that congestion and gridlock in the Chicago area is costing us more than $7 billion in lost time and wasted fuel.

Flying High On LSD

It's not what you think.

Blue Line Service Disrupted

Just got notice from Drive-Thru Editor Robyn that the Grand Blue Line stop is closed due to a fire in the area as of 4:45pm. Details as we get them. While we're at it, the southbound Blue Line tracks will be shut down between Racine and the Medical Center from 9pm to 4am tonight. Southbound trains will run on the northbound tracks -- won't that be fun. UPDATE: No details ever emerged. I assume it's back to normal.

Biking In The Big City

If you'd like to learn more about what the city is doing to improve bicycling, attend a discussion at the Chicago History Museum this Tuesday. Titled "In the K/Now," a representative of Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and the Chicago Cycling Club will pass on tips for Big City Biking as well as tell you more about what to expect as more Chicagoans move on two wheels.

Bus Tracker Expanding

The CTA added its popular Bus Tracker to more routes last week, and a little birdy (FoGB George Aye, now working at the CTA) let us know that they plan to roll it out citywide by the end of the year.

Path of Destruction

Prompted by a Red Eye story on the lakefront bike path congestion, architecture critic Blair Kamin resurrects a 1998 column of his which shows that nothing much has changed. On your left...

Smile, You're On Red Light Camera

The city has 104 red light cameras. They plan on installing 25 more. They expect to collect more than $50 million in fines because of them. If gas prices weren't enough to make you ditch the car, this might do it.

CTA Finishes O'Hare Work Early

The work on the CTA Blue Line track between Rosemont and O'Hare is finishing four days early. Starting tomorrow, Blue Line riders will get to experience the thrill of Blue Line trains going to O'Hare at 55 mph. Yee haw!

CTA + Fail Whale + ??? = Profit!

Introducing Where the El?, twitter-driven live tracking of CTA trains.

Haulin' Gas

High gas prices has created a rise in the number of gas siphoning incidents here in Chicago, which in turn has resulted in a rise in the sale of locking gas caps.

Wear Lead Underwear

The TSA at O'Hare will soon have Superman vision.

Just Don't Sit Down

This fall, the CTA's going to start experimenting with seatless L cars.

Red Line Service Alert [UPDATED]

We just got notice that the Red Line is currently shut down southbound from Howard to Argyle Addison for "an emergency situation" at the Argyle stop. We'll keep you posted. UPDATE: Here's the current alert from the CTA. UPDATE 2: Service down to Granville has been restored, and shuttle buses are running between there and Addison. UPDATE 3: As of 5:50pm, according to the CTA, Red Line service has resumed.

CTA Building Bike Shelters

Good news for bike riders who use the trains: the CTA is building bicycle parking structures at 4 of its El stops where demand for bike parking has exceeded supply.

O'Hare Blue Line Shuttle Service

Don't forget, today's the day that the CTA is starting shuttle service between the O'Hare and Rosemont Blue Line stops, so that the CTA can work on the track between the two. Train service to O'Hare is expected to resume July 28.

Another Report, Another Last Place

O'Hare continues its stellar rankings among large airports, this time placing last in on-time departures and third to last in on-time arrivals. As usual, Midway fared better.

Airplane Fuel Finds New Home ... in the Lake

On Monday, an Air Nippon jet dropped about 1,450 gallons of its fuel into Lake Michigan. The Trib asks about the event and what's happening to the fuel.

I Can See Clearly Now

Attention all "playas": You may want to think about removing the tint from the front window of your "hooptie" (do they still call it that?). The city is considering raising the fine for having a tinted front car window from $25 to $250. Now as for that booming bass...

Stitching the CTA

Jessainthebox creates embroidery based on photos shot on CTA trains. [via]

That's the Ticket

The Expired Meter is a blog devoted solely to Chicago parking tickets. And yes, there's plenty to say on the topic.

Found in the Back of a Cab

Beyond calling the taxi company, if you lose something in a cab, you might want to put a listing in the Chicago Dispatcher, the weekly newspaper for the taxi industry. The paper's Lost & Found service covers all your bases.

Red Line Accident @ Wilson

GB staffer Jenni reports that there's been some sort of accident at the Wilson Red Line stop. Rumor on the street below is that someone jumped in front of a train. We'll keep you posted as details come out -- this might affect the evening commute. UPDATE: Still no details on what happened, but the CTA reports that service has resumed. Tribune has details about the accident.

A Desire for Streetcars?

The streetcar in Chicago is long gone, but leave it to a gas crunch to get people talking about bringing back the "Green Hornet."

Driven To Respond

The subject of a Sun-Times article in today's paper, who complained about the hardships of not having a car, gets a bit of a dressing down by (naturally) the author of the blog Chicago Carless.

How much for just one peanut?

Today, United Airlines announced it's following the trend set by American Airlines a few weeks ago, and will start to charge you $15 for that first checked bag. Analysts expect other airlines will follow suit with similar fees, as well as some others popping up for luxuries like selecting your seat ($10 for a window, $5 for a middle).

"An Airport to Nowhere"

Remember Peotone? Me neither.

Airport Express to be Privatized

Due to rising project costs the CTA is looking to private companies to develop the airport express project that will originate at Block 37.

Red Line Down (and Now Back Up)

As of 5:106:44pm today, the Red Line is shut down up and running again between 47th and Grand after a train hit killed someone a robbery suspect (who was fleeing a store he had just tried to rob) on the tracks near the Chinatown stop.

Sigh ... Another Cyclist Down

Clinton Miceli was killed last night when he was doored by an Xterra and thrown into oncoming traffic on North La Salle. This morning, a cyclist was struck by a CTA bus in Lakeview. Please, please, please be careful out there, drivers and cyclists alike. This week is Bike to Work Week, so let's be extra vigilant.

Alternative Fuel in Practice

The Sun-Times profiles Elmhurst resident Maureen Sullivan, who runs her car off of vegetable oil.

Pedestrians! Your Time is Now!

Yesterday, 101 cars were ensnared in a police sting designed to remind drivers they need to stop for pedestrians at all crosswalks.

Bike to Work Week Begins

Well, it really began on Saturday, but if you're a Monday-Friday commuter, now's your time to shine. Get information about bicycle commuter stations and events at the Chicago Bicycle Federation's website.

Montrose Hole Gets a Touch-up

Look out for lane closures this weekend.

Hybrid Owners Still Being Charged

Unlike other cities, Chicago is showing no special preferences to owners of hybrid cars by giving them a break on feeding the meter and providing them with free parking spaces to encourage their use. Should we really be surprised?

Yes, Again

A CTA train derailed for the second time in a week -- this time on the Red Line, near 95th.

The City's Gas Price Hotline

Drivers looking to get the "lowest reported gas station prices" can call the city's new hotline at 312-742-4427 or look online. The website is also where the city asks users to report gas station prices.

You Can't Get There From Here

Planning on flying to Buenos Aires or Honolulu before the year is over? Better move that date up. American Airlines announced it's cutting flights from Chicago to those two cities on September 3 and January 5, respectively.

Green Line Derailed

A Green Line train derailed on the South Side this morning, injuring about 10 people.

Leading Economic Indicator: Limo Rides

Apparently fewer people are taking limos to O'Hare and Midway, thanks to rising fuel costs and shrinking pocketbooks.

Missed My Train Connection

Post your subway crush here.

CTA Trains: Still Loud

In case you've forgotten since the last time this article was rolled out, the Sun-Times would like to remind you that decibel levels on the CTA can sometimes be dangerous. (This time there's video.)

Ouch.

Flickr user BlueFairlane demonstrates why it's important to wear a helmet when cycling ... and why cars drivers need to watch what they're doing.

City Drivers, Take Note

2009 vehicle stickers are now on sale, online.

Who's Bringing the Soy Milk?

If you're trying to get to work today via the I-80, you're already well aware that a semi carrying 10 tons of Oreo cookies crashed near Morris, IL early this morning. Although crews had successfully brushed the last of the crumbs to the side of the road by 6 am, the morning commute for those going eastbound is still totally dunked.

Chicago Wins the Worst Contest Ever

Currently holding the top spot in the country for gas prices: Chicago. Personally, I'd like to know where to find gas at the city's average of $4.07/gallon.

Sawing Signs To Steal Bikes

From the Chicagoland Stolen Bike Registry, a project to help understand patterns in comes this unfortunate report: "I locked my bike up very well to a metal pole/street sign in front of my friend's house... When I came out at midnight, the pole had been sawed through and thrown into the alley and my bike was no longer there." (Note: if you own a Specialized, be careful. They seem to be very "hot" lately with thieves.)

Good L, Bad L

The Sun-Times takes a look at the best and worst of the CTA trains.

What The El?

The CTA Tattler has a rundown on the CTA train reroutings this weekend. Due to work on the elevated tracks there will be some serious re-routing in the Loop. You might want to check out the details if you're planning to be downtown.

Rodent Infestation at O'Hare?

WGN says so. O'Hare says "no."

GTA v. CTA

The publishers of Grand Theft Auto 4 are suing the CTA over those GTA ads that were pulled from buses in April. The ads were originally supposed to stay up for six weeks between April and June.

Give It Up for the Crossing Guards!

This Wednesday is Crossing Guard Appreciation Day! Safe Routes to School and the Chicagoland Bike Federation want your help thanking the crossing guards who keep kids safe as they walk or bike to and from school. So buy the crossing guard in your life something sweet or a new whistle this Tuesday.

50,000 Pounds of Smoked Ribs ...

with "no sauce."

Road News: Potholes and Bus Lanes

IDOT is so overwhelmed by the volume and severity of potholes that it's hiring contractors to help catch up on the repairs. Meanwhile, CTA buses will soon get dedicated lanes, prepay kiosks at busy stops and other upgrades to help reduce congestion downtown.

Congestion Pricing in Chicago?

The federal government will likely give Chicago a grant to study innovative traffic reduction techniques in the city. Among the options to be considered are increased parking charges in specific locations and congestion pricing, which notably recently went out in a blaze of glory in New York.

That Death-Defying Cab Ride Just Got More Expensive

Beginning today, taxi drivers will be adding a $1.00 surcharge to cab fares to compensate for rising fuel costs.

Semi Hits Chinatown/Cermak Red Line Station

A semi-truck hit the north stairwell of the Chinatown/Cermak Red Line station around 5:20pm today; reportedly two people have been killed and many more injured. If you're heading that way, take an alternate route, as the area is swarmed with emergency response and the trains are delayed. Very sad.

Chicago Stolen Bike Registry

If you haven't been to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry in a while, it's worth visiting even if you haven't lost a bike. While you're there, check out the stolen bike statistics and theft map to help you know what to look out for and where to be particularly careful. Given 99.34% of the listed thefts were unrecovered, being careful is probably the way to go.

Button Up

Carfree Chicago has launched a new line of L Stop buttons for fashionistas who are interested in displaying neighborhood pride, support for public transit, or both. The buttons' bright, bold colors are perfect for springtime.

Chicago Rail Link To Iowa City Proposed

Amtrak says a Chicago-to-Iowa City rail line would carry 187,000 round-trip passengers a year, for a $55 million investment. National security and energy efficiency concerns have made rail lines an increasingly attractive alternative to flight for regional travel.

CTA Passengers, Unite!

Remember yesterday's blue line snafu? Check out images of the passenger revolt with some additional details via the NYTimes.

Bicycle Related Recycling

The city has put together a helpful web page about where you can recycle/donate your old unused bike (with some helpful suburban locations too) as well as link to a company who's willing to recycle bicycle tires. Since tires aren't supposed to go to a landfill, this is a huge help!

CTA Reaches Settlement in Blue Line Derailment Case

In July 2006, after the Blue Line derailed and started a small fire near the Clark/Lake stop, 85-year old Elfa Lari suffered major injuries. Today, on the same day that the Blue Line once again had to be evacuated near the Clark/Lake stop, the agency reached an agreement to settle the case for $1.25 million.

Blue Line Really Down

Hope you didn't need it today: there's a train stuck at Clark & Lake, and it's shut down the line. Read a first-person account after the jump.

Shylo Bisnett reports: "My morning commute was cut short just outside Clark and Lake. The stuck-train issue was complicated by anxious passengers, some who waited more than 90 minutes or more, who opened the trains doors and took to the tracks. After a lengthy wait, the conductor of my train finally let us out onto the catwalk. We all emerged, dirty from the handrail, via a Fulton & Jefferson emergency exit. Best quote from the conductor: 'This is what happens when you have 40-year-old trains.'" Time Out has yet more firsthand coverage.

Blue Line's Closed

An exploration of abandoned Blue Line stations.

Next Southbound Train in 4 Minutes; Crest Toothpaste is Great

CTA announced that digital screens that announce real-time arrival information for trains will soon be added to more stations; the signs will also display advertisements, which the CTA expects could earn millions in revenue for their coffers.

Not Easy Fixes

Popular Mechanics listed the Circle Interchange and O'Hare as two of the "10 pieces of U.S. infrastructure we must fix right now." Not sure how you'd fix the Circle, but Daley's right on top of it with O'Hare... right?

Now That's What I Call a Winning Combination

Google has teamed up with the CTA to make planning your trip a whole lot easier.

Bus Stalking Made Easier

Today begins the CTA Bus Tracker program for a handful of routes, with more to be added in May.

I hope you're not flying ATA today

Because you're not flying ATA today. Or ever again.

Go Ahead, Spread Out

The CTA permanently added two cars to all brown line trains yesterday, though no one seems to have noticed yet. Sounds like you might score a seat if you head for the ends of the platform.

Your To-From Cost

Wondering how much that cab ride is gonna be? Check with Taxi Fare Finder. [via]

But What About The Litterbugs?

The CTA has successfully sent a 24-year old to jail for two years for spray painting the outside of an El car back in December. I think vandalism sucks and all, but couldn't time and money have been better spent hiring some cleaning crews for the inside of the cars instead?

But the Schedule is So Accurate

CTA will be soon be unveiling the selected bus routes that will have GPS tracking ability, with riders able to track routes online by April 7. ChicagoBus.org already has a list of the majority of the routes on hand, among them the Western 49/x49 line.

Getting Harder to Get Here

...by plane, anyway. A week after they started flying to Gary-Chicago, SkyBus Airlines cut its service to Greensboro, NC (its only service) in half. Not to be outdone, AirTran is stopping flying between Midway and Minneapolis on May 5.

Senior Service

Wake Great Uncle Billy: Free rides for seniors began today on the CTA. Get the details on the program here.

Good, I Hated Being Seen on the 54th/Cermak Blue Line Train

The CTA will be eliminating the Blue Line service to 54th/Cermak for six months beginning April 27, claiming that Pink Line service to the same terminus has gobbled up the rider share and made the 54th/Cermak Blue Line the least-used in the CTA network. Along with making several experimental bus lines (78, 170-174, 192) permanent additions to their schedule, CTA claims that it will increase operating hours and service on several bus lines, and up the Forest Park and O'Hare Blue Line train service as a result.

Go Undercover for the CTA

The CTA is recruiting riders for its Mystery Shopper program. Good observational skills are required; trench coats and spy glasses are optional.

CTA's Gum Busters

As Ron Huberman says, "Gum is the nemesis of transit."

ATA Bails on Midway

Due to rising fuel costs, ATA will discontinue its domestic service at Midway Airport on April 14 and international service on June 7. If you have a flight that will be impacted by ATA's departure, you can visit the airline's website for refund information.

The CTA is Really Going to Get Better...

this year... really... we swear.

Watch Those Red Lights

The city is about to install as many as 220 new red light traffic cameras. They've only announced six locations, but two are likely regular intersections for driving GB readers: Belmont and Lake Shore Drive along with Belmont and Halsted.

Bike Rentals, Parisian-Style

French company JCDecaux is offering to renegotiate its bus shelter contract in order to bring low cost bike rentals to the downtown area.

Bus 54, Where Are You?

The CTA is going to expand its GPS bus tracking system this spring, one garage at a time. (Didn't know there was such a thing? Check it out.)

Freeze, Thaw, Freeze, Thaw, Ouch

NPR shares Chicago's scourge with the nation: 250,000 potholes.

Take the Blue Line to DuPage County

Yesterday, the RTA heard a $5.5 billion proposal to extend the Blue Line as far as Yorktown Center.

Walk to the CTA

You'll always know where you're going in these shoes. [via]

CTA's Phase 2 Begins March 30

And what does Phase 2 mean, I hear someone ask? The CTA Tattler has all the details; 20% reduced capacity on the Red Line (boo!), larger trains on the Brown Line (yay!), and the southbound trains will start to share a single track, while northbound trains will have access to two tracks (boo! yay!).

Psst. Wanna Lease an Airport?

A 50-year lease for Midway Airport is up for grabs.

Twitter Your Way Through Traffic

Commuter Feed is a new traffic reporting service built on Twitter. Follow Chicago's traffic patterns here.

Insert Knowing, Wry Travel Title Here

Once again helping provide cheap posts for city-focused blogs all over the country, US News and World Report published a list of America's Most Miserable Airports, with O'Hare coming in at #1 (lots of delays & very full flights).

Leave My Bags Alone!

Got a complaint about the TSA? Register it on this site, developed by Chicago programmer Matt Dennewitz. (Thanks, Paul!)

Big Fines for Drivers vs. Bikes

Wednesday, Mayor Daley, who has given "salutes...in the Chicago way" to motorists who have perhaps dangerously impeded his progress as a cyclist, proposed raising fines to as much as $500 for turning right in front of a bicyclist, opening a door into the path of a cyclist or passing too closely.

Write to Bike

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, and Trek Bike Corp. are sponsoring a bicycle safety essay contest for Illinois fourth- and fifth-graders. Winners will receive Trek 820 mountain bikes and helmets for submitting the best essay. All entries must be postmarked no later than March 31, and must be 100 words or less.

Your Auto Show Prep

The 100th annual Chicago Auto Show opens Friday, so we here's a couple things to get you ready: Jalopnik's newness cheat sheet, Showlopnik, the derivatively named intern blog, and the 8th annual Auto Show Shutdown. After the jump, links to car blogs' CAS category archives.


Jalopnik
AutoBlog
• Cars.com's Kicking Tires

Fogged In

That beautiful fog that swathed the city in film noir magic last night? It also canceled about about a thousand flights at O'Hare and Midway.

Chicago El Stories

CTA art isn't usually all that interesting, but this work by Jonathan Gitelson looks amazing, at least online. We'll have to wait for the Armitage stop to reopen to be sure.

Bicycling Gets a Boost

The REI Bicycle Friendly Communities Grant Program has awarded the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation with a $15,000 grant in recognition of its mission to make Chicago a more bike-friendly city. The Federation will use the grant to fund Sunday Parkways, a program that provides traffic-free biking on selected city streets during weekends and holidays.

Subway Rides to get Faster, Quieter, Safer, Less Smelly

CTA announced yesterday the purchase of 400 new rail cars that will roll into service in 2010. The cars feature live video security cameras, flat-screen monitors that display the train's current location, state-of-the-art diagnostic systems, and stain-and-smell resistant seat fabric. The new trains can run up to 70mph, unless you're in a beloved slow zone. Sadly cattle prods to move doorway loungers into the cars during rush hour will not be included.

Kid Sister on Car Share

Chicago rapper Kid Sister tips her hat to I-Go on the Canadian MuchMusic blog. [via]

Metra Fares Will Still Increase

If you were hoping transit funding from Springfield would stave off Metra fare hikes, you're going to be disappointed.

How Long Will it Take?

ChicaGO, a new mapping service developed by two Loyola students, tries to give you an idea of how long it'll take to get from one point to another using the CTA.

An End to "Doomsdays"?

The Senate and the House just approved a long-term plan to aid the CTA. Relief is in the air - provided Blago doesn't veto. If you'd like to give the Gov your two cents about transit, call (217) 782-6830 or email, asking that he sign the bill.

Busking Underground

The Chi-Town Daily News looks into the lives of musicians in the CTA subway.

Gary to Columbus (Sky)bus

Folks flying to Columbus will soon have an option other than Southwest at Midway -- Skybus at Gary. (I think I'll stick with Midway, thanks.)

$15,739

You may want to check your I-PASS balance.

Woe is We Commuters

How bad is the CTA's budget crisis? Bad enough to catch the attention of The Economist. (Thanks, Jill!)

Fly South Side

Wired reports that all the major airports suck in terms of delays, but Midway is the ninth least sucky of them all. (O'Hare is toward the back of the pack, naturally.)

CTA Service For New Year's Eve

If you're planning to go out tonight for your New Year's Eve celebration, keep in mind that the CTA will be increasing the frequency of some downtown bus lines and all train lines. Full details over at the CTA Website. And if you're saving up your pennies for those famous "1-cent fares," you might want to read this post at the CTA Tattler for the startling truth about penny fares!

Holy Roller's New Year's Eve

A little birdie told me about this shindig, especially if you're into bikes and bike people. Ring in this New Year in high style at Holy Roller's New Year's Eve. This dance party benefits West Town Bikes. The evening's entertainers include Matt Roan + E, DJ Andrew Foster and DJ Coyote DG. Enjoy a midnight dance-a-long with Chicago's own Team Band. There's a secret location that you have to RSVP for, as well as some other fancy spy like stuff. Details in Slowdown.

Thanks for the Earmark, Dick!

Senator Dick Durbin earmarked some cash for a few local projects in the big Federal spending bill this week. Included were millions for CTA Circle Line development, Brown Line reconstruction, Metra expansion and bus and train service statewide. (Thanks, Sarah!)

The Holiday Train's Leavin'

The CTA's Holiday Train will be finishing its 2007 run this weekend, so if you haven't caught the train yet, it's your last chance! The train will be running on the Yellow Line today, and on the Orange Line this Saturday. See the CTA site for a schedule, and check out the Holiday Train photos on Flickr.

More Pedal Power

The SRAM grant program has awarded $10,000 in mini-grants to four causes that advance bicycling, including Bike Winter and West Town Bikes.

Move Over, Virginia - O'Hare is for Lovers, Too

A new study sponsored by AXE (a male grooming brand) finds that flight delays can lead to romantic connections. Thanks to its poor on-time percentage, O'Hare places a respectable 13th on the list of major US airports; Midway limps in at number 31. The best matchmaker? Philadelphia International Airport. Start rearranging your connecting airports, people.

Beware the One-Day Walkoff

Possible CTA strike from Sunday night through Monday.

Don't Walk

The Center for Neighborhood Technology wants pedestrians to be as safe as possible. So they're offering a new PDF "Pedestrian Rules of the Road" (PDF) to keep you out of danger.

Not a Biological Weapon

Frequent flyers take note: O'Hare and Midway will be offering flu shots near the gates this year.

Live Video Chat with Ron Huberman

Submit questions now and show up today at 2pm for a live video chat with CTA President Ron Huberman.

Don't Park There! It's Gonna Snow!

As if the city could predict the arrival of the first winter storm of the season, the December to April winter parking bans go into effect tomorrow morning. Check your street (or these maps) for the snowflake-emblazoned signs, and don't count on any leniency from the tow truck drivers if you're car's in the wrong zone come 3am.

Where's the Kiss and Fly?

Parking rates at O'Hare and Midway airports are moving on up as of tomorrow. You'll feel the biggest hurt parking in the international lot at O'Hare, where the daily rate leaps from $30 to $50 per day. Other increases are more modest, unless you roll big and valet, which will run you $45 (as opposed to $32). All this plus proposed city and county tax hikes? 'Tis the season!

Considering a New Career Path?

A mere 12 days after the latest near-miss of two planes near Chicago, Lewis University announced Tuesday in timely fashion that it will be the first Illinois school to offer an air-traffic controller degree. What a great job: "marked by high stress levels, bad work hours, little glory and the fear never far from a controller's thoughts that one mistake could kill a lot of people."

Has It Come to This?

Apparently, it's national news when travel goes smoothly at O'Hare, a.k.a. "the hub that has been the scene of so many traveler nightmares."

The Mayor Chimes In

We wondered what the mayor's plan was for the CTA. Well know we know.

More Public Transportation Woes

Facing a $4 million shortfall, Metra ratified a proposed budget containing a series of 10% fare increases along with a weekend rate jump to $7 a pop. The RTA still has to sign off before the rates are set.

Not Much of a Surprise

Illinois drivers' understanding of traffic laws ranks 45th out of the 50 states.

The Holiday Train's Comin'

Well, there's one cut the CTA hasn't made (yet): the Holiday Train. Get your fix of twinkle lights, garlands and Santa all while moving down the tracks on your favorite CTA line. The Red and Purple lines get the train first, starting this weekend. Check the CTA's website for a full schedule of when the train'll be at your station.

Putting the C in CTA

The Beachwood Reporter is asking what the Mayor and the folks in the Hall are doing to prevent a CTA meltdown -- besides, of course, hiring a guy plucky enough to come up with a show-stopping number like rolling "doomsdays."

Like to Get to Know You

Although it's reportedly unlikely, Delta Airlines is thinking about buying United in an effort to deal with rising jet fuel costs.

ParkingAnyTime

ParkingAnyTime.com, is "a free community generated parking guide that connects motorists with on and off-street parking". Somewhat useful, especially in finding garages and getting the actual parking restrictions on a street, but areas covered are severely limited thus far.

Flying In Fast

According to New York magazine, the fastest flight from NYC to CHI is on ATA from Laguardia to Midway. The worst? Kennedy to O'Hare on Delta.

Pick the Photo ID that Looks Most Like You

Not that anyone thinks airports are safe, but recent security breeches and bomb threats relating to Chicago operations sure make the TSA look even more incompetent.

You Can't Kill the CTA Doomsday

The newest CTA doomsday date: January 20, according to a CTA press release. 81 bus routes eliminated, 2,400 employees laid off, 3 garages closed, and new fare pricing structure.

Doomsday Called Off, Band-Aid Applied

Looks like Monday will be a commute just as usual, in more ways than one. CTA and Pace have accepted short-term assistance from the Governor. Again.

Sadie Hawkins' Day Race & Style Ride

The now annual Sadie Hawkins' Day Race & Style Ride is back again, November 10th. What is it? "Sadie Hawkins Day Race/Style Ride is an on-street, in-traffic, point-to-point bike adventure for couples or pairs... There are prizes for the fastest couple, fastest tandem team, fastest out of towners, best dressed, and more." Last year's inaugural event drew people from out of town, generated a ton of missed connections and suffice to say, there were a few couples that are still together to this day.

It's Touch-and-Go at Chicago Gas Stations

In an unlikely application of high technology, 10 Chicago Shell gas stations are getting fingerprint scanning payment systems. Expect a mad rush on Play Doh locally as well.

Another Way to Whine

Chicago Tribune public transit forum.

A Useful Message from the CTA

A pitiful email from CTA President Ron Huberman with the subject line "Please Prepare for Next Week" appeared in my inbox tonight. "I ask that you take the time to prepare for next week's commute," he begged me, asking that I review the service cuts and fare increases expected to begin this Sunday and create a new transit plan, if needed. Given the media blackout on this topic, I'm grateful for the update. Someone get that guy a copy of this book!

Blow Off Commuting Steam

Not as civil as the Tattler, but a good venue for transportation woes: CTA Sucks.

O'Hare Screeners Miss 60% of Fake Bomb Material

USA Today reports that screeners at O'Hare missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons. LAX did worse -- missed 75% -- while SFO missed only 20%. The head of the TSA says the the high failure rates stem from increasingly harder tests.

Hail This Down

Dmitry Samarov blogs about his experiences as a Chi-town cabbie over at HACK. He even draws his passengers. The Sun-Times recently profiled this Soviet immigrant turned driver, including some fun quotes about getting propositioned.

Be 1 in 1,000 for Cellphone Parking Payments

The City of Chicago just launched a new six-month in-car parking meter program. Drivers pre-pay an initial $15 either at City Hall or online and they get the device for free. The rate will depend on what zone the meter is located, and you have to call which explains all the recent zone stickers. It's a pilot program limited to 1,000 people.

Pulling Over the Party

The City ordered the "Party Cab" to clean out the decorations by Thursday, meaning there's one less interesting ride home.

Metra "Sabotage"?

The FBI is investigating the removal of a dozen spikes from Metra tracks near 100th Street and the Bishop Ford.

And Justice for Cyclists...

GB alumni and fellow teammate Luke Seemann recounts a hit-and-run during the team's weekly Saturday morning ride up to Highland Park and back on his excellent Chicago Bike Racing. Clearly an attack on the riders who were paying attention to the rules of the road, the culprit turned himself in and is now facing felony charges in court. Luke has further details on Thomas Lynch.

Riding with the Prez

Maybe the reason the CTA changed its mind on the Chicago Card is because its president, Ron Huberman, rides the rails, too.

Don't Sweat the Expiring Chicago Card

Good news for Chicago Card holders who were going to have to jump through CTA's hoops. The CTA is reversing its decision.

Still Want To See A Smartcar?

If you want to check out the undeniably nifty Smartcar then you've missed your Chicago chance for a test drive -- the Smart Team came through in June. But next week they'll be in Louisville if you fancy a roadtrip, and St. Louis on Oct 3rd.

Paper Jam

When it takes you a half hour to get from the circle interchange to Roosevelt you may not need a national study to tell you Chicago traffic is one of the worst in the nation. Well here it is anyway.

Is Your Chicago Card Expiring?

Since pinching pennies is the rule of the day with the CTA, make sure your pennies stay right where you put them on your Chicago Card. If you ran out and got a card when they were first offered four years ago, your card might be expiring as early as October 17th (note: this doesn't affect Chicago Card Plus users). To check the status of your card, and to replace it, talk to a customer service agent in person, go online or call 888-968-7282.

Is Chicago Bike-Friendly?

The Tribune sent a reporter and photographer along with two Chicagoland Bicycle Federation employees to ask the question in an article with video. Of course, they find out what most of us already know: cars mean trouble. Go ahead and take the poll, if you're so inclined.

Grave Matter

The juggernaut-like O'Hare expansion plan won another victory when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the notion that relocating 1,600 graves in 158-year-old St. Johannes Cemetery in Bensenville, IL, to make room for more runways violated the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "We are very excited about this decision," said our not-at-all-ghoulish mayor.

No Money For CTA?

The plan to increase sales taxes in Cook and neighboring counties to raise funds for Chicago-area mass transit systems failed in the Illinois house. Supporters hope to build more support for the plan in the days to come, but service cuts and fare increases loom on September 16. As GB reported earlier, it's probably a good time to get your Chicago Card.

$0 Chicago Card

Given the pending fare hike, the CTA is waiving the $5 fee for the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus until Halloween. The cards will make riding 50¢ to $1 cheaper, depending on the time of day and location, so it's worth the effort to find a sales location [pdf] or use the separate online ordering sites for the Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.

Block 37 Over Budget

The Block 37 project is millions over budget, to the surprise of nobody. Crain's reports that the city is now in talks with the same firm that leased the Skyway to privatize the CTA station below the block.

Bike Melee

Tonight's Critical Mass bicycle rally ended with police action, including some arrests. Bikers were turned away from the planned route to 12th St. Beach by police, who came by paddywagon, ATV, Segway and even bike to stop the throng. Visit CCM to upload your personal ride report.

Zone 6

Chicagoist answers a question I've been wondering the last week or two: What's up with the new "Zone #" stickers on all the parking meters?

On the Fly

If you've ever been down Ravenswood near Wilson, you might have seen the rather large stickered and logoed truck with bright red, yellow and black graphics that say, "On the Fly." The Chicago Traveler has the scoop: On the Fly is a mobile bike mechanic shop. Joe Ebervein and Rich Kwaitkowski will go where you are to get you on the road again.

Taxi Cab Confessions

HACK is a blog by taxi driver and artist Dmitri Samarov, created as a companion to his pretty amazing website. Check out his other "Hack," a minicomic about his day job.

Bicycle Breathing Room

A new state law signed by Gov. Blagojevich this past weekend gives bicyclists something to be happy about: more room. The law allows bicyclists to move further into the travel lane to avoid getting cut off by right-turning cars. It also requires drivers to give bikers three feet of room when passing. To aid in communication, the new law allows bike riders to signal a right turn with the right arm (effectively letting you point to where you're going).

Your Attention Please...

The CTA Tattler runs down a list of some of the CTA's rules of behavior.

Fake Breasts, Wheelchairs and Laptops

The Sun-Times' Transportation section features a fun little article about some of the more random stuff found in the CTA's lost and found. So, if you're wondering where your porn, bicycle, or prosthetic breast (all items mentioned in the story, btw) ended up, now you know.

Friday Mass

If recent talk of some riders wanting to disband the Chicago Critical Mass has you riled up, you may want to weigh in on the matter.

You've Been Warned: CTA Weekend Rail Closures

I found out about this transit change the hard way this past weekend: on the weekends of July 14 and 21, as well as August 11 and 25, CTA trains will not run between the O'Hare line's Western/Milwaukee and Clark/Lake stations (on August 11, the Jackson/Dearborn station will also be closed). Instead, a bus shuttle will run between all closed stations to substitute for the faster, more convenient train service.

Critical Mass Closing Down?

The September 28 celebration of the 10th anniversary of Chicago's Critical Mass ride may also be the marking of its end, as reported in the Sun Times. The large draw of participants dedicated to showing the benefits of cycling is apparently causing more problems than displaying productive transit solutions; apparently no one likes a group of loud, drunk folks on bikes (but if you've seen a Critical Mass ride, you know that hardly describes the majority of riders). Before you start crying in despair, note that no formal plans have been made to shut down the ride, which is scheduled for the last Friday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in Daley Plaza.

Aviophobics in Style

Amtrak and GrandLuxe have teamed up to bring high-end GrandLuxe Limited service on regular Amtrak routes that primarily involve Chicago. Of course, a luxury train ride isn't cheap; routes start at $789.

The CTA: What Might Have Been

Lee Bey of The Urban Observer directs our attention to a CTA study I've not heard of before. The Chicago Central Area Transit Plan made a case for tearing down the Loop's elevated lines and replacing them with subways that connected with the existing lines in the rest of the city. Unfortunately the project ended up $500 million short so it died before it ever got off the ground. But I think Lee is correct in asking if the city will ever dream that big again.

404 HAX0R WTF

Hope you didn't try to fly out of O'Hare on United yesterday. Nearly all of the Chicago hometown's computer system crashed, bringing the fleet to a screeching halt. In today's Crain's, UAL COO Pete McDonald blamed it all on one guy. Wonder if his last name is "Bartman."

Just a Little Greener

As of today, Cheikh "Bamba" Dione is the first fleet-based hybrid taxi driver in Chicago. Oh, and if you attend the formal unveiling, you may be lucky enough to watch David Hudson receive CCC's Cab Driver of the Year award and then witness his hand print and signature rendered in wet cement for CCC's "Walk of Fame."

There Is Another Year Directly Behind This One

Happy birthday to The CTA Tattler! The blog celebrates its third anniversary today.

Lincoln Park Pirate Watch

ChicagoTows.com is a nearly real-time database of Chicago vehicle towing. Keep your eye on those pirates. (Thanks, Pat!)

