The Chicago area’s public transportation infrastructure is built in a spoke and hub configuration with the center of the City of Chicago being the hub and the Expressways, L System and Metra being the spokes. Like a bicycle wheel, relative distance from spoke to spoke increases the further distance from the hub leaving significant pie shaped areas of the Suburbs without mass transit. In addition, many commuters do not travel to the city but rather to other suburban areