The preservation and upgrading of roads and the public
transportation network in the northeastern Illinois region is of
major importance. The transportation system comprises a major portion of the regional infrastructure and will require
substantial investment over the next few years in order to continue to serve the region.  The following discussion
highlights needed transit and highway projects as well as cost containment measures.


The restructuring of the Regional Transportation Authority in 1984 has improved the responsiveness of public transportation agencies.  The R.T.A. is now an umbrella agency, providing financing, planning, and coordination for the Chicago Transit Authority, commuter rail board (METRA), and suburban bus board (PACE).  The systems are now somewhat autonomous and seem to be able to exercise more flexible leadership for improvements to their portion of the mass transit system. The new structure does increase the potential for duplication of service and scheduling and coordination problems among transit systems.  Whether the new R.T.A. structure will be superior to the old organization remains to be seen.    
The financial pressures that impacted the R.T.A. in the early 1980's remain.  They will likely lead to future financial problems.  Wages and other costs remain high and it appears that operational expenses with such pressures as demand for salary increases will continue to outstrip increases in fares and subsidies.   

Subsidies make up about 50% of the total cost of transit in the six county region, with fares making up the balance of transit costs. It would appear unlikely that subsidies will increase at the rate of inflation. Therefore, the transit providers must aggressively pursue cost containment if major fare increases or service cutbacks are to be avoided.
The principle cost of public transit is labor,  primarily vehicle operators, mechanics, and management.  The only way to
effectively hold down costs for transit is to minimize wage
increases, maintain lean staffs, and pare overhead to a minimum. Increasing productivity is a requirement.  Each agency must work to gain part time workers as operators.  
A number of alternatives to improve service and contain costs are available, although difficult to implement politically. The support of labor unions must be gained and efforts made to show that a healthy system is to their benefit.
These include the following:
In public transit, personnel costs are the single largest cost to the system.  Efforts to make each vehicle operator more
productive are essential to cost containment.  It follows that planning and marketing efforts should be aimed at getting riders on the most productive modes, so that labor costs are minimized.Efforts to use larger buses, and longer trains should be encouraged.  
Because the highest transit demand is experienced during the morning and evening peak period, the number of vehicle operators is determined by the need to service the peak period demand. This leads to under utilization of some personnel during midday and evening periods, particularly on systems that do not operate on a 24 hour period. The use of some part time operators can be very cost effective. Transit agencies should actively pursue hiring part time labor and the unions are encouraged to support this effort. By making transit more efficient and less costly, labor can actually increase the job security of their employees.
Many trips are made that only require rush hour service in one direction, such as some work trips to the CBD of Chicago. Using one way buses with part time drivers to make one trip into the loop in the morning and one trip out it the afternoon is a cost effective method.  The buses can be parked near the loop, and the driver can work normal hours at his or her downtown job. This program copies some of the ride sharing programs now being conducted in the private sector, but addresses unmet need and services that are expensive for the RTA and prohibitively expensive in the private sector.
This approach reduces dead head trips back to the suburbs during the peak period. This results in less congestion, oil
consumption, air pollution, and wear and tear on vehicles and roads. One way buses should be pursued where practical.
The total cost to the transit system is driven by peak period ridership.  By spreading the peak period demand over several hours, buses and trains can be recycled for a second peak period trip and the number of trains, buses, and operators can be reduced.   
A simple illustration would be a typical commuter rail operation, with 10 trains arriving downtown between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. Only one or two of those trains arrives downtown in time to be recycled to the distant suburbs and make a second peak period trip.  The cost to the public for that train and train crew is primarily for that one a.m. peak and one p.m. peak period trip.
If the peak period could be lengthened from 6:30 to 10:00 a.m., and from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m., most of the trains and train crews could make a second peak period inbound and outbound trip. The system would carry the same number of people, using fewer trains and train crews.  
The road system would also be considerably less congested if the peak period was spread, resulting in less gasoline usage, air pollution, and total time lost in commuting. The need for additional traffic lanes might also be reduced.  The peak demand on virtually all service establishments would also be lessened.
The R.T.A. should work with civic organizations and employers to determine the level of interest and support for spreading the time of the peak travel period. As a matter of civic leadership government employers could lead the effort to institute flex time.  If the banks and insurance companies could be persuaded to follow suit, the peak period would be effectively expanded.
Although practical and efficient, the flex time concept is difficult to sell to both employers and commuters. A major effort of civic leadership would be required to change the working habits of many individuals.   
As a result of the fare increases in 1981-82, a number of commuter clubs were formed and the participants chartered private school buses on a month-to-month basis for the work trip.  The bus picked up commuters near their homes, transported them to the loop, and then parked the buses all day near the loop waiting for the return trip.  The buses were usually school buses designed for children which provided a relatively uncomfortable ride. However, the cost was substantially less than the publicly subsidized system, primarily because of the reduced cost of labor.
The impact on R.T.A. was mixed.  Some passengers were diverted from commuter trains, which resulted in a reduction in revenue to R.T.A.  However, if the diversion would become large, peak period trains could be reduced, and money saved.  
The R.T.A. should seriously analyze the situation to determine the actual impact to the R.T.A. and perhaps even provide vehicles for private bus systems, if the overall impact to riders and to taxpayers is neutral or positive.  