That's Customer Service

The CTA may suck in a lot of ways, but at least there's one employee willing to retrieve the walkman you dropped on the tracks.

Jake and Elwood Still at Large

The Methods Reporter site has pointed out an article by Taryn Luntz that reveals the city paid as much as $7 million last year settling lawsuits for police car accidents. Especially mind-boggling: $6 million of that went toward settling two separate accidents in 2001 and 2003.

No More Waiting Until 3pm!

The Department of Streets and Sanitation has a special treat for Bucktown and Wicker Park residents -- and, no, it's not the usual orange one. The city is testing out a new light program that will signal when it's ok to park on a street after it's been cleaned.

A Locally Grown Hybrid

Car, that is. A couple of weeks ago, IIT's Armour College of Engineering entered a car in the student 2007 Formula Hybrid competition. They finished in 5th out of 6th in overall points, but more than doubled their previous speed record. They have their eyes on first place next year.

Free Water Taxis in June

The Chicago Water Taxi Company is offering two weeks of free service starting June 4th. The service runs from roughly the opera house to just past Columbus Ave on the North side of the river, with stops at LaSalle Ave. and Michigan Ave. too. (Of course it isn't free, but the kayak tour of downtown is pretty amazing too.)

Anger... Rising... Must... Fight...

Despite our huge number of highways and interminable construction, Chicago only ranks seventh in road rage, according to the annual In the Drivers Seat survey.

GoogleMaps Has Traffic Now Too

Perhaps you've already noticed, but Google Maps has added a "Traffic" view to their maps. Handy if you're lazy like me and can't remember the official traffic maps web page.

More Bike Lanes!

As part of the Bike 2015 plan, the City of Chicago will be adding several green colored bike lanes at several new locations this summer, including at Dearborn and Chicago, Elston and Division, Halsted and Roosevelt, Lincoln and Webster and more. Get more info at Chicago Bikes.

Scourge of the Suburbs

A revolt is underway in the suburbs. The target: new sidwalks. After all, with sidewalks, "who knows what you'd be encouraging to come through?" The Trib's online readers are having none of it, with approximately 90% saying sidewalks in neighborhoods are "a positive addition."

Wednesday Wish

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation needs your help in making Chicago biking a little more friendly. On Wednesdays, when you encounter a fellow biker on the road, give a wave. It's that simple!

The Incredible Moving L Station House

Check out this mini-photo essay documenting the Belmont L station house move [window resizes].

Coolest. Bike. Ever.

Even if riding bikes downtown on a Friday isn't your thing, Chicago's Critical Mass is also a dance party, delightful freakshow, a showcase for taking bikes out of the trash and doing really cool things with them. Like this beauty from one of Chicago's more innovative bike designers.

"Put Traction Issue Up to Straphangers"

The Tribune has an interesting list of Chicago transit facts (with an inexplicably capitalized headline).

Track That Bus!

Starting this summer, the CTA has announced that it will expand its GPS-enabled bus tracking system to all North side buses that come into contact with the three-track operations on the Red, Brown and Purple lines.

Frank Kruesi Resigns

Kruesi out, Huberman in.

Electric Avenue

If you've had your eye on a Zap Electric Car, it seems you're among friends. Today, Zap announced a $79 million deal with Northbrook-based Electric Vehicle Company. According to Zap, it's the largest order for a consumer fleet of electric cars in history. (Thanks, Jeff)

Transportation Dream Come True

After years of feet dragging, it looks like the CTA, Metra and Pace will finally create a unified fare card.

Sunday Parkways Forum Discussion

This is a real-life flesh n' blood forum discussion about the proposed Sunday Parkways — a community effort to give communities safe spaces to interact with neighbors. Inspired by Columbia and Mexico, in essence they are traffic-free times on weekends and holidays for pedestrians and cyclists to interact on selected streets. This Wednesday, April 11th from 6:30 to 7:30pm at Richmond Hall in St. Sylvester Church, 2156 N. Richmond St.

Chicago History Roundup

From the establishment of the Hull House Theater to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Sun Times lists their take on "The 50 Greatest Chicago Moments."

Public Hearings Next Week On Red Line Extension

The CTA will be holding two southside meetings to discuss the possibility of extending the Red Line from its existing south terminal at 95th Street to a new terminal at 130th Street. For more information contact, DCP: 773-928-2500 or LVEJO: 773-762-6991 and here are more details about the April 10 and 11 meetings.

A WBEZ Four-Way

Instead of mindlessly kvetching about the CTA construction on the North Side, four intrepid WBEZ reporters did an experiment as to which mode of transport is the fastest: car, bike, Metra or CTA. Not surprisingly, the car won, but the bike came in second. Read or download the full story.

MegaBus Expands Cheap Midwest Travel

A great reminder of the possibilities of regional travel at an affordable rate, Megabus.com recently announced that starting on April 2 you can go to 5 additional cities in the region. The company known for its sliding scale and often very cheap tickets will now take Chicagoans to and from the cities of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky. and Pittsburgh. This makes 13 total regional cities accessible via the express bus line, joining the previously serviced cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Toledo, Ohio.

The Blues Line

Speaking of the NYT, the Grey Lady turned her attention to our glorious transit system this weekend, and noted its "precarious" funding situation and crumbling condition.

A Home Turf Challenge to Boeing

Plane watchers will be pleased to hear the Airbus A380 will definitely visit O'Hare tomorrow.

Plug It In, Plug It In!

IIT is about to boost the Chicago Department of Fleet Management's Green Fleets Action Agenda [pdf] with a prototype plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The city will decide whether it wants more of the cars after a four to six month trial.

CTA to Add Flight Departure Info at Clark & Lake

The CTA will be installing Flight Departure Info Displays at the Clark & Lake station for flights leaving from both O'Hare and Midway. Precisely what you need to stay calm and relaxed while waiting for the train.

Freeloader Alert

It seems that the Millenium Park Metra Station (nee Randolph St. Station) is now complete. To celebrate, Metra's giving free coffee to commuters at that station on Friday.

Work For Bikes

Love biking? Want to advance the cause? And get paid or valuable work experience? The Chicagoland Bike Federation wants you to know about a few key opportunities. Apply to be a bike ambassador, design and marketing intern, bikeways planning intern, and more. Put your wheel where your, um, mouth is.

Check Your Email Before You Fly

O'Hare and Midway now offer a service that will email or text you with up-to-date flight information. That'll help, right?

One Station Opens, One Station Closes

CTA Brown Line renovation update: the Francisco stop re-opens tomorrow morning one week ahead of schedule, and the Southport station will close on April 2 for up to one year of work.

Driving a Bus Seemed to be a Great Way to Meet New People

Or so recalls Mary Wallace, the CTA's first-ever female bus driver, who has just retired after 33 years of keeping people on the go. Thanks to Wallace's trailblazing, today 24% of the CTA's bus drivers are women.

e-Abby Ryan

Just in time for the second phase of I-90/94 construction, Google Maps has launched real-time traffic information for several US cities, including Chicago.

Robocop is Watching You

The Chicago Police have a new weapon in their arsenel: the automated license plate reader, capable of scanning thousands of plates an hour and checking them against stolen vehicle reports. And, one would imagine, expired plates.

"ENOUGH! ALL OF YOU ARE LEAVING THIS TRAIN!"

Awesome story at CTA Tattler of someone kicking three drunk, obnoxious guys off the Brown Line.

CTA Bother You? Call Blago.

The Tribune's Kyra Kyles recommends that instead of pissing and moaning about CTA problems, you call write and email Governor Blagojevich and tell him to support the RTA's budget requests. Here are his numbers: 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121. You could take it a step further by looking up your local, state and federal reps at Civic Footprint and bugging all of them. (Thanks, Will!)

ZAPping the Chicago Auto Show

ZAP!, a company that specializes in designing alternative and fuel-efficient automotive systems, will release its electric XEBRA car at the Chicago Auto Show. Priced at $10,000 with an operating cost of one cent per mile, it could certainly be a high-value commuter car.

Another Step Towards the Great Midwestern Megalopolis

Now that Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee are seriously considering feeding into Metra, a Milwaukee historian has summarized the interesting transportation history we have with our neighbors to the north.

30th Anniversary of CTA Crash

On February 4, 1977 there was a terrible crash between two CTA trains in the Loop. Eleven people were killed and at least 250 passengers were injured when the trains crashed near the train track curve at Wabash and Lake. The CTA Tattler has the roundup on the terrible day in CTA history.

No Parkin' in Oak Park

If you have visited a friend in Oak Park or happen to have a friend who lives in Oak Park, then you probably know that Oak Park has some major rules about parking on the street. The law that prevents people from parking on the street in front of their home was passed in 1929 and some folks are finally considering repealing it, starting with this survey. And since Oak Park is only distributing this survey online (boo! hiss!) go fill it out for yourself, your friend, or mine. Thanks, eep.

You Will Be Assimilknitted

Subway Knitter knits one and purls two in Boston, but one of her projects, the Amazing Charlie Card Mitten might suit frigid users of the CTA's Chicago Card. Keep your hands toasty warm while taking the first steps toward your inevitable Borg conversion. Resistance is futile.

"Free Portraits Inside"

Check out this recent write-up of Thomas Marlow's Chicago Street Studio Project in the Australian media.

Texting for Public Transportation Change

Thanks to Neighbors Project, you don't have to get off of the train or bus to meaningfully express your frustration with the CTA. Power up your phone and text cta[your zip code]@npjt.org to send the message featured here to Mayor Daley, as well as your alderman, state representative and state senator. Their website also offers the means to spread the word.

Second City Cop Wonders About Aggressive Towing

Second City Cop, a lively anonymous weblog maintained by a Chicago police officer, asks "Are We at War? ...with Streets and Sanitation?". In typical SCC fashion, the copious comments pile on details about the post (unmarked police cars being ticketed and towed)-- naming names, giving locations, mentioning companies-- and also fly off into a bunch of rewarding off-topic directions. It's like being an invisible man in a cop bar. Careful, though-- there's no way to know that the commenters are bona fide People in Blue. SCC also reports that upwards of 40% of their traffic comes from outside the state of Illinois most days and there are "a number of remote computers that seem to monitor the site for inordinately long amounts of time, one of which is based in Springfield and another at Champaign-Urbana". Wonder who that could be...

What's Wrong with the CTA?

Why, lots of things! Crain's offers some explanations in an in-depth feature..

Coming Soon: Cheap Nonstop to Hong Kong

Tell your friends and family overseas: Oasis Hong Kong, a no-frills, low-cost airline, has applied to make Chicago one of its departure points. Right now Oasis offers a nonstop flight between London and Hong Kong for as little as $150 (plus tax and fees) one way, so it's fair to expect highly affordable tickets.

Tell Carole

Via CTATattler, an invitation for you to let CTA Chair Carole Browne know how you feel about recent service-crippling developments (and maybe refer her to Fuel).

Bicycle Film Festival '07: Call for Submissions

After last year's small success in Chicago, we've heard word that the Bicycle Film Festival will be back again. Currently, founding director Brendt Barbur and co are looking for new submissions for the 2007 round of film festivals set to take place in up to 15 cities: "We are looking for films with a strong theme or character of bicycles. This includes all mediums and styles such as animation, experimental, narrative, documentary and music videos." The deadline is February the 17th so you have about a month to get going or fine-tune that piece you've been working on. Details at the site or take a look at the flyer here.

Oh, Chicago Airports, Why Do You Hate Us?

For all the trouble at O'Hare, it looks like Midway isn't safe either.

Let's Hear About the El

CTA Tattler reports that Alderman Joe Moore will call for City Council hearings on the continued devolution of CTA train service. Full text of Moore's resolution here.

Double Trouble at O'Hare

The next time you're flying out of O'Hare, check the sky for UFOs, then check under your seat for scorpions.

Details about CTA Construction

"You should budget at least double the amount of time to get home and 50 percent additional time to get to work." Oh, good.

Winter Bike to Work Day

Like it's sibling in the summer, the Winter edition of Bike to Work Day coming up features hot beverages and goodies at Daley Plaza this month on the 19th (Friday) from 7 to 9am. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation hosts activities, a raffle with prizes and the chance to congregate and meet up with your fellow cyclists.

Fallen Rider Memorial Ride

A group of Chicago cyclists (myself being one of them) have organized a ride to raise awareness of the growing number of cyclist fatalities in the Chicagoland area. Named the "Fallen Rider Memorial Ride", the ride will start at the Thompson Center at 6pm tomorrow, January the 3rd and will ride to Diversey and Pulaski at an easygoing and respectful pace. The goal? To highlight how important driving and cycling are to Chicago and how the two require attention and respect. A PDF flyer can be viewed, downloaded, printed and passed along from here.

"Weather Phenomenon" or Something Else?

Some United employees saw a UFO at O'Hare on November 7th, but the FAA's having none of it.

Ride CTA on the Cheap

As in past years, you can ride CTA busses and trains for one cent until 6:00 AM New Year's Day. (Also note extended hours on some routes.) Happy New Year!

Find A Spot

ParkWhiz is another site to help you find a parking spot, with a rating system and distance gauge -- find a parking garage within a five-minute walk of your destination, for instance. They're rolling out a new "marketplace" early next year, which will allow drivers to reserve and pay for parking spaces in participating garages online, well before they arrive at the ticket box.

Another Day, Another CTA Problem

Expect trouble tonight if you're heading out on the Orange Line train to Midway, or the Green Line. Around noon today, an Orange Line train derailed on the northbound tracks near the Roosevelt Road station. Around 150 people were safely evacuated via the fire department's "snorkel basket" (who knew?), and no one was seriously hurt, but commuting is not going to be pretty tonight.

What Would Jesus Bomb?

Anybody else spot these anti-war posters mimicking T-Mobile's "Fave 5" campaign on the Red Line this weekend?

Valet Secrets

The Trib takes a look at valet parking. Apparently I've been undertipping for years.

Matt's Law Coalition

Following the recent sentencing of an Urbana woman who killed a cyclist while driving and downloading a ringtone to her cellphone, the parents of Matt Wilhelm the deceased, have started a coalition to lobby for a law and education to reduce distracted driving. Looks like that cellphone ban hasn't been working out too well.

Meeting the Faces Behind Moving Beyond Congestion

A reminder of something we've posted before: the CTA, Pace, and Metra have teamed up to request more money from the state for public transit infrastructure at movingbeyondcongestion.com. They've announced the public meetings where citizens can provide feedback on the effort; here's the calendar. (Note to CTA et al: It'd be nice to have at least one "community dialogue" at an evening time too, not just from 1 - 2 pm.)

"Woman" is Sentenced for Cyclist's Death

Jennifer Stark of Urbana kills a cyclist while downloading a ringtone on her phone while driving. She gets the maximum penalty... for improper lane usage! Six months probation, $1K fine and traffic school. Oh yeah, she has a myspace. A bizarre, tragic and ridiculous event.

Snow Day

While you were asleep, it snowed. Then it snowed again, and it's still snowing. The Illinois Department of Transportation has asked Chicago area residents to not get on the roads if it's not necessary. Many schools are closed and most flights from O'Hare are canceled. Stay home, Chicago, but if you cannot, the CTA and Metra are running mostly on time.

In December, Winter Parking Rules

Don't forget that as of 3am on December 1 (tonight), Chicago's Winter Parking rules go into effect. Some streets sport the complete ban on parking from 3am–7am Dec. 1–April 1, regardless of snowfall. Other streets let you park as long as there's less than 2 inches of snow on the ground, but if it snows enough, you can get in trouble any time of the day. Take care, check the snow-filled weather forecast, and move your sweet ride before the city does it for you.

Red Line Power Troubles

Attention there, Loop commuters. As of 3:51pm this afternoon, the CTA is alerting customers to a rather sticky problem with the northbound Red Line at the Jackson station which is rippling north. Northbound Red Line trains are (as of this posting) being rerouted onto the elevated structure between Roosevelt and Fullerton, with no additional shuttles running. The current Loop stops are as follows: Roosevelt, all stations along Wabash and Lake, Merchandise Mart, then trains will run express to Fullerton to resume regular northbound routing to Howard. Southbound Red Line service is not affected. [UPDATE: As of 5:24pm, Red Line Northbound service is running normally, but still expect some delays.]

Electric Train to Peotone

Should the proposed Peotone airport ever get built, Metra is ready to provide service.

Santa seats

Some shots of this year's CTA Holiday Train, courtesy of the Chicago blog Looper. Keep your eye on the "holidaytrain" tag on Flickr for more shots, and your other eye on the CTA's Holiday Train schedule to see when to catch the train.

It's No "I'd Rather Be Fishing"

But Chicago vehicle stickers are mandatory, so it's nice that you can have some say on what will adorn your windshield. "Green Scene Chicago" is the theme of Chicago's 2007-2008 sticker, and you can vote for your favorite of the student-designed contenders between 9 AM and 5 PM today at the City Clerk's web site.

Slow CTA trains: get used to it

The Sun-times reports that the CTA can't afford to fix the problems that create the slow spots on its train lines. CTA president Frank Kreusi puts the figure at fixing all of the problems at $500 million; as a comparison, the amount of money in next year's CTA budget for fixing some Red and Blue Line slow spots is a mere $35.7 million. So expect delays for several years.

BO, no A/C

Apparently the power to the CTA Red Line was shut off this morning, a move prompted by a defective Red Line train that had damaged about 100 feet of the third rail. The CTA Tattler has an eye-witness account that should give you some idea of what to be prepared for in the event of a shut-down train.

