The 84 bus routes to be cut by CTA carried 308,262 passengers on an average September 2006 weekday. At an average vehicle occupancy (AVO) of 1.2,* that’s equivalent to 256,885 cars a day of capacity. Compare to these local roads’ AADTs (trucks excluded):
I-90 at Fullerton: 244,400
I-290 at Ashland: 189,700
Lake Shore Drive at Diversey: 150,650
Lake Shore Drive at Jackson: 131,700
I-55 at Damen: 131,500
and, just for kicks, let’s look at how many people some other transportation facilities nationwide carry on an average weekday:
Bay Area Rapid Transit: 365,300 (5th largest heavy rail system in country)
Miami-Dade Transit: 347,400
Portland Tri-Met: 325,400
Metra: 310,800 (2nd largest commuter rail system in country)
Seattle’s King County Transit buses: 294,500
Denver RTD: 267,400
San Diego MTS, Trolley, and Transit: 265,200
Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Transit: 241,700
St. Louis Bi-State Development Agency: 186,200
All Illinois transit services outside Chicago or St. Louis: 58,500
I-35W bridge over Mississippi, Brooklyn Bridge: 140,000 AADT (incl. trucks)
Golden Gate Bridge: 106,400 ADT
If the Kennedy bridge at Fullerton collapsed, or if terrorists took out both I-55 and Lake Shore Drive, or if Metra just up and died, how would this state’s government react? I bet they wouldn’t spend years squabbling, dilly-dallying, grand-standing, and pork-padding. Just because buses aren’t sexy doesn’t mean that they don’t serve the honest purpose of moving people around the transportation network — or that, when they’re cut, that people won’t be as hurt as if other modes experienced similar capacity reductions.
Sure, people will adapt to bus route elimination (reducing trips, taking alternate routes and modes), but they’d adapt to a freeway shutdown, too.
(And to answer some conspiracy theories about which routes were to be cut, even high-ridership routes were cut if they roughly parallel other services. Rush-hour shuttles — regardless of how packed — are not very cost-effective, as they require additional equipment and employees at peak hours when the service is already stretched to its limits. And CTA’s legal mandate doesn’t require it to cover Evanston.)
I might try to dig up some numbers on how much money the “casino capital bill” plans to siphon from Chicago to waste on largely unused Downstate roads — compared to the number of people who will be affected by shutting down transit services. From the Sun-Times’ Wednesday editorial:
Lawmakers have proposed just $425 million for mass transit for the entire state, and that’s dependent on getting casinos. Even under the proposed plan, we’re spending only $1 on transit for every $11 we spend on roads. Three years ago, it was $1 out of every $3.
Somehow Springfield doesn’t grasp that mass transit moves Chicago’s economy, and Chicago’s economy drives the state. Our leaders shouldn’t wait for the buses and trains to stop running before they pay attention.
* A local AVO of 1.2 is suggested by 2001 CATS observations of 1.1 to 1.25 AVO in a study of vehicles entering I-94. ADTs and truck ADTs from IDOT. Metra ridership from 2007 budget book. Other cities’ transit ridership from APTA 2Q 2007 report. Golden Gate Bridge is twice average daily toll counts from 2005, from MTC.