There are a number of situations where improved coordination among R.T.A. systems could lower costs. Coordination is difficult, since schedules must be developed to serve a variety of needs.  However, there are some areas where coordination would benefit the public with improved service at reduced public expenditure. The following is a listing of some of those areas:

Norfolk & Western Commuter Railroad/Route 835---The railroad provides two peak period round trips per day from Orland Park into Chicago, while the bus system provides 12 round trips per day through the same communities on essentially the same route.

The systems compete head to head for the same peak period market.  The fare schedules are identical.  The system should be marketed jointly, with a joint schedule and fare.  The system should gradually evolve so that the railroad takes the bulk of the peak period traffic, while the bus provides all day and evening service.
ICG Joliet Commuter Line/Route 831/832---The situation here is similar to the situation described above.  The two systems should be jointly marketed, with coordinated scheduling and fare structure. The bus system would provide evening and midday service.

The rail line and bus route service the Heritage Corridor, with an opportunity to provide access to the historic and cultural
attractions in the corridor.
In City Use of Commuter Rail---In general, the cost to short distance riders within the City of Chicago should be reduced to C.T.A. levels.  For riders within walking distance of railroad stations, the most effective way to travel to the loop is via that railroad.  Because of lowered cost for C.T.A., however, most individuals do not use the system.
This results in actual higher cost in public subsidy, since the commuter must take a C.T.A. bus instead of the train, and often rides the bus several miles past the commuter rail station to the rapid transit station. The number of peak period riders on a given route drives the number of buses on that route, and hence the cost to the bus system. By attracting the passenger to the more capacious and productive rail system, public transport is improved at reduced public cost.      
The rider wishes to spend as little time as possible in
commuting. This is also in the best interests of the R.T.A. The diversion of riders from slow moving buses to the rail system reduces demand for buses, and hence total system cost. It could also have important implications for the redevelopment of city neighborhoods. Many in city train stations once flourished, but have been closed. Some of these stations could be reopened in conjunction with efforts to revitalize the neighborhood around the station.   
ICG South Chicago Branch/Route 6---The ICG South Chicago Branch provides frequent electric train service to the loop, and high density Lake front apartments have developed at the train stations.  The C.T.A. provides a competing bus service essentially parallel to the train.  The train is faster, more comfortable, less polluting, and less costly to the public on a per seat basis, but most riders use the bus because it is cheaper.
The fare on this system should be revised to be the same as the bus system. Monthly passes should be acceptable on both systems. Each 60 peak period riders diverted from Route 6 to the train enable C.T.A. to save one peak period bus and driver, at substantial annual savings.  

Off Peak/Reverse Commute Ridership---The off peak and reverse commute ridership on the commuter rail system is low.  Special marketing efforts and reduced fares should be used to encourage ridership. Villages and towns should be encouraged to work with developers to revitalize rail downtown areas.  
Short Distance Commuter Rail Ridership---The commuter rail system carries few people between suburbs, for a variety of reasons.  The cost of providing suburb to suburb service on the trains is very low, because the cost of the system and the schedule is determined by peak period demand to and from downtown Chicago.
The cost of the suburb to suburb trip should be reduced to a bus fare cost to encourage ridership. On peak direction trips seats on the railroad can then be sold two times.