No More Street Sweeping Tickets

An organization called Smarter Government aims to fix the city's ills -- but first they might want to fix their website. Only two pages are available right now, but one is a pretty darn useful to cityfolk with cars: sign up here and get an email alert letting you know when the street sweepers are coming by, so you don't forget to move your car. (Thanks, Atul!)

But Where Has Dale Rivera Gone?

Each month, I look forward to another 30 minutes of CTA propaganda in the form of Connections. I say "propaganda," but that's tongue-in-cheek: the show has actually taught me a lot. It runs nightly on several municipal channels, but if you don't have cable or you want to watch it "on the move," download or stream it from podcastchicago.tv. [via]

Display Receipt on Dashboard

Here's a downside to those parking meter kiosks that are popping up around the city: Where do motorcyclists affix their receipt to prove they paid?

Sadie Hawkins Day Race

Sadie Hawkins is a fictional day from a L'il Abner strip. However, it is now also a bike race organized to encourage women of all kinds who ride bikes to come out and race for fun, as well as to benefit the Chicago Women's Health Center. There's a pre-race fashion party on Friday, Nov 10th in the Fulton Markets with the race happening on Nov 11th, followed with a post-party the same day. Want to race? Want to have fun? Check out the myspace.

Hollaback, Chicago!

The CTA Tattler alerts us to Hollaback Chicago, a new blog devoted to documenting women's stories of being harrassed on the streets (the blog was inspired by a similar site for NYC women).

The (Pumpkin) Orange Line

How else would railfan Tony Coppoletta say "Happy Halloween" but an 'L'-o-lantern?

Another Day, Another Google Maps Application

El and Metra lines overlaid on Google Maps. Sweet.

O'Hare to Get Jet Blue

Yesterday, discount airline Jet Blue announced that they will start flying out of O'Hare no later than January 2007. They've been trying to get into the airport since 2002, and now have FAA approval, but haven't yet announced destinations for their four daily flights. (At that time of year, I'm hoping that all their planes go someplace nice and warm.)

"For the Not-So-Safe Driver"

Looks like the Chicago Bike Federation has a new website for their Drive With Care campaign. At first, I thought it was real, but then I knew that any memorial like "The Brittany" had to be too good to be true. Well done, chaps.

Another Change in South Grant Park

It's almost time to say "goodbye" to the wooden bridge from the Roosevelt Metra station to Michigan Avenue. So break out your camera and sepia processing and take some old-time photographs this winter.

Washington Under Wraps

Rush hours in the Loop are gonna be a little tougher in a couple of weeks, as the Washington Red Line stop ceases operation in preparation for Block 37 Superstation construction. Starting October 23, there'll be no train access, and the Blue Line tunnel will also be closed (transfers will only be available at Jackson). The CTA says work is "expected" to finish in Fall 2008. For more details, see Tony Coppoletta's run-down on the shut-down.

Pileup in Grundy County

"The Midwest's Greasiest Hot Rod Show," the Hunnert Car Pileup, is this Saturday at the historic Grundy County Speedway and fairgrounds. Fast cars, fast women and fast music -- if you like traditional hot rods this is the show for you. (Thanks, Christian.)

Fullerton station renovations

The renovation of the Fullerton El stop, already pretty conspicuous with all the new construction next to the existing tracks, becomes even more inescapable for commuters this Sunday, as the CTA closes up the Fullerton stationhouse (and opens up a temporary station entrance) on Sunday. Although the station will still operate as usual throughout construction, the main station building will be closed for renovations through December of 2008, so this weekend might be a good time to take some pictures of the structure, just so you can do some before-and-after comparison in a couple of years (or whenever it really does reopen). More construction bulletins are available, as always, at the CTA site.

Ultimate Gapers Block

Eisenhower a bit slow for you this morning? A car rolled onto the CTA tracks between the Western and Cicero stops, leaving Blue line without power. No word on injuries yet.

Google Take On Chicago Bike Map

Want another cut on the Chicago Bike map? Try this google alternative.

Get in the "I Do" Lane

For a happier take on transit, we turn to today's Going Public column. You may have read the story about Joe Benarroch and Jason Fournier's love connection on the 146 on your own commute this morning. A surprised Fournier read it under different circumstances -- aloud over a breakfast with friends and family. The story's end is a sweet one: as the video captures, Bennaroch proposes, Fournier says yes. [Edit: The RedEye informs us Fournier remarks "this isn't a good picture" prior to reading the article; he does not comment on the paper as this item originally read. Apologies for the error.]

Outbound Express

Forget about Denny; let's talk about Kruesi. The editorial page at Crain's says "off with his head" -- more politely, of course. To wit: "An outsider with proven expertise in repairing broken transit systems must be brought in with authority to overhaul the CTA from top to bottom, both financially and operationally." Too right. [via]

It was a Bad Day

Capping off a day of North Side disruptions on the CTA, a woman was struck and killed by a Brown Line train at Wellington. Amid this morning's slow-moving chaos, a bemused customer offered the Trib a joking translation for the transit agency's acronym: "Certainly Takes Awhile."

CCM is tomorrow!

Bikes are fun! Find out exactly how fun they can be at tomorrow's Critical Mass Bicycle ride. It's free, and gets underway at 5:30 at Daley Plaza. The theme is likely to be "Oktoberfest", so lederhosen are highly encouraged!

Moving Beyond Congestion

The RTA (CTA, Pace, Metra) have announced a new effort to improve the lot of the region's commuters. Their new site, Moving Beyond Congestion, lays out the case for why additional transit is needed and what their plan is to make that happen.

What's in a Delay?

On Friday, Thrown for a Loop was hoping for an easy flight home. Because of bad weather at O'Hare, that didn't happen. Alas, nor did the alternatives...

CTA Closures Cancelled

If you'd planned your weekend around the CTA's scheduled closures of Brown Line stops at Kedzie and Rockwell, well, make other (other) plans. Due to forecasted heavy rains, the CTA's betting it won't be able to get its excavation work done at those stops this weekend. The stations will be open, and as a result, the free shuttle that was going to take passengers from Western to Kimball has also been cancelled.

CTA Sucks in So Many Ways

On a day that saw part of the Red Line shut down by an electical fire in the middle of rush hour, the Beachwood Reporter summarizes the city's general dissatisfaction with the CTA, line by line.

Walk, Bike, Ride, Go! - It's World Carfree Day

Who needs a car when you have public transport, a bike or a fine pair of working legs? Today is World Carfree Day. Folks in more than 600 cities across the globe will participate in getting where they need to be, without getting behind the wheel. Give it a try!

Seeing Red at 15 MPH

The last line of John Hilkevitch's column on the misery that is the Red Line these days is nothing if not an indictment of CTA management: "It was assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the CTA learned during its clumsily executed overhaul of the Green Line more than a decade ago that poor service begins the death spiral of plummeting ridership."

The Edens is the new Dan Ryan

Starting tonight, Edens Expressway users will now get a taste of what the Dan Ryan commuters have been going through, as work begins this evening on a concrete patching project on the Edens from Lawrence Avenue to Lake-Cook Road. The project, which will cause a series of weekend and overnight closures on the Edens, runs through mid-November, so start getting used to having only one lane open on the Edens on the weekend. (As a reprieve for Northwestern football fans, the closures will not be in effect when NU plays some home games in the next couple of months.)

Rise of the 100cc Machines

Ride a scooter? Or love someone who does? You best be headed to Slaughterhouse this weekend, then. The 12th annual running of the Vespas (and other scooters) is this Saturday, while a pre-party gets the ball rolling tonight at Liar's Club; details in Slowdown.

Bikes+Metra ≠ Bikes+South Shore Line

A Lincoln Park high school teacher has a lesson for you: Metra's bicycle regulations are more permissive than the South Shore Line's. He has a $150 taxi ride from South Bend to Lincoln Park to prove it.

Fly Like an Eagle into Where?

It may not be Meigs Field, but Howell-New Lenox Airport is the most recent casualty in the battle between development and area airports.

See Red on the Red? Say So

Sandra Gray is a master's student in urban planning and public administration at UIC. Her thesis project discusses CTA customer service, particularly on the Red Line. If you're a regular rider and have something to say (who doesn't?), she sure could use your help. Take her survey here.

Volunteer for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation

The CBF is looking for volunteers to help out with the 18th annual Boulevard Lakefront Tour on Sunday, September 10, 2006. You can help guide riders along the route, ride as a safety ambassador or feed hungry riders at our rest stops. Sign up today.

C. T. Art

CitizenShay's 'L' sign artwork -- details available at his website -- seems like it'd make a great gift for a transit enthusiast. Or for someone who just likes this fair city. (If the onscreen images aren't enough, see the work in person at Sacred Art, 2040 W. Roscoe Ave. Or at the Renegade Craft Fair next month. Options. So many options.)

Game the Travel Market

Farecast finally has predictions for ticket prices departing from O'Hare and Midway to major destinations around the country. The beta service predicts whether ticket prices are likely to rise or fall, and makes recommendations on whether to buy now or hold off on that round-trip to San Francisco.

The El station not on any CTA map

Today the Sun-Times checks up on the Chicago History Museum's exhibit of the first Chicago train car built for public transit (previously mentioned on GB in January, when the museum was moving the car from Skokie to its building). In addition to the car, built in 1892 for the Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Co., the museum will also have on display a replica of a late 19th century El train platform. The exhibit will be part of the museum's "City on the Make" exhibition, which will be seen by the public when the museum, completing a $27 million renovation, reopens on September 30.

Get Off at Bemont...

The CTA needs to hire a proofreader. When they updated the in-train maps of the system to reflect the Pink Line, lots of mistakes crept in. Such as the wrong phone number for the CTA help line, and typos like Bemont.

Station Open

Like any event these days, the reopening of two CTA stations couldn't go unFlickred, and indeed it hasn't: Phineas Jones covers Rockwell, and Tammy Green's got Kedzie.

Find a Spot to Park

ChicagoParkingMap.com maps all the private parking lots and garages downtown (from 1100 North to 2300 South). The Java is a bit clunky, but boy is it comprehensive.

West Side Chi-master Cycle

Ben Husmann saw this "thingy" on the platform of the Oak Park Green Line stop. No telling what it is, but he's right: it sure looks like a Matthew Barney sculpture.

GB LUVR

Now you can check out your vanity license plate ideas through the Secretary of State's Cyberdrive Illinois site. Just head on over to the "Pick A Plate" section, type in a prospective plate, and see if it's taken.

The Red Line High Club

Who needs an airplane lavatory when there's space between train cars? Today's CTA Tattler recounts a reader's almost-impossible to believe story of sex on the 'L'.

Running On Time

If it's seemed like CTA trains have been slow this summer, the good news is you're not imagining things. The bad news is, not only are you not imagining things, it's actually going to get worse. (If you've got something to say about these recent developments, Carole Brown's blog entry is probably a good place to do it.)

More Than Your Typical Gapers

Two semis apparently collided on the Northwest Tollway this morning, resulting in one overturned truck and a three-mile back-up during rush hour. Jon at the Reverse Commuter snapped some photos of the accident scene from his car in the midst of it all.

Best Name for a GLBT Scooter Gang Ever:

Hell's Fairies.

Know where the #20 Madison buses are at all times!

The CTA has rolled out a new Website for tracking buses called, not too surprisingly, CTA Bus Tracker. It only tracks the #20 Madison bus right now, but you can watch a street map updated in real time with the locations of various buses along the route. The Sun-Times reports that if this pilot program goes well, all other bus routes will get the same tracking ability in a few years.

The Journey is the Destination

If you're yearning for some travel (video), check out YouTube user Srovetz's atmospheric videos documenting his train and car travel throughout the country. There are too many Chicago related videos to post here, but some train segments include Kansas City to Chicago, Chicago to New Orleans, and Chicago to New York.

Oh, Good

It's the news you've either been waiting for or dreading: US Cellular customers can now use their phones on CTA trains travelling in subway tunnels. An added bonus for Verizon and Sprint customers: 911 calls for those companies' customers will also work underground.

Or There's the No. 155 Bus...

Ever walk through O'Hare and wonder what it's like to be on one of those planes bound for India instead of Indianapolis? The destination is surely more interesting, but do the ends justify the means? Ben Mutzabaugh of USA Today decided to find out, and he liveblogged the 15+ hours it takes for American Airlines Flight 292 to get from Chicago to Dehli.

Hop from Point A to Point B

This could come in handy, especially when you want to minimize your waiting-in-the-heat time: HopStop helps find the quickest route between one address and another on public transportation. [via] (Thanks, Jenni!) [Matt updates to add: Chicagoist isn't impressed, but it mapped my trip from home to work just fine. In other words: it's new; results may vary.]

R.A.M.B.L.E.

Friend of GB, scooterist, designer and vegan guide making extraordinaire, PJ Chmiel hits the open road on his scooter on a tour he calls the 2006 R.A.M.B.L.E. Ambitious in scope, it should be quite a ride. Follow along when he kicks off tomorrow.

Cars Left, Trucks Right

All about Illinois Tollway Oases. [via]

White Van Stealing Bikes In Loop?

The Chicago bicycling community is up in arms about a possible white van that is stealing bikes in the Loop. Craigslist's bikes section has a lot of the details. In the meantime, if you ride on two wheels, remember to use two U-Locks, not a cable lock, and if you can, register your bike with the Chicago Police. Mr. Bike also recommends putting your name and address in the seat-post tube since some unsophisticated thieves might not look there. Also, add stickers, duct tape, and other markings to make it distinctive and thus less attractive to thieves.

Tastypopsicle Maps 2.0

You may have used the CTA Google Map developed by Ed Knittel in the past. But, now that you can search by address, it's probably worth another look.

SLOW 25 MPH

The Oak Street Curve on the northbound side of Lake Shore Drive is a notorious accident spot, but people keep speeding into the curve and hitting the wall or each other. So the city is planning some new measures to alert drivers to slow down, including some optical illusion paint lines. The Trib has a nice graphic explaining the changes.

MDW = SWA

Been to Midway lately? Seem like Southwest has every gate in the airport? Well, they nearly do.

A Three (and a half) Hour Tour

Transit buff extraordinaire Tony Coppoletta is playing skipper to the "Soul of Chicago Express" next month: he, with help from Chicagoist, has chartered a private 'L' train to take passengers on a Sunday afternoon tour of five CTA rail stations. Interested in participating? See the site for details on registration.

Talk to Me

What, Carole Brown asks, can the CTA do better when it comes to communicating with customers?

I Go Zip

I-Go now has some competition in the car-sharing business: Zipcar. [via]

Midway says "Bienvenido" or "Willkommen" or...

Despite the recent uproar at foreign ownership of domestic ports, non-US firms seem poised to dominate the bidding for Midway. Subject, of course, to aldermanic approval.

Vesparate Measures

With gas prices so high, Vespas and other scooters have shot up in popularity. There's only one problem: the only Vespa dealership in Chicago has gone bankrupt. (Little tip for the guy in that article who needs a tune-up: Scooterworks.)

Bicyclist killed on Chicago Avenue

Manuel Tenecota, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was hit and killed by a CTA bus earlier today. He was just two blocks from his home. His death is the second bicycle-motorist fatality in as many weeks.

City to Stick You for $75 Now or $115 Later

Just a reminder to drivers (or, more accurately, parkers): if you haven't purchased your 2007 Chicago vehicle sticker, you've got but three days until the old one's expired and you become an outlaw-although you probably won't get ticketed until after July 15, the end of the official renewal period.

Cartopia 2006 photos

You know those cars with the crazy springs or dolls glued all over them? Well, reader Lotta writes in about her heading out to Cartopia 2006, held in Berwyn, last week where she took photos of all kinds of cars just like that.

The Tattler Redesigns

The CTA Tattler, Chicago's number one source for transit scuttlebut, has redesigned.

As of Today, Think Pink!

Recent changes on the CTA have the chicago_el LiveJournal community hopping with discussion: new announcements (including the initially jarring addition of the cross-street to some stations; no more "This is Grand," for example); new maps (subway lines are no longer indicated; rush period lines are); new phone service (yes, US Cellular now works underground); and, not new, but a useful reminder: no bikes on trains on July 3 (when the system carries its highest daily passenger load of the year). [More: today's "Pop Goes The World" picks five favorite films that feature the 'L'.]

Stop the Pervy Perp

A CTA Tattler reader has called for a sort of neighborhood watch on North Side Red Line runs, describing a public masturbator she and her roommate have encountered repeatedly. "If we all take care of each other," she says, "we can catch this guy and stop him before his exposure fails to excite him anymore and he has to go to further extremes."

File Under: Never Going to Happen

"Quiet cars" on the CTA. And I mean never.

Dry Runs on the Metra

I only recently learned that it's allowed (and depending on your traveling companions, encouraged) to drink alcohol on Metra trains. But it's worth noting, as my conductor did this morning, that Metra restricts carrying alcohol and/or glass bottles at night and on weekends during the big downtown festivals, including this weekend's Blues Fest. Here's the calendar of blackout dates (pun intended).

Keeping the McPark Tradition Alive

Just in time for Bike To Work Week next week, the Millenium Park Bike Station has been renamed the McDonald's Cycle Center. That doesn't mean the facility is any less handy than previously, but seriously, McDonald's?

Taking the West Side for a Ride

CTA Chair Carole Brown talks up soon-to-come enhancements to West Side transit options and shares a photo of the winners of the contest that will, in a matter of weeks, give us the Pink Line. More information, including a Polish language run-down of coming attractions, available at the CTA site.

A Hard Cell

Speaking of airports, designated "cell phone lots" opened at both Midway and O'Hare today. The idea is to ease congestion at the arrival gates by allowing drivers a free place to wait for a call once passengers have retrieved their luggage (whether this will work is anybody's guess).

Thinking about Riding to Work?

On 10 June, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation kicks off Bike to Work Week, to encourage more Chicagoans to commute on two wheels. If you haven't biked to work before, it's a great time to get started. Next Monday, CBF is offering a class for novices, and during Bike to Work Week CBF is hosting Bicycle Commuter Stations through Thursday morning, the 15th, with free refreshments and bike chain lubes. You can find out more here.

Department of HVAC Security

The CTA has posted a PDF version of a PowerPoint-ish presentation about its forthcoming 5000-series railstock. There are all sorts of details, but one of the more interesting (and possibly reassuring) is that operators will be able to shut down the ventilation system in response to, among other things, a "biological incident." [via]

"Jeez, that's a lot of cash"

Simon Garber, president of Chicago Carriage Cab Co., definitely wins this week's Good Boss award: he distributed $50 gift cards to all 637 cab drivers that work for his company. The gift cost Garber nearly $32,000.

Crosswalk in the Crosshairs

After the death of a very young pedestrian at the intersection of Belden Ave and Lincoln Park West this weekend, Eric Zorn features a proposal for improving safety for walkers and drivers. He also points to the website for America Walks, which has a number of affiliated groups if you're interested in (foot) traffic safety activism.

Bike Tour 2K6!

Friends and Chicagoans Andrea and Ira saved money for a year, resigned from their jobs and left for the open road a little over a week ago. On their bikes. They're riding around the country for a year. You can keep up to date and check up on them as they post on the road from the weblog. Earlier posts are informative — lots of information on prepping for such an adventure. I'm jealous too — they look insanely happy.

Chicagoland Bike News

Couple of quick bike-related items I just noticed: forums.bikechicago.info is a new site for Chicagoans to discuss cycling issues and a useful local outlet for discussion if you don't like mailing lists; Aspire To Inspire's Stephen Wagner is about to begin a trek around the world again on a bicycle, perhaps you'd like to make a donation to help him?

Where To Buy A Bike

Reader Marge Simpson (!) wrote to ask where to buy a used bike. As the weather has gotten nicer, it's a prescient question. I have a few recommendations...

If you're looking for an affordable bike for getting around, local charity Working Bikes on South Western is the place to go. You can get a decent bike for $50 if you don't mind it being a bit older. And if you want something nicer, I'd recommend Uptown Bikes in Uptown. It's a little more money, but they have new bikes as well and one of the best repair shops I've worked with. If you're looking for something closer to home (whereever that is), there's also a database of bike shops in Chicago at www.chicagobikeshops.info. Chime in with your own recommendations in Fuel.

Indulge Your Inner Civil Engineer

In 2001, the Center for Neighborhood Technology developed Transopoly, a boardgame-like tool for examining transportation and other needs in a community. They've recently created an online version of the game, in which you can allocate a $2 billion budget toward such things as building new train stations and bike paths.

Cheek By Jowled

As those who have ridden the metros in just about any of the world's other major cities know, the front-to-back seating on the 'L' is the exception to the longitudinal rule. But, with its new railstock order the CTA is embracing the industry standard, and, as this CTA Tattler poll and an accompanying post make clear, the change -- not scheduled to roll out for another few years -- has some people riled up.

Fullerton Bus, I Hate You

Ah, Spring. When the weather warms, the days grow longer, and the daily bus commuters finally snap.

Circular Thinking

GB alum Craig Berman, who's given a lot of thought to Chicago's transit system, went to one of the CTA's community meetings about the Circle Line and collected some thoughts regarding the several potential routes currently on the table.

Rights Of Way

With spring on the horizon and in the wake of a pretty unfortunate Critical Mass last Friday (some discussion of that here), it's as good a time as any to reacquaint yourself with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists in Chicago. If you get arrested on your headlightless, brakeless fixed-gear, don't come crying to me.

Buying A New Bike

The weather is getting nicer and Chicago will be filled with (even more) bicycles soon. If you're looking to purchase an old-school Schwinn or similar affordable ride, you might check out this post on Craigslist. If you can't make it, don't forget the good work that the volunteers of Working Bikes do as well, and they also sell vintage cycles. Don't want a used bike? This site has all of the bikeshops in Chicago, and feedback on what people think of the service.

Talking in Circles

Next week, the CTA is holding a series of public meetings to gather input on the proposed Circle Line. According to the news release, "The meetings are part of the Alternatives Analysis study — the first step in pursuing federal funding for major transit projects. The Alternatives Analysis study is designed to examine all the transit options available and determine a locally preferred alternative." The meetings are 6-8pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Watch the Trains with a Widget

If you've given up on receiving CTA Wireless Alerts, well, wirelessly, you can stay abreast of developments at your desktop with a Yahoo! widget. [via]

Mayo's Bike Day

Fellow cyclist and friend Mayonnaise (a moniker) is having a Bike Day at the loading dock of 800 N. Michigan Ave from 1 to 3:30PM this Friday (4/28). Stop by for a quick in n' out bike tune up. He's doing it out of the goodness of his heart but he'll have a mayo jar for any donations to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. [Apologies for the date mix-up!]

This Road Brought to You by _________

The city has begun circulating the initial documents bidders must submit as they compete for naming rights to various aspects of the Chicago Skyway, including the road itself, in an auction budgeted to raise $3M. According to an announcement by World Business Chicago, this represents "a unique historical opportunity for a prospective bidder to be the first corporation in the United States to own the naming rights to a major bridge and roadway." Doesn't quite have the same ring as being home to the first skyscraper, does it?

Tracking Transit

Speaking of getting from one place to another, Tony Coppoletta has just launched Chicago Transit Status, a site consolidating information about CTA outages, delays and more. It's just the trains right now, but there are plans to deliver bus information soon. He's looking for volunteers to help update the site; check the contact page to get in touch.

"I Love My Car"

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how the "Dan Ryan Dig" is affecting would-be drivers commuting into the city. The attachment some people have to their cars is a little frightening.

"Free" Bicycle, Anyone?

Chicago is one of around a dozen locations selected by Bicycling Magazine for its BikeTown USA promotion, which will give away 50 bicycles in each "BikeTown." Just fill out this form and pay special attention to the box that asks you to explain "how you would use a BikeTown bike to change your life." Of course, there are strings attached: if you win you'll have to sign a rather extensive release (pdf)...

Faster Flying

The planes won't actually go faster, but you may not have to arrive at the airport so darn early. The Transportation Security Administration is looking to add part-time luggage screeners at both Midway and O'Hare. The screeners, who would make for a larger work-force during peak times, could cut wait times substantially.

She's Still There

Speaking of our roadways, Eric Zorn checked in on Underpass Mary one year after the miraculous mineral stain appeared on Fullerton Avenue, and found she's mostly still intact and still receiving flowers.

Chester Cheetah Unwelcome on the Orange Line

Today, RedEye offers a reminder: a ticket to ride is not a ticket to eat. Rather, for CTA customer Matt Smith, it turned into a ticket for eating. Smith dug into his 65 cent bag of Cheetos after stepping on board a train and got smacked with an unappetizing $110 fine.

Lake Shore Runway?!

Taking "flight" on the streets of Chicago this summer: the LimoJet.

This is Run 5-7-5

Poets of transit
Inspired by the CTA
Have composed haiku

Red Line riders: take the bus today!

The Trib reports that there was a minor derailment on the Red Line tracks earlier this morning, and the CTA has cut power to the Red Line tracks between the Fullerton and North & Clybourn stops. There's an alert on the CTA Website that says they're rerouting southbound Red Line trains to the elevated tracks (i.e., the Brown/Purple Line route) and stopping at some downtown elevated stations (see the CTA site for a complete list of stops). Shuttle buses are also running between North & Clybourn and State & Lake. As always, expect delays on the trains. Update: trains are running as usual now, but you should still expect delays.

CTA in Hyper-reality

Apparently, this image of the Damen Blue Line station is not a photograph; rather, it's a "photo-realist painting" that took 2000 hours and 50 Photoshop files. Wow.

Pink is the New Line

The Pink Line has elicited strong opinions from Chicagoans on LiveJournal, NPR and lots of other forums. Sound off for yourself on today's Fuel.

Ryan and Cryin'

Can't the Dan Ryan Highway Reconstruction Project (which begins tonight) get a little love? Apparently not. "Our long, hot summer starts now," moans the Sun-Times, while the Trib decries cronyism at IDOT, and IDOT itself justs wants you to stay away from 90/94 altogether (especially you, Sox fans).

The Never-Ending Promotion

In an effort to lure displaced Dan Ryan drivers, the CTA has again extended the period during which Chicago Cards are available at no cost. Considering how often they run this promotion, the CTA ought to do away with the fee altogether and just be happy they're making interest on all the balances they hold in escrow. But, until they make it that easy, May 31st is the new deadline for fee-free switching to "the Go Lane." (In more sensible news, the agency's board approved a pilot program to offer passes to convention-goers, starting with the Gay Games in June.)

Think Pink (Line)

When the CTA asked Chicagoland area schoolchildren to nominate a color for the new West Side elevated train line, they should have known they'd get a pretty kid-friendly color. Pink was the winner, nominated by a K-8 student in an essay contest. The new line will run along the current Cermak branch of the Blue Line east and then connect via a current service track to the Green Line. Pink colored or not, the line change isn't without a little objection from West Side residents who'll lose some direct routes to UIC and to O'Hare.

Thou Shalt Not...

The Tattler's Ten Commandments for CTA riders.

CTA For Sale (Old Signs Anyway)

The CTA has donated a lot of their outdated signage to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. They're selling them to help raise money to fund this nifty museum in Union. This from the "Chicago" station seems cool, as do some of the system maps. (via ...pickhits...)

Gas Hike-a, No Like-a

It's getting warmer, which means you may be traveling more, which means, you can already see an increase in gas prices. Word on the street is that the price of gasoline is already up 13% in Chicagoland, and you can expect it to only go higher as we near the "busy summer travel season". Better tune up the bike and the CTA card now, folks.

Train Station Announcements

Micro Bits, a website dedicated to subway stations around the world, has a great page titled "Voices in the Deep," which compares station announcements in subways in dozens of international cities. According to the list, "in Kyoto, the subway plays beautiful guzheng (sort of an Asian violin) compositions for its door-closing tones," while Lisbon, Portugal, subway riders hear a "buzzing before the doors close." And in Chicago? "A very friendly, pre-recorded male voice is somewhat verbose and talks almost permanently to the passengers." Some city descriptions even include audio files. Check it out.

Where to Park

Who needs a Google map when you've got something as nice as this. Not sure where the nearest parking is? The Chicago Parking Network has you covered.

Megacheap

Via an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, meet Megabus.com, a transit service that gives Greyhound a run for its money by charging a buck a seat from Chicago to several Midwest destinations. The shuttles start running in a few weeks; with prices so low, how long they can keep running is anyone's guess.

Take Back The Streets

If leisurely cycling down Lake Shore Drive (that's the expressway, not the path) is your idea of a good time, registration for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's Bike The Drive (May 28) is currently open. (Check out some pictures of past years on Flickr.)

Rain delay for the CTA

As the CTA Tattler points out, this week Mother Nature did what aldermen and citizens could not -- temporarily put off Brown Line closings for this weekend only, due to rain in the forecast. The Kimball and Francisco Brown Line stops will stay open this weekend. Enjoy!

Are We Really Ads?

Despite their Jenny Holzer/Barbara Kruger-like quality, those new CTA turnstile wrappers were placed as ads, not art. I'd been curious, so I asked John Blunda of CBS Outdoor -- turns out they're promoting the soon-to-open McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.

Transit Union Votes to Strike

In a developing story, members of the CTA's union local voted last night in favor of striking by an overwhelming majority: 1,029 to 11. The union's president will meet with the CTA's management on Friday; things are already not looking good as Frank Kruesi disputes the union's right to call for a walk-out. The Tribune notes the CTA hasn't experienced a strike since March 1979 -- whether another will happen in 2006 remains to be seen.

Private Midway?

There's been some activity down in Springfield that points to Midway Airport being privatized by the city, much like the Skyway privatization in 2004. Does Dubai Ports World run airports?

Le Diner to the Pool

On the heels of the anagrammed Metra map, one for the CTA. Or should we say the CAT?

Update: Archana Siriam, stupid Hummers and other oddities

We've posted before about Archana Siriam and her unfortunate encounter with a Hummer. I recently discovered that I knew her peripherally and found out that she is recovering well and in good spirits but is unlikely to walk or get on a bike for about three months. Here are photos from one of her friends at the CBF news conference and an uplifting photo at the end of a bruised ndd beat up but smiling Archana. The driver of the Hummer is still unidentified and being sought after.

"Silver Line" Loses its Luster

Remember the Silver Line? Well, don't get to attached to it -- the name, that is. We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that its color might change, and, sure enough, the CTA has announced a Name the Line contest for local K-8 students. Children are invited to submit a color and an essay explaining their choice; the winner will receive a $1000 savings bond.

A Story Made for This Blog

Using the left-hand entrance ramps on the Kennedy downtown scares the bejeezus out of me. I'm always afraid someone's not going to be paying attention and nail me as I merge into fast lane traffic. It'll be a bit easier in the future, though: roadwork on that stretch of highway begins Monday, and the Monroe ramps — the shortest of the lot — will be closing for good.

Stop, Look, and Listen

Did you know that more than 160 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed in the Chicago metropolitan area every year? To find ways to combat hit-and-runs the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is teaming up with the Evanston Bicycle Club to have a news conference tomorrow morning at 8:30 am at the intersection of Sherman and Lake Street in Evanston (1450 Sherman Ave). Not only will there be "bigger picture" discussions related to traffic calming and tips on getting info on hit-and-runs to give to authorities, but there will also be requests to help track down a yellow Hummer H2 which seriously injured Archana Sriram at the intersection on February 16th.

I've ate thine huge

Inspired by London, Toronto and Amsterdam mass transit riders who have made up alternate maps of their cities' subway stops, local blogger Pete Anderson made up a map for two Metra lines where the station names are anagrams for the original names. This probably can't be done with the CTA map; what's an anagram for "63rd"?

Another Reason to Hate Hummers

Seen a yellow Hummer with damage to the front corner? If you do, flick them off, then call the cops: on Monday morning, Northwestern student Archana Sriram was hit while riding her bike to school by a yellow H2 that ran the light at Sherman and Lake in Evanston. The driver took off, while Sriram ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw, hip and leg. (Thanks, Mike)

Getting To Milwaukee

Handy link for to keep around when the weather gets better: the route map from Chicago to Milwaukee by bicycle. Of course, taking Amtrak isn't bad either, and is even better since they added a stop at the Milwaukee airport.

How Now Brown Line?

Monday marks not only Presidents' Day, but also the start of the Brown Line expansion project. The CTA will be closing various stops for a varying (and sometimes unknown) amount of time over the next year, starting with Kedzie and Rockwell. Riders will have to walk to the closest open stop or make other arrangements. Think riding the Red Line will keep you safe? Because of switching and track upgrades, riders will see an increase in delays at Fullerton and Belmont throughout the year (and probably until the project is completed in 2009). Raise your hand if you're super psyched!

Ride the Silver Bullet

No, not Coor's. The CTA has unveiled plans to turn the Cermak branch of the Blue Line into the Silver Line, though the color may change. The plans call for a new section of line called the Paulina Connector, which will run the new line up to the Green Line tracks. Here's the press release.

I Go, You Go, We all Go with I Go

You brag proudly about how you love not having a car. As your friends complain about scraping their car windows in the morning, you wave your transit card at them. But occasionally you want to go to the burbs or you just want to make a massive run on a grocery store. I-Go has been in Chicago for a while, but now they have a blog called Chicago Car Sharing. It's a great place to keep up on chicago transportation issues while keeping your carless pride. edited 2/16: I-Go doesn't permit pets unless they're in a carrier. Good news for the pet allergic, bad news for those with a Fluffy or Fido.

Task Unmanaged

The Mac nerds are all over this CTA Tattler post with its shots of the new Jackson station signage gone, well, off the rails, really. That Windows XP -- if it knows anything, it knows you need anti-virus software and/or a firewall. One or the other.

HB4907 AKA The Boub Bill

If you're involved with local Chicago cycling happenings, you may well be aware of Boub vs. Wayne and the disincentive that the Chicago Bicycle Federation and other parties have been trying to elminate. The good news is that the bill passed 6-4 in the Local Government committee but is now facing tough opposition from the City of Chicago (which started on the 9th of this month). While it may be a little late, it can't hurt to voice your concerns to the Mayor. See what you can do.

Crash Monday

On a day that has seen more than the usual amount of car crashes, IDOT has released its most recent list of dangerous intersections. Recent data shows the intersection of Higgins and Roselle in Hoffman Estates saw more crashes than anywhere else in the state in 2004. It seems malls and tollways are to blame.

So Fast, So Furious

Lake Shore Drive can be pretty dangerous, especially that cool curvy bit by Oak Street. The Trib's column about it (eerily timed on a morning with a pretty big crash on LSD at Irving Park Road) comes with a cool graphic [PDF] though. (Thanks, Dan!)

The first Chicago Ghost Bike

The Ghost Bike Project started last year as reminders and memorials to cyclists who had lost their lives tragically to drivers. The first Chicago Ghost Bike has been set up in memoriam of Isai Medina. Photos of the bike have appeared on Flickr taken by April Jacobs (here and here) and by Payton Chung, here. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide in mid-January. More photos from around the country of ghost bikes can be seen here.

Bottleneck and Neck

We tied with Los Angeles in the rankings of most expensive cities, but we've got them beat (narrowly) with only five of the nation's worst traffic bottlenecks (LA had six). Our worst: the Circle Interchange.