Illiana Suburban Commuter Railroad--The suburban area on the Illinois-Indiana border has a substantial number of commuters to the Chicago central business district.  The area is distant from the ICG and South Shore Commuter Railroads, however, and most people make the long trip to the loop via bus or private automobile.

This area should be served by the development of a new commuter railroad.  Several existing rail lines serve this area, and a one or more commuter trains put into service.  

This service could be established during the two year period of the Dan Ryan improvements.  The service should be established.
Transit competes effectively against the private auto only when it is nearly as efficient as the private auto.  An excellent way to make transit efficient is to have major attractions at or near train stations.  A great deal of development can be keyed at train and CTA stations through proper planning. 

The in city commuter rail stations could be the location for major development.  The newly completed CTA line to O'Hare Airport could generate major development, particularly if air rights development over the expressway at existing or new stations is used.    
The development of the office buildings near and around O'Hare Airport has made the area between downtown Chicago and the airport very valuable.  Most of the development is suburban, however, since most of the area in Chicago in the northwest is developed.  

Chicago should seek to get its fair share of O'Hare stimulated development.  Air rights development over the Kennedy Expressway and tied to the Milwaukee Line Rapid Transit station could become a major development area in Chicago.

The physical design of the structure is fairly simple to
envision.  The Chicago Post office is built over an expressway and commuter train line.  Illinois Center is built over the downtown commuter rail ICG Station.  The new development would be a cross between these two developments.
The office hotel complex could become a premier meeting place.  Businessmen could fly to O'Hare and take the rapid transit line directly to their hotel and/or office building. Downtown businessmen could meet the out of town visitors at the office complex.
The air rights above the expressway is owned by the State. The City and State could work together to bring this valuable development to the region.  It should actually reduce congestion since the rapid transit would work so well. The Station should open directly into a lobby with elevator access up into the lobby of the complex.


The State Street Mall fulfills a function as an outdoor
strolling promenade. It can be pleasant on nice afternoon and is always interesting.  
It becomes deserted at night, however, primarily because there are few commercial uses on the street. The lack of traffic frightens many who would use the street. The Mall street should be opened to auto traffic after the evening rush hour is open.  The addition of auto traffic would enhance the feeling of safety on the street.   

One of the ways to make transit compete more effectively against the private auto is to make it more convenient and civilized.  It is important to reduce the amount of time spent in rain and snow. Enclosed parking garages should be constructed at commuter rail stations with covered access into train stations. Retail shops should be built in where practical.  
Parking garages can be marketed by towns in efforts to attract residents and business.  This is particular effective in
situations where the downtown train stations are connected to office buildings. The following is an example of the type of marketing pitch that could be made:
Move to our community, and never be cold again.  We have
constructed an enclosed garage which is attached to our commuter train station.  Leave your warm home via your attached garage and electric door opener.  Drive to our train station, access the train without going outside, and ride to your downtown office.  If your office is connected to your downtown train station you can throw your coat and boots away.
The southern suburbs have a significant advantage in this
scenario over the west and north suburbs since the Union and Northwestern Stations are across the Chicago River from the Loop, while the south suburban Stations are in the Loop. The ICG connects directly to Illinois Center, the Prudential Building, and many of the quality buildings on Michigan Ave, as indicated by the following.
How would you like to earn up to $20,000, and save 30 minutes a day commuting?  Move to the southern suburbs, where a home of comparable to your present house can be purchased at considerable savings.  You will be conveniently located close to the METRA Electric Commuter Railroad which provides direct access to Michigan Avenue.
Use the money you save in housing to start a business or for savings. The time is even more important--your cross town trip on the bus or walking in the rain could be quality time.  Over a 40 year career you could save  the equivalent of two and one half working years. (30 minutes per day * 250 days a year * 40 years =  5,000 hours).  Use that time to write the great American novel, read, play, work, or workout.
If you want to use the money and time that you save to start a business, our offices are available to you.  The southern suburbs offer one stop shopping for assistance in starting a business-all at no cost. Thank you for considering the southern suburbs. We hope you will become our neighbor.