Buy now, ride later

There's a Metra fare increase scheduled to take effect next month (i.e., Wednesday). And although Metra officials would really like you not to, you can buy yourself some 10-ride tickets today and tomorrow even if you're not going to use them, because Metra tickets are good for 1 year after the sale date. For the full list of increased Metra fares see the Metra Website.

Wireless to the Dunes

Starting in April, you can be among the elite to test what may become the nation's first commuter rail wireless service on the South Shore line. The service will use the train line's existing fiber optics, and technology created for NASCAR drivers. Still, the zone will be limited to just seven miles of track for now, while the problem of maintaining a wireless connection at 80mph is worked out.

Three Years and Counting

Yes, the CTA Tattler confirms, train cars with longitudinal seating are still coming. Just not very quickly.

CTA L #1

The first car ever built for Chicago public transit (for the Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Co. in 1892) will be moved today from a CTA storage facility in Skokie to the Chicago Historical Society at Clark & North. In a moving project reminiscent of the 2004 move of the MSI's U-505 sub, the car will be slowly moved down Chicago streets, avoiding viaducts and overpasses, in a journey that should take at least 3 hours to complete. Once the car reaches its destination, it will be renovated and be put on display at the museum by late September.

F*****g Smoking Ban

Metra has suspended without pay a conductor on the line to Harvard, who added his own editorial to a warning that smoking would no longer be allowed on train platforms in the city. According to the Trib, "the conductor used a vulgar sexual epithet over the Metra train's public address system to describe the city officials who enacted the ordinance."

What's with Western?

Western Avenue as I've known it, is a pretty fast street — the wannabe hot rodders streak their cars up and down Western and you're left playing chicken even if you've got a walk sign. Isai Medina, a 50 year old cyclist was struck and killed in a seven car accident last week. You might remember Chris Saathof's tragedy on Western as well. Be careful on Western. There's just something about the avenue that's like some kind of imaginary line drawn in the sand...

Another sticker loophole closing

All you clever people out there who park your cars in garages and think you don't need a city sticker: the free parking's over! On Wednesday the City Council introduced an ordinance to require cars parked in garages to have stickers. However, the city is only allowed to investigate cars in garages that are open to the public, so all you car owners with private garages have been spared. For now, that is.

New Metra Schedules

The new Metra schedules are up, for those of you who metra. Highlights include some new trains to O'Hare in the morning and service to Elburn, aka The Land Past Geneva Somewhere (Thanks, Steve!).

CTA Accused of Discrimination

On Friday, Tiffany Chancellor was reported to have filed a lawsuit against the CTA because she was paying higher cash fares after unsuccessfully attempting to procure a Chicago Card. (Although recent fare changes were announced months prior to their implementation, presumably giving riders time to avoid the hikes, there's been an apparent rush on the cards; stores all over the city have experienced shortages.) Today, the Chicago Defender reports, the suit will likely be amended to a racial discrimination complaint.

Pols for Petrol

The Citgo/CTA controversy continues, as several local politicians held a press conference yesterday to question the transit agency's decision. For his part, Frank Kruesi has gone on record to explain why the CTA didn't move on the proposal; he says the fuel wouldn't be compatible with some buses and would generate increased emissions in others.

Chavez, Oil, and our CTA

One story we mentioned previously but that continues to make the rounds of many mailing lists is that the Venezuelan government offered cheap gas to the CTA if they gave away many free tickets to low-income riders. The CTA has reportedly turned down the offer. (And as someone has mentioned, it wouldn't matter much anyway - gas costs make up a small percentage of the CTA budget.)

Metra's Growing

The CTA is not the only one raising fares -- Metra's rates are going up in February as well. But Metra is quietly expanding too. In addition to allowing bicycles last summer, Metra is increasing service or adding new stations to three lines.

Express This

If you're one of those Metra to CTA commuters, you found out this morning that your express fare is no more. Instead of the buck you've been paying to go from Ogilvie and Union to the lake, now you're paying regular CTA fares. Thanks for keeping that under wraps in your fare chart, CTA.

Riding the CTA into 2006

If you're going out tomorrow night, know that the CTA is offering penny rides from 8pm until 6am on New Year's Day and some routes will see extended hours of service. Get it while you can; once 6 strikes, the new fare structure goes into effect (SaveChicagoTransit.com has an extensive rundown about that).

Citgo and the CTA

When it comes to those increased fares, the NewStandard offers one version of how they might have been avoided. (Thanks, Mitchell.)

Be Smart: Get a Smart Card

It's just a few days before the new CTA fare structure kicks in (happy 2006, Chicago!). If you rode it this morning, you probably saw this RedEye story that attempts to explain it all. If not, we can digest it for you in two words: Chicago Card. (Also, as pointed out in the chicago_el LiveJournal community, there seems to be an error in the article: although rail fares will increase a quarter for users of magnetic strip cards, they will still be able to transfer for $.25.)

Verify Your Flight Plan

If you're flying in the next couple days, you might want to check out the Chicago Airport System website. It provides flight information for O'Hare or Midway based on the same info as the arrival/departure screens in the terminals, and current parking conditions for both airports are listed right on the front page. (If you're a regular flyer, you might even want to sign up to receive parking status notifications on your cell.)

Rudolph the Red Line Operator

Today's the last day the CTA's Holiday Train will operate this year. There will be two southbound Red Line runs from Howard, one starting at 2pm and the other at 5:30, and two northbound trips from 95th, the first at 3:40 and the second at 7:05. Exact station-by-station itineraries are at transitchicago.com.

Enjoy the Silence (Or Not)

Much of New York's subway system runs underground, but some routes operate on elevated tracks not unlike Chicago's. As anyone who lives along CTA lines knows, the noise of the trains is a constant, if distracting, companion. Ironically, with the MTA transit strike continuing, some New Yorkers find themselves more distracted by the quiet. Which is just one more reason to hope Chicago's not faced with the "nuisance" of noise-free living any time soon.

Wrap and Fly

Here's something cool: You know how you're not supposed to bring wrapped presents through the security check at the airport? Well, between now and Friday, you can take advantage of free gift-wrapping services on the other side of the x-rays from 2pm to 5pm at O'Hare and noon to 4pm at Midway.

From Junk Were Ye Made...

Aww, you spent twenty minutes digging your car out of the snow last week? Get over it. The Tribune reports that, starting Monday, the Streets and Sanitation Department will start hauling away your lawn chairs, ladders, and other space savers. "The snowstorm we had is history," says the Department, and there you have it.

Santa Train Derailed!

The CTA Holiday Train derailed on the Brown/Purple line tracks just north of Sedgewick on Saturday night. Friend of GB Wendy McClure happened to be on the train, and took some pictures.

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

Starting next year, your booty will have a little more room on CTA and Pace buses. Both are are ordering wider seats for hundreds of buses, making our seats the widest in the country. The CTA and Pace are trying to couch the move in PC jargon, but face it--we're not just the city of Big Shoulders anymore.

Can You Hear Joan Cusack Now?

The CTA has announced that those wireless communication points in the Red and Blue Line subways weren't just for better emergency response, after all. Within a few months, you'll be able to tell who's a US Cellular customer; until other providers get on board, they'll be the only ones yapping away underground.

CTA: Cool Like Fonzie

CTA tattler reports that your favorite local transit authority dispatched this message via their wireless alert system Thursday night: "Due to airplane blocking 55th Street at Central, #55 reroute is WB: 55th -Cicero-Archer-55th - Central.EB:Reverse." Can nothing faze them?

New cab or old cab?

I didn't even realize that the Chicago taxi cabs had been redesigned recently, but apparently in 2001 the lights on top of the cab that indicate whether or not the cab is available were changed. A veteran driver took an informal survey of his riders, and found out that they nearly all thought that the pre-2001 design was easier to see. So now what does he do with this information? Well, now that Mayor Daley is interested in putting rooftop advertising on Chicago cabs, obviously the lights are going to have to be redesigned again, so why not return to a design that people prefer?

Atlanta gets busy

The annual competition of world's busiest airport is heating up this year between Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. O'Hare has had fewer flights flights this year, due to flight restrictions imposed by the FAA and rising fuel costs. O'Hare officials are hoping that December will pick up for Chicago; the holiday travel season is typically busier for O'Hare than it is for Hartsfield-Jackson. Check in at the end of the month to see if Chicago retains the title.

Sticker time!

Today is the day to vote for the next design of the city stickers that we'll all have to buy next year. See the finalists' designs here, and vote for your favorite by this afternoon at 5:00. The winning design will be seen on windshields citywide in 2006-07.

Isn't It About Time You Got the Card?

Given that the CTA's fare structure is shifting to favor use of Chicago Cards in January, it's probably only fair that they're giving the things away for free again. Starting today and running through the end of March, the $5 fee will be waived.

Share, Share Alike

First, there was I-GO; look soon for Zipcar. Today's Times has the story on emerging competition in the car-sharing market and the "free satellite radio, iPod connections and access to convertible Mini Coopers" that come with it.

Winter Parking Rules

Do you like to find your car still in the place it was last parked? Of course you do! Therefore, you might want to take note that the winter overnight parking rules take effect on Wednesday night at 3 a.m., unless you want to pay $150 for the tow and $50 for a possible additional ticket. Time to pull out those buckets, lawn chairs, and any other junk you have lying around that you can use for "spot saving"; the winter parking games are about to begin.

The Weekend Gets off to a Rough Start

We can all be thankful no one died in the collision of a Metra train with several cars last night: looking at the wreckage depicted in these photos, it almost seems a miracle.

"MOVE. NOW."

It's best not to mess with Mimi Smartypants. Or, at least, best not to mess with yourself while in her Red Line car. She's seen this kind of thing before, and she's not gonna put up with anymore nasty shenanigans.

New city motto: Expect delays

If you thought that the city had finished work on the Chicago Skyway at the end of last year, you're in for a surprise; work on the Skyway will continue for the next two years, as a series of viaduct repairs that had been postponed in 2003 are now scheduled to occur. Said one transit official after hearing of the new construction, "Didn't the city just rebuild the skyway?"

CTA fare increases for some

Today the CTA approved a 25-cent fare increase for riders paying cash, starting in January. The CTA will also stop giving transfers to people paying in cash. Time to get yourself a Chicago Card, and make sure it's always got money on it!

New Buses on the Way

ChicagoBus.org reports that the CTA today received its first New Flyer D40LF 1000 series, which may replace half of the current fleet. Twenty of the new buses will be diesel-electric hybrids. Here's a video (.avi) of the bus pulling away from this morning's press conference.

Help study the CTA

Tired of late-running buses, or buses that arrive in bunches? Take some action against the problem! The Campaign for Better Transit, a group of people trying to improve Chicago's public transportation, is starting a new study of the reliability of CTA buses. In 2004 the group released a study called The Late State of the Buses (PDF link) which documented the problems people have with the buses (late arrivals, bus bunching, etc.). This year's study will attempt to find out if there've been any improvements since the previous study. See this post at Chicago Indymedia for details on how to volunteer your time on the study to hold the CTA accountable for its problems.

The Reincarnation of 7L39

New York taxis never die, they just ship out for Chicago... Follow their journey in text and images in today's Times. (Bonus fun fact: when it comes to cabs, yellow in the Big Apple is different than yellow in the Big Shoulders.)

Fixie on the Radio (again)

While this was originally aired on WNYC's Studio 360, a radio piece produced by Jonathan Menjivar that features me waxing poetic about fixed gear bikes will air shortly on WBEZ's 848. If you miss it, I'm sure the archive will provide otherwise, listen in online.

Airport Parking Deck Status Dot Com

If you're the type who wants every. little. detail. planned when traveling, you'll be happy to know that the regional airport system is now posting information about parking availability on its website, FlyChicago.com. And there's no need to worry about things changing after you've left the comfort of your 'net connection. Nope, register to receive mobile alerts, and you're all set.

Something To Hold On To

Germophobes, take further note: the CTA won't introduce train cars with aisle-facing seats for another few years (assuming the plans are to schedule, at least), so you're probably not a rush hour straphanger just yet. But, once the switch happens, you may want to remember the TranStrap, which, if its makers are to be believed, "dramatically enhances the public transit experience" -- especially when you've forgotten your travel-size Purel. [via]

Bike to Work

If high oil prices are making you think about trading in your gas guzzler for a two-wheeler and cycling to the office, you might want to attend Wednesday's Chicagoland Bicycle Federation lunchtime roundtable on commuting by bike. Details in Slowdown.

I *heart* (bikes on) Metra forever

Cyclists who have been using Metra can now rejoice: the trial period is over and today's meeting resulted in bikes on Metra year-round. Cheers all round!

Lines of Communication

Timeline:
10/10: CTA Tattler posts an open letter to CTA management regarding lack of communication during outages.
10/16: The CTA responds.
10/17: The Tattler rebuts.
10/17: CTA board chair Carole Brown applauds the Tattler on her blog for "holding our feet to the fire."

Roll Up for the History Tour

Today was the Chicago-L.org tour we mentioned last month, but let's say you couldn't make it. While you won't be able to hear the attendant commentary, thanks to the interweb you can at least see the sights via this here Flickr photoset. Update: And another.

Sign of the Season

If you live or work within sight of a Chicago harbor, you may have noticed the sailboat population beginning to dwindle. Except for holders of "late leaver" permits (who can stay till November 15), boats need to leave their harbor moorings by October 15. Which makes for interesting viewing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, if you live or work within sight of a Chicago River drawbridge.

Counting Down

You can take your bike on Metra only till 30 October. If you want to be able to do so throughout the year, give Metra Chairman Philip A. Pagano a piece of your mind. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation recommends you send him a thank-you letter if you took your bike on Metra this summer, and ask that Bikes on Trains be reinstated year-round.

CTA Wants Your Quarter

The CTA announced 2006 budget recommendations which increase fares another quarter to $2 -- but only for people not using the Chicago Card. In related news, the CTA has beefed up security in response to the threat to New York's subway.

Elbow Grease on the Red Line

It's easy to complain about how bad certain CTA stations smell, but how many people are willing to go clean them up on a Saturday morning? The residents of Edgewater are tired of waiting for the CTA to fix up the Thorndale red line station, so they are taking matters into their own hands. From 9 to noon this Saturday, October 8th, they will be entering the station to clean, paint and fix up the North side stop themselves. If guerilla cleaning is not your thing, the Campaign for Better Transit also has a list of other ways you can take action.

This Trip Brought to You By Geico

With its station turnstile sponsorship scheme, the CTA takes another step toward plastering every available surface with advertisements.

Another Day, Another CTA Googlemap

But hey, this one shows the train lines in their appropriate color! Which is pretty cool. (Here's how he did it.)

Trains running again

The Trib reports that Red and Brown line trains are running again, after an early morning train derailment disrupted train service between Belmont and Fullerton. Purple Line service between Evanston and the Loop remains shut down.

Retouch Card

Ever wonder what the little messages that pop up on CTA turnstiles and bus fare meters mean? The Tribune did a little digging.

Stick it to the Gas Tank

I love my Prius. While everyone else complains about the high price of gas, I get to gloat about filling up only every 350-400 miles. And thanks to MPG Stick! I can boast a little more openly about my 50+ MPG average this summer.

Pedestrian Rally Against TMA

Many groups in Chicago such as Break The Gridlock and Logan Square Walks are organizing a demonstration downtown on Wednesday to protest Chicago's Traffic Management Authority (TMA) policy of ticketing pedestrians. You can see the flyer here, or read the Trib's article saying that yes, this is dumb. If you want to join the protest, it starts at 5pm at Daley Plaze on Wednesday.

Pilsen Critical Mass

Like the idea of Critical Mass but don't like the crowds? The Pilsen Critical Mass is a nice alternative with a smaller group. Plus, they usually go out to dinner afterwards so it's a nice way to meet other cyclists on the Near South Side. (If you can't make this one, it's always on the 2nd to last Friday of the month.)

Cross at the green

After tackling such menaces as people who drive in the passing lanes too long and people who talk on cell phones while driving, Chicago may tackle yet another menace to drivers: pedestrians who cross after the light has changed. The city is considering a crackdown on jaywalking during morning and evening rush hours in the downtown area. A fine has not been specified, but the all-purpose misdemeanor fine ranges from $25 to $500. So you'd better think twice (or at least check for nearby cops) before crossing the street against the light in the future.

Rock Island District Derails

Reuters reports that one person died and 76 were injured by the derailment of a Metra train this morning on the Rock Island District line. The Tribune has further coverage, while CBS2 has extensive footage. Rock Island service to and from Joliet was disrupted but is expected to resume its ordinary schedule by 2:30pm; Metra updates are available here. Those looking for information about passengers on train run 504, which was due into LaSalle St. at 8:45am, can call 311 (in Chicago) or 312/729-6100 (outside the city).

Know Your Transit

Chicago-L.org will be hosting its 7th annual tour of L stations next month, visiting various stations by old-school train cars and offering lectures on CTA architecture and history. Reservations are required and can be made via this form [PDF], which also provides the tentative itinerary. Experience past tours virtually here. Or, if you're not quite a trainspotter, but you're still mildly interested, check out the Loop Tour Train. It's touristy, but free, and it runs Saturdays through the end of September.

Get Your Kicks (By Bike) On Route 66?

Planning is beginning to create a bike trail across Illinois along famous Route 66. In places it will diverge, running through the town nearby rather than the road. This would be a great bonus for Illinois -- the flat countryside would be a great place for a historical bike trail. Not that there aren't already a lot of trails...

Cell phone ticketing no idle threat

After the city made it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving, over 800 tickets were issued to Chicago drivers for breaking this law in the first 6 weeks. So here's another friendly reminder: GET A HANDS-FREE DEVICE.

I Park Like an Idiot

When I saw this bumper sticker on SkinnyCorp's Threadless van a couple months ago, I didn't realize that they were the ones behind it. I'm tempted to pick up a pack.

Time For A Ride

Don't forget that today is Chicago Critical Mass. While it's technically just a bike ride, it's absolutely a ton of fun. 5:30 at Daley Plaza. Bring a bike and a smile.

Watch That Meter

Chicago police wrote 60,000 fewer parking tickets last year than in 2003, and numbers are down even further this year. It's a good thing the city raised the cost of a ticket, otherwise they'd be losing money. Still, you'd better keep your meter filled, your city stickers current -- the rest of the year is probably going to be tough on street parkers.

CTA Safety First

Late last week, Fuel asked whether you feel safe. Today, the Sun-Times profiles a key figure in Chicago's effort to make sure the answer's yes: meet the CTA's vice president of security and training, Pat Daly.

Petrol Prices Punish Us All

Just as Mayor Daley says he's "sympathetic" to cab drivers' request for a per-ride surcharge in a time of $3/gallon gas, rising fuel prices are hitting the CTA, as well. As discussed at their monthly board meeting yesterday, the Transit Authority could face $10mil in unexpected costs. Revenue from riders has risen recently, but not enough to off-set the uptick. As such, the possible fare increases and service cuts we thought we'd escaped for the year are creeping back into the conversation. In our Party Line email yesterday, Brian pondered the idea of staying put on any given Sunday; might not be too long before that starts seeming like the way to go. Or, rather, not go.

World's Most Beautiful Subway Stops

Since our humble elevated has usually been a great but not beautiful way to get from one part of town to another, I wasn't surprised to see that Chicago wasn't included in this list of beautiful transit stops. With all the money problems the CTA's been having of late, it's hard to realistically suggest that this might be one way to increase ridership: make it beautiful. More people might take the train if it were a pleasant aesthetic experience. Design matters, especially on subways.

Wireless alerts revisited

If you signed up for the unofficial CTA alert system, chances are you've encountered some frustrations. Earlier this week, Kevin O'Neil posted a few etiquette suggestions, but that hasn't stopped people from sending insipid texts like "OK." The beauty of the distributed messaging is also its potential downfall, so the CTA's apparent interest in the effort is encouraging. The Tattler reports SMS/e-mail alerts will be a topic of discussion at tomorrow's board meeting. If you have thoughts about the program and its potential, public testimony starts at 10am.

On Line for Cheap Gas

The shock I received while driving past my regular cheap gas station this morning almost made me wreck my car. Luckily, there are a few websites where you can search for cheap gas prices, and even report ones you discover around the state. Gas Buddy has a local component, Chicago Gas Prices, which covers the city, suburbs, and nearby towns. There's also a cool Google application we told you about last spring. Unfortunately for drivers, it looks like Chicago gas is still well above the new national average of $2.52 per gallon.

Slow Train to Chicago

Ever wonder why the El is so slow in some spots? Well, this PDF map won't exactly tell you why, but it will tell you where you can expect to crawl -- it shows all the slow zones on the CTA map. (Thanks, Tony)

Pork By The Truckload

So I'm sure you've heard that our Prez was in town yesterday to sign a mega-transportation bill. So if you're wondering "What improvements can I expect in the next 5 years from this?" scroll to the bottom of the article--there's a list of the projects by county. Damen/Elston/Fullerton underpass, 43rd St. pedestrian bridge, Milwaukee Ave. repaving, and river walk money are just a few Chicago projects that jump out at me.

CTA maps on shuffle

Say you've succumbed to the omnipresent Apple advertising on the El (or, perhaps more likely, you didn't need any convincing), and you, like everyone else on the Belmont platform, have that personal audio device known as the iPod. You know it can play more than music, but how often do you refer to its built-in address book? Well, assuming you've got one of the new-fangled variety that has a color display, iPod Subway Maps provides a functionality you might actually use. Install the site's CTA maps on your 'Pod and never forget which direction the Purple Line runs through the Loop again.

Transit by phone, part 2

As Anne mentions, there's the new mobile RTA planner, but another way to put your phone into action is evolving at the grassroots. CTA tattler readers have created an SMS alert group to disseminate information about service interruptions and other details of interest to transit riders. The system will be unofficial and rely on the input of users, but, as it grows, it seemingly has the potential to meet a real need in real-time.

Transit by Phone

The RTA has just released a site you can pull up on your internet-ready cell phone to help plan your trip in the Chicago area. Just type in the RTA Mobile website (www2.rtamobile.com) and you'll find a fairly familiar screen of options (time, day, starting and ending address) to fill in to figure out the best route. The problem is that, unlike the CTA's current online trip planner, you can't select from a set of popular destinations if you don't know the address of, say, Midway Airport or Navy Pier. There are plans for access to bus and train schedules through the RTA Mobile site in September, but until then, better start memorizing some addresses, or just call the RTA up at 836-7000.

Metra: We Didn't Get The Email

I actually was planning on writing a thank-you email to Metra today for the Bikes On Trains program - it's been a real benefit to my morning commute. Despite a $486 million dollar budget, Metra doesn't have an email address yet. Neither the Contact Metra page nor the commuter newsletter On The Bi-Level list an email address, even though the CTA and PACE pages do.

Bikers Get A Break

Lakeview hastens home tonight now that the horrid, law-busting, anarchist bikers will continue to rule the streets. Right. Sarcasm aside, the police have postponed the crackdown on bikers in Lakeview because... someone's on vacation.

CTA Note Quite For Sale

Carole Brown, a CTA executive who blogs, tells the other side of the story about the CTA and corporate sponsorship. Executive summary: yes, more ad revenue would be nice, but it's just an idea and only one of many many ideas under consideration. She throws her preferences into the fray in good humor too: Selsun Blue (less dandruff than any other line) Line. Nice to see a sense of humor poke out.

Chicago Card promotion ends soon

In an effort to boost usage, the CTA has lately waived the $5 purchase price for Chicago Cards. That was too good to last forever, and, indeed, tomorrow, July 31st, is the final day you can get either version of the card for free. Surf on over and sign up. Too late!

O'Hare Delays: the Problem & the Solution

Slate has an article by a UofC econ professor explaining why delays occur at major airports like O'Hare -- it's not just too many flights. In related news, the city's plans for O'Hare expansion got final environmental approval from the FAA yesterday.

Going nowhere fast

U of C economics professor Austan Goolsbee looks at the science behind traffic jams at the nation's busiest airports, and he offers a few tips on how to avoid delays at O'Hare. Sadly, having read through the alternatives Goolsbee lays out, I'm left with the impression that we hardly have any alternatives at all.

The challenges of safe transport

With New York introducing baggage checks on the MTA, the CTA tattler asked the obvious question: "Are we next?" The post sparked spirited debate among commenters, particularly about privacy in the face of screening. Slate explores that very topic in its latest "Explainer," noting a number of variables affect the legality of such an operation. Meanwhile, revelations that the man shot and killed by police yesterday in London's Underground had no terrorist connections can only underscore how difficult the problem of transit security really is.

Rules of the ride

We noted yesterday the city's plan to increase enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists. If writers to Eric Zorn are any indication, the issue has lots of people, ahem, exercised. Among Zorn's correspondents, the pro crackdown camp has been more vocal than those opposed, but what do you think? Join the discussion in Fuel.

Bikes Are Vehicles, Too

Consider yourself warned: the bike cops are out, and they're making sure bicyclists are aware that they're subject to the same traffic laws as cars -- with warnings for now, but in August they start ticketing. No more blowing off stop signs, at least when there's a cop nearby. Read more on the city's bike program webpage.

Right Turns Made Easier

The city is conducting a traffic experiment at Washington and State in August: there will be a new right turn signal to let more cars get around the corner before the wave of pedestrians closes the opportunity. If the test works, expect other corners to be similarly outfitted.

Transfer to the Orange, Brown and McDonald's line!

The CTA hired a consulting firm in March to analyze its operations, and to make suggestions on how to increase productivity and revenues. Among the suggestions that the consultants presented at a CTA board meeting yesterday: outsourcing real estate management; adding more ATMs to stations; and ... selling corporate sponsorship and possibly naming rights to El stations and lines. CTA Prez Frank Kreusi says that the ideas presented "need to be explored further", to see how much money they could generate. (And, hopefully, how many consumers would react negatively to having to ride a train line named after a corporation.)

Another day, another bomb threat

Life on the CTA has been a nightmare over the past few days, with the Trib reporting a bomb threat on the Purple Line during this afternoon's rush period. The incident follows a similar hoax on the Brown Line Sunday and an evacuation of the Red Line at Berwyn last Friday due to an unattended suitcase. There was also a Red Line stoppage yesterday, but it was apparently for reasons happier than potential acts of destruction: a passenger went into labor at Morse. Update: Or apparently not. As information trickles in, Kevin O'Neil has updated the post again. In contrast to the claims of one of his commenters, the Sun-Times has now reported that the Morse delay was in fact another threat, this time from an on-board passenger.

Local transit on alert

Following this morning's apparent terrorist attacks on the London transport grid, the Trib reports that the CTA and Metra are putting additional security in place. As always, riders are asked to contact appropriate staff or emergency services at 911 if they see any suspicious activity.

About those seats

A recent Fuel asked about gross things readers had seen on local transit. Today, the CTA Tattler follows up on who's to blame for one of the many complaints we heard: the El's replacement of molded plastic with upholstered seating.

Hands-free by Friday, or else!

Cell phone users, don't forget that this Friday a new city law goes into effect that forbids the use of the phones while driving, unless you're using a hands-free headset. (Use of the phone will cost you a $50 ticket, which goes up to $200 if you're using your phone during a traffic accident.) But, as the Sun-Times notes today, local stores have been running out of headsets, so you might want to start looking around today to get your headset by the end of the week.

CTA saved! (for now)

Although the situation has remained up in the air, Carole Brown announces "Great news!" in her blog. The RTA has voted to fund the roughly $55m shortfall in the CTA's budget, meaning that it can forgo service cuts, layoffs and fare increases in 2005.

Guess what?

According to the Sun-Times, the CTA may still cut service and increase fares on July 17, if Pace officials go ahead with their plan to take a portion of the cash that was meant for the CTA bailout. Gaaaaahhhhh. (tip from CTA Tattler, of course)

IDOT Is Watching... And Ticketing

IDOT has gotten a lot more strict about speeding in construction zones. Instead of putting up signs and the occasional police officer, IDOT is positioning vans equipped with cameras to catch speeders in construction zones. At $375 for the first ticket, and $1000 for the second, this is serious. And how long will it be before the hundreds of city cameras do the same? I hate speeding and the carnage of cars, but the proliferation of cameras is sorta spooky. Panopticon, here we come.

New RTA Chair: CTA's Got Problems

The Regional Transporation Authority has a new board chairman, James R. Reilly, and he says the problems at the CTA are real. That's a relief. In the meantime, Peter Davidson wonders if turning some lanes on the Kennedy into premium toll lanes might be a way to help fund the El. (Thanks, spindlechuck.)

Be A Hero

This week is Bike To Work Week in Chicago. The CBF has info on how to join the masses who are biking to work. And if you're not sure which way to go, the city has the bike map online, or you can pick up a copy for free at most libraries or Bank One.

No CTA cuts ... THIS year

The CTA is committed to not making any service cuts this year (gee, thanks, CTA!), but won't make any promises about next year. So tune in next year for another round of dire predictions of service cuts unless the CTA gets funding, etc. etc. etc., ad infinitum.... (Tip from CTA Tattler, who adds "Bring me the head of Frank Kreusi.")

Membership has its privileges

You CTA commuters who have already invested in a Chicago Card will no doubt be thrilled to learn that the CTA has introduced express lanes for Chicago Card users on 10 bus lines and 8 train stations. See the story for the full list of routes and stations with the new "Go Lane" entrances. (And for those commuters without a Chicago Card, the CTA is waiving the $5 purchase fee for the card through July 31, to encourage people to get cards.)

Not just here -- everywhere

We all know the CTA's in a bind. As the Christian Science Monitor makes clear, though, it isn't alone. Across the country, cities like D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco have seen the same ultimatum: fare hikes or service cuts. And, according to William Millar, president of the American Public Transit Association, while either option is apt "to make riders leave," the combination can be disastrous. So that's good.

CTA losing money in new and different ways

This is just not turning out to be the CTA's year. Despite an increase in ridership, the CTA continues to lose money, and is using that as further incentive for a bailout from state legislators (a move that the state is still looking into, as it schedules an audit of CTA books to make sure that the CTA really is $55 million in the red). Meanwhile, some of the CTA's smart cards are giving free rides to customers (over $4,000 in uncollected fares so far), and the CTA's retirement fund is set to run dry as early as next year.

United We Fall

In the wake of the latest development in beleagured United Airlines' bankruptcy restructuring, The New York Times wonders, briefly, if it would be such a bad thing just to let the airline fail. Its 61,000 employees might have something to say about that. In the Trib, meanwhile, Jon Hilkevitch worries about the fate of the United archives.

Expect delays

The start of the CTA's Brown Line expansion project could be delayed even further, as the Sun-Times reports that the CTA has purchased less than half of the properties it needs for station improvements. The paper's report also includes a list of dates that each station would be worked on, which range from this August (for the Belmont and Fullerton stops) through 2007 (for the Paulina and Wellington stops). Oh, and don't forget the service cutbacks, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 17. Happy commuting!

Hang up and drive, part 2

The recently proposed ban on hand-held cell phone usage while driving was passed today by the City Council. It goes into effect July 1.

But it's only 2.42 days a year!

According to the latest national Urban Mobility Study, Chicago ranked 7th in one of those contests no one wants to win: annual traffic delays. Based on 2003 figures, local drivers spent 58 hours in gridlock during peak travel times, which is three hours more than in 2002. If that sounds high, count your blessings you don't live in LA, where you'd have waited in traffic for 93 hours. Of course, if the proposed CTA cuts go through in a few months, I hate to imagine what our roads will be like. Given that the study's authors, the Texas Transportation Institute, estimate Chicago's road congestion cost a cool $4.3 billion in wasted time and fuel, one might think that the Legislature's coughing up a few extra bucks for transit would be money well-spent. Or not?

Imagine how much the CAR costs!

How high of a commodity is downtown parking? Well, last night 23 parking spots were auctioned off, and the total amount of cash raked in was.... $750,000. Gaaah. Guess we better stick to the CTA, right? Oh, wait...

CTA questions answered

The great Chicago transportation blog CTA Tattler has an anonymous contact inside the CTA, and is starting to field questions from its readers for this CTA insider to answer. Today's question: what "waiting for signals ahead" really means. If you've got a burning question that only a CTA insider can answer, check this site out.

Ask Carole

Tony of SaveChicagoTransit.com points out that CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown has created a blog to "answer some of the questions people have been asking about the CTA's funding situation. We on the board have asked many of these same questions, and we want to help get the word out." She includes an email address where you can direct questions and comments.

Save the CTA

SaveChicagoTransit is a new site providing information about the current CTA budget crisis -- which will help you bone up for the Rally for New Transit Priorities and Funding taking place today at 3pm at City Hall, corner of Clark and Randolph. Bring your bullhorn. (Thanks, Matt and Leah.)

Google Maps Hack

Adrian Holovaty has created a snazzy trick for Chicagoans using GoogleMaps -- provided you use Firefox. It changes the map of the city from Google's map to the CTA version. Don't let the scary techie stuff scare you, it's really easy to implement. (Thanks again, Matt!)

Car Blog Geekout

I have a friend who can identify a car by sound -- the purr of the engine, the growl of the muffler. He'd no doubt enjoy Chicago Car News, a relatively new blog about automobiles. (And did you know the author of Autoblog is local?)

Welcome to Doomsday

Crain's Business reports that the CTA board today voted to slash service and raise fares, unless they get a $55 million cash bailout from state lawmakers in the next few months. Check the article for the gory details, which include severe crowding and doubled delays for rush hour commuters, a 68% increase in average wait times for all services and the elimination of over 50 bus routes and the Purple Line train from Evanston. (Thanks to CTA Tattler for the tip.)

Ride Share

The group behind the Chicago Area Transportation Study has launched ShareTheDrive.org, a site where interested parties can find a carpool. The goal is to help reduce traffic congestion by reducing the number of single-passenger vehicles on the road.

Boo!

It's been a busy and stressful week for the CTA. At a public meeting to try and drum up support for their doomsday plans to deal with budget shortfalls, the audience booed each of the plans and instead called for CTA officials to cut their own pay.

Meanwhile, Mayor Daley said on Wednesday that he doesn't care about a Chicago casino; he just wants funding for education and the CTA, and did not rule out increasing the region-wide sales tax to get it. And Alderman Eugene Schulter and state rep John Fritchey, not wanting to rely on funding just from the state budget, are going to be asking Illinois' two US senators for federal funding for the Brown Line reconstruction, so that the CTA won't have to temporarily shut down stations during construction. Oh, it's going to be a long hot summer for CTA riders.

CTA Board Meeting

Today the CTA Board will hold a meeting to discuss the upcoming proposed service cuts and fare increases. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at CTA offices, 567 W. Lake St., at 4pm. If you can't make the meeting you can submit your comments through Friday via email at ctaboard[at]transitchicago.com. Reader Sarah Southcott also offers to compile letters and notes for those unable to attend. Email them to her at southie[at]gmail.com and include your full name, address and phone number so she can try to make those opinions heard.