The road system in the six county region functions relatively well, but is inadequate for rush hour traffic. The year 2,000 Highway Plan for the region is a good plan, despite the lack of funds for full implementation. Construction priorities for the plan should be developed.
The decision to build the north- south tollroad through DuPage County appears to be a necessity, given the rapid and continued growth of the area.  An area in need of greatly improved east west roadways is north Cook County. The area between the Lake and in the vicinity of O'hare Airport has grown tremendously, without a very efficient method of travelling east to west.  The development of the new TRANSPART agency, combining public and private interests and resources in transportation planning is a excellent start in addressing this crippling situation.    

However, the needs for new expressway lanes at rush hour exceeds the financial capacity of the region to provide those lanes.  Limited expansion and improvement is recommended, but continued efforts to shift demand to transit and to spread peak period traffic are recommended.
Commuter parking lots at transit stations are recommended to divert some expressways traffic.  The parking lots should be safe and pleasant, developed in conjunction with convenience stores, with marketing efforts aimed at shifting drivers from the expressway to the transit system.  New commuter stations located where commuter railroads intersect freeways could also shift demand to transit.
Interstate 294 should be analyzed in detail to determine if new interchanges could improve the roadway.  Intersections in the south suburban area are limited, and the road has had little positive economic impact. Additional interchanges could improve the functioning of the road by allowing traffic to divert when accidents occur.
The regional road and public transportation network is an important asset to the region. It must be maintained and
improved. Given scarce resources, efforts should be made to implement some of the strategies outlined in this paper.
The region and the State need a third airport in the Chicago region.  O'Hare and Midway Airports will clearly become to crowded in the future. Traffic access to both airports will become an even greater problem.  A third airport would enhance the two existing airports by making them less congested.
The new airport should be located south of Chicago for a number of reasons. The southern portion of the region has been badly hurt by the industrial recession. The area needs the tax base, jobs and development. Because of its economic problems, the region is very pro growth and desires the airport.  While west and north areas object to a new airport because of objections to growth.
O'Hare Airport is on the northwest portion of the region, and Midway is near south. Locating the airport near I-55, I-57, I-65 and I-80 will draw passengers from mid-state Illinois and parts of Iowa and Indiana. Approximately 2.5 million people would be closer to this airport than to the major airports  at Chicago, St Louis, and Indianapolis.  This results in more than enough people to support a major airport.
The new airport would become the airport of choice for the cities of Bloomington, Normal, Decatur, Kankakee, Joliet, Peoria and Champaign, northwest Indiana, and the southern suburbs. The new airport could greatly enhance the economy of the region, which has been hurt by the recession.
The new airport should be marketed as the ILLINOIS AIRPORT instead of the Third Chicago Regional Airport. The airport should be designed not to hurt the City of Chicago, but to help the city.
The airport will be opposite O'Hare.  Downtown Chicago will be the logical meeting point between the two airports. By drawing off downstate traffic the airport will actually free up O'Hare and Midway for Chicago oriented traffic.  The result is to lessen auto traffic congestion around the existing airport making its use more desirable.
The new airport should also function as a military reserve air
facility, replacing the Naval Air Station at Glenview.  That facility is too close to O'Hare for safety.  Likewise, the enlisted servicemen simply can't afford the high housing costs around the airport.  The land the base is located on is extremely valuable. Should the facility move it could be sold for quality development.  The proceeds could be used to help construct the new ILLINOIS AIRPORT, located near the Joliet Arsenal.   
The ILLINOIS AIRPORT/NAVAL AIR STATION could provide the impetus to bring major Federal dollars into the construction of the airport. The site would work about as well for military reserves as Glenview, since reserves travel hundreds of miles to drills. The new airport is located within easy commuting distance for Reserves in the Chicago region and near the Interstates of I-55/57/65/80.
The combination military/civilian airport will ensure adequate use of the facility during early years and will help to finance the airport. The ILLINOIS AIRPORT/NAVAL AIR STATION should be developed in the near future.