Hang up and drive

The city is moving closer to a ban on cell phone usage by drivers. Drivers would be permitted to use hands-free devices, and would be allowed to use handhelds while parked or while calling 911, but use of a regular cell phone while driving would cost a $50 ticket ($200 if an accident is caused by a cell-phone-using driver). Not surprisingly, cellular service providers Sprint and Verizon Wireless objected to the plan, saying the city should enforce reckless driving laws instead of cell phone bans.

Google Finds You a Cab

This is almost too cool to be real: Google is working on a project called Ride Finder, which shows you the real-time location of taxis in the city. Check the map and see whether there's a cab nearby, then call the provided dispatch number to bring it to your door. There are only three cab companies participating right now, but that should change quickly. (Thanks, Atul!)

Alderman cracks down on illegal Cubs parking

As a former resident of Wrigleyville, I was gladdened to see that Tom Tunney is looking into the problem of Cubs fans illegally buying residential parking permit stickers so that they can park on the streets during night games. The parking over there is bad enough as it is!

Get on the Bus

The CTA's train system gets plenty of attention online, via Chicago-L.org, This Is Grand, the CTA Tattler, etc. Meanwhile, the CTA buses have been ignored. Well, not anymore: ChicagoBus.org is your new one-stop site for all things bus. You may be particularly interested in the multimedia page, containing .wav files of your favorite announcements.

Traffic Snarls

The highways got even more congested than normal this morning thanks to several accidents happening at once. On the Kennedy, four cars, a semi and a bus collided, closing three inbound lanes for hours; another crash brought power lines down onto the Indiana Tollway and halted South Shore Line service; and reader Jeremy wrote in to report a semi got stuck under the Metra tracks near Damen and Webster on the Dan Ryan, gumming up traffic in that area -- Chicagoist says the semi's load of Spam and canned mushrooms was spilled all over the road. Not to mention the nice weather bringing on the start of Construction Season... hope you got to work on time.

Cap the Ike

Could the Chicago area get its own version of The Big Dig? While the expressway wouldn't go underwater, a panel is studying the fesability of capping the Ike between Harlem and Austin. The new land would be used for parks, buildings, and - I'm guessing here - at least one Starbucks. Three variations of the plan are shown in map form (1, 2, 3.) This all may be several years off, but seeing more green is something to look forward to.

The future of traffic control

On Monday, Mayor Daley unveiled his plan for Chicago traffic control, which contains such items as self-adjusting traffic lights, carpool lanes for streets leading to and from expressways, and tow trucks dispatched within minutes to remove disabled vehicles and delivery trucks that are blocking lanes. Before you get your hopes up, though, the article says that this plan hinges on installing cameras and sensors at 2,800 intersections in the city, a plan which could cost $200-700 million and could take anywhere from 15 to 50 years for complete installation. Some of the less costly changes, such as the fast-tow program and ticketing of vehicles using bus lanes, will be implemented later this year.

A Better Summer For Biking

According to the Tribune, Metra has bowed to the pressure of the Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and has agreed to allow bicycles on Metra during non-rush periods. Reverse commuters (like me) have special cause to celebrate, since we can take our bikes on the train during rush hour.

CTA yet again warns of looming budget cuts

No, they really mean it this time: today the CTA unveiled five new plans to cover budget shortfalls, if they don't get the funding they've been requesting from state legislators. And the plans are terrifying; rush-hour fares of $3 and up, increased waiting time between trains and buses, and the elimination of many bus routes and weekend and overnight service are but some of the details that the CTA listed to try and get politicians to act on funding requests. The CTA is planning to start cutting service on July 1, so this might be a very bad summer for commuters. Stay tuned...

Local boy makes good

Congrats to Chicago's very own Steve Fossett, who just touched down in Salina, Kansas, becoming the first person to fly solo around the world without stopping or refueling. We always knew he'd make something of himself someday....

CTA Brown Line customers see red

The CTA held a public meeting last night to talk about the station closings during the Brown Line expansion. The Tribune reports that more than 400 people showed up to the meeting, many of whom blasted the CTA for waiting so long before announcing budget cuts in the project that necessitate temporary closings of stations during construction. Among the people there was Chicago blogger Leah Jones, who has posted her summary of the meeting. (Thanks as always to CTA Tattler for the tip.)

More CTA Expansion Plans

Contributor Craig Berman isn't the only person working on plans to expand the El into a network. Here's another expanded CTA map.

Pedway Love

The Tribune ran a story about the pedway yesterday, which included a nice map of the various public passageways throughout the Loop. Our resident librarian Alice Maggio gave a guided tour (part one, part two) of the main burrow almost exactly a year ago. (Oh, and here's another pedway map, for those who want to explore.)

February Critical Mass

Some neat pictures of this month's Critical Mass in black and white.

Today in Bicycle News

A few bicycle items of interest. As usual on the last Friday of the month, today is the Chicago Critical Mass ride. Gather at 5:30 in front of the Picasso. Bikers today will have a small victory to celebrate, as HB467 - Lt. Gov Quinn's initiative to require Metra to allow bicycles on trains at least during non-rush periods - passed unaminously and moves to the Senate. And finally, if you have any cute pictures of yourself as a youngster on a bicycle, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation wants 'em! They're looking for pictures of you on your first bike.

New CTA buses are driving around town

Pay attention the next time you board a CTA bus. Does the seating arrangement look different? The CTA is currently testing buses with aisle-facing seats, to make passenger boarding easier, on two downtown routes. The new buses are based on a redesign that was originally for the L trains, but the CTA is also testing the seat configuration on buses, to see if that improves passengers' bus-riding experience.

Real-Time Pace Bus Times

Pace, the suburban bus transit system, has implemented a real-time system named WebWatch were you can check to see when the next bus on your route is going to appear. The schedules on the site are updated with information from the bus as it is traveling, so if the bus will be early or late, you'll easily be able to check. Supposedly a similar system is in the works for the CTA...

Smart Urban Vehicle

Bicycle owners protested at the Chicago Auto Show on Saturday. Of course there are pictures online. (found via Metafilter)

The $15 El Ride

Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that the CTA is about to open bids on a new "premium" express train line from the Loop to O'Hare and Midway. Premium is right -- it'll cost an estimated $15 one way. But you'll get from here to there in about 20 minutes, and at that price there probably won't be too many vagrants sleeping in the seats.

Brown Line renovation project meeting

Thanks to CTA Tattler for pointing out that the CTA is holding a public meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 to discuss the Brown Line renovation project, focusing on the work planned for the Belmont and Fullerton train stops. If you're going to be affected by the closures, this might be a good time to make your opinions on the subject heard. See the CTA site for full details.

DOT: Better Living Without Amtrak, Part II

According to my sources, DOT Secretary Mineta was late today for his meeting to discuss the end of Amtrak... because he was stuck in traffic. And why is no more Amtrak is going to be good for us? Well those silly Amtrak trains won't get in the way of the commuter trains of course! Mind you he didn't actually meet with the public, he just met behind closed doors and ignored the 100 or so protesters, according to my sources who were there.

DOT: Better Living Without Amtrak

Word on the street is that Dept. of Transportation Secretary Mineta is going to be at Union Station tomorrow at 10am to explain how eliminating Amtrak is going to be great, just totally great.

Suicide by El Train

The CTA Tattler has an eye-witness account of a suicide at the Loyola Red Line stop last night. Chilling.

Cars As Far As the Eye Can See

The Chicago Auto Show is only a couple days away, and the articles are starting to come out. You can even follow along as AutoBlog blogs the whole thing.

CTA news: More riders, fewer services

The CTA reported an increase in ridership in 2004. There were a total of 444.5 million rides last year, up slightly from 2003. This increase in ridership, of course, hasn't deterred the CTA from their plans to close Brown Line stations during construction or to prepare an emergency plan that calls for massive service cuts and fare increases, if they finally get the long-promised funding from the Illinois General Assembly. Oh, and starting Friday, Red Line riders won't be able to get out at the Lake Street station on weeknights or weekends; it's being closed for construction.

Chicago Drivers, Beware

We all know what people say about Chicago drivers. Well, those ever-industrious gents over at SkinnyCorp have a new meme / business venture / public service they'd like to share. I Park Like An Idiot provides bumper stickers that you are NOT supposed to put on offending vehicles. No, really. [via YH]

Which would you prefer: cellphone reception, or better CTA service?

The Tribune's transportation reporter, Jon Hilkevitch, published a righteous rant today about the CTA's continued pouring of money into a project to provide cellphone reception for train riders underground, at a time when CTA officials are talking of serious cash shortfalls and closing train stations during Brown Line construction. (Thanks to CTA Tattler for the tip.)

O'Hare in 2004: not so good

O'Hare ended up with the worst record for on-time arrivals and departures in 2004, when compared to the nation's 31 busiest airports. 30 percent of arrivals and 73 precent of departures were late into/out of O'Hare. There is hope, though; the FAA is making O'Hare cut flights back on peak arrival times, in the hopes of easing congestion. The reductions went into effect last November, and December did see a bit of an improvement (66 percent of flights were on time, up from 60 percent in December 2003). And in case you were wondering about Chicago's other airport, Midway fared a bit better in the rankings; it was ranked 17th, with only 21 percent of its inbound flights and 22 percent of its outbound flights delayed. Something to keep in mind next time you're booking a flight.

Critical mass for bikes-on-Metra-trains bill

In the Illinois General Assembly is a new bill that would allow bike riders to take their bikes onto Metra trains during off-peak hours and weekends. For their part, Metra officials are saying that making provisions for bikes would cut into the seating capacities of their trains, and are hoping to work with the bill sponsors and local bike organizations for a compromise.

It's official: Brown Line closings during construction

Late-breaking news at the Tribune Website: the CTA has officially announced that 15 Brown Line stations will be closed anywhere from six weekends up to a full year during renovation of the stations starting after September. Criticism of the CTA's announcement came quickly; Alderman Gene Schulter and State Rep. John Fritchey said that the CTA "dropped the ball" when they failed to consult with city officials until only recently.

Red Line fire on the tracks

A fire in the Red Line subway south of North & Clybourn caused an evacuation of a train late last night. On the scene (and on the train) was none other than CTA enthusiast Tony Coppoletta, whose collection of CTA Stuff we pointed you to just a few days ago. Read his account of the evacuation in the Chicago El community at LiveJournal. (Thanks, Matt!)

Trainspotting

More for the public transportation buffs: this CTA Roster site has photos of the different trains and busses used by the CTA, listed by model and year, as well as a few streetcars.

Reducing traffic jams by computer

Last September, GB mentioned that Chicagoans spend an average of 56 hours per year stuck in traffic. Well, Mayor Daley is in LA this week, learning about computer technology to automatically adjust traffic lights to ease traffic back-ups.

LA has seen road delays reduced by as much as 30 to 40%, and Daley is hoping for similar improvements with a Chicago computer system modelled on the one in LA. The bad news: such a system would be an expensive process that could take years to implement, according to the Traffic Management Authority. So for the time being, you're still stuck with the crappy commute times.

Taxi drivers planning radio strike

Angered at the city's stalling on a taxi fare increase (the Chicago cab rates haven't increased since November 2000, while gas prices and insurance rates have gone up), a group of cab drivers is planning to call for a one-week job action by drivers in March, during which they would not respond to radio calls. Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes counters that the rate hike that cabbies are asking for is too high. There's a City Council meeting coming up on February 9th, at which Alderman Tom Allen says he hopes to have "something together". It might be a good time to reacquaint yourself with CTA bus schedules....

CTA Geek Out

Tony Coppoletta's online collection of CTA Stuff will bring warmth to the heart of any transit nerd. He has photos from station tours, a huge set of WAV recordings of the CTA Voice from the el and buses, and a collection of scans of farecard designs from tokens to the ChicagoCard.

CTA crime up, citywide crime down

Protect your valuables when you're on the train or bus! Crime on the CTA increased last year, while overall crime in the city decreased. CTA boss Frank Kreusi said the increase was just a "blip," and noted that CTA crime has fallen 32% since 1997. Still, commuters should watch out for theft on the CTA, especially pickpockets working in the downtown train stations. The stations with the highest theft rates: State and Lake; Clark and Lake; and State and Chicago.

Brown line closures will hit businesses hard

The Sun-Times reports today on a consequence of the threatened Brown Line station closures that I didn't even think of until they pointed it out: businesses near the closed stations will be hit hard by the loss of the majority of their commuting customers.

Update: Bikes On Metra

As this map shows, Chicago is waaay behind the rest of the country in allowing bicycles on trains. The Lt. Governor's Office has started an online petition to force Metra to allow bikes on trains during "non-rush and weekends". Finally. Sign-up today!

CTA threatens wider cuts

The CTA continues its dire threats/predictions on what will happen to service if state lawmakers don't come through with increased subsidies for mass transit. According to the Tribune, the CTA is toying with such lovely options as: increased fares for people who pay with cash; increased rush-hour fares; different fares on buses and trains; and a 40% cut in service (up from the 20% cut threatened last year by the CTA). Meanwhile, the Sun-Times has some stark figures on the proposed Brown Line closings mentioned yesterday. The line's stations may be closed during construction anywhere between 4-6 months and 10-12 months. Oh, it's not going to be a happy year for commuters.

Brown line stops closing for construction?

The CTA, facing skyrocketing costs for its Brown Line renovation project, is considering temporarily closing some stops on the line as construction affects them. The cost of working on a train station while keeping it open is apparently too prohibitive, and the CTA warns that, without closing stations, construction costs would use up funds needed for other CTA amenities, such as bike racks and escalators. Says 32nd Ward Alderman Ted Matlak, "If they close the Paulina stop, we'll be picketing. Where's [CTA President Frank] Kruesi's house?"

Car dealers can really be pricks

On that freshly launched Cartype, Carlos Segura posts an interesting story about trying to test drive (and perhaps buy) a Ford Mustang. Because I absolutely hate when businesses are complete pricks, let it be known that North Ridge Ford and especially TV-ad-saturated Al Piemonte Ford fall in those categories. At least if you're trying to buy a Mustang. Tsk, tsk.

Segura Launches Cartype

Chicago-based designer Carlos Segura, the man behind T.26 Digital Type Foundry and custom CD house 5inch, has just completed another project entitled Cartype. Labeled as a "personal collection of images, comments, links, information and general interest related to cars and motorcycles," this is a well-executed, comprehensive resource for the vehicle aficionado. Now, if he could just make these appear in the US sooner, we'd be all set. [via Signal vs. Noise]

Bikes on Metra?

Heard at the rumor mill: Lt. Governor Pat Quinn is expected to announce legislation to require Metra to allow bicycles on trains on Thursday.

Winterize Your Car

In the spirit of better late than never, check out these tips from AAA Chicago for winterizing your car. Among other things, they advise you "keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent frozen fuel lines and to allow you to drive an alternate route to safety or run your car's heater if you get stranded."

When bikes ruled Chicago

The Tribune posted a nice slice of history concerning Chicago's ever-growing love affair with cycling. It's a nice read for those interested in bikes, but also a love letter to Chicago's strong cycling past.

Feeder Ramp

I'm not sure it does much good for people actually on the roads, but you can now get an RSS feed of current traffic conditions from Traffic Pulse, which has a pretty good visual traffic map, too.

Making Cents

The CTA has announced that it will indeed be offering its "Penny Rides" this New Year's Eve, and has extended hours on some trains and buses. It's quite the community gift, given the CTA's notoriously bad financial situation. Catch a ride on the CTA for just $.01 from 8 p.m. Friday night until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Just do everyone a favor and try not to boot in the train.

Tolls Rise Skyway-ward

You knew this was going to happen: The new owners of the Skyway are raising tolls. Starting February 16, you'll pay $2.50 to the trolls under the bridge, instead of an even $2. At least they're waiting till after the holidays.

5th Annual Santa Cycle Rampage

Every year, in cities around the world (and even Antartica), people dress up like Santa, get drunk, and hold a Santa Rampage. Last weekend saw one such event, and this weekend the kind people at Bike Winter are hosting another. The 5th Annual Chicago Santa Cycle Rampage meets on Saturday at the Twisted Spoke to get started. I think it's one holiday tradition we can all get behind.

CTA service cuts experiencing a delay

It's official: the CTA board voted to delay service cuts and layoffs which were set to go into effect at the beginning of the new year. The board voted unanimously to delay these cost-cutting measures until July 1, encouraged by promises from Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and Governor Blagojevich. So now it's up to state leaders to come through with additional funding by the summer, a plan which CTA board members weren't exactly enthusiastic about (Chairwoman Carole Brown used words such as "faith" and "hope for the best" when talking about the plan). CTA President Frank Kreusi warns that, if this gamble doesn't pay off, "then we are really, literally are in the process of dismantling public transit in this region ... a terrible, terrible loss." Keep your fingers crossed, commuters...

CTA's budget cuts may experience delay

The service cuts and layoffs that the CTA has been warning us all about if it doesn't get additional funding may be put off for a while, according to the Sun-Times. Illinois Senate President Emil Jones said that funding the CTA is going to be a "top legislative priority" for next year, and with this promising development the CTA board is expected to delay cost-cutting measures for at least six months when it holds a meeting tomorrow.

Pedway navigation

Winter is descending; if you work downtown it's time to consider the pedway again as a slightly warmer means of getting around. Last year, Alice Maggio did a two part article on the pedway that's worth revisiting. Or, if you want a printable version, check out this pedway map.

O'Hare busiest, most delayed airport

If you've been following the rivalry between O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for this year's title of the world's busiest airport, good news for you! The Sun-Times reports that O'Hare pulled ahead in November, and is set to hit a record of nearly one million flights this year. Of course, with this number of flights there are still quite a few delayed flights, and O'Hare will also take the title of world's most delayed airport with nearly 30% of its flights delayed.

Two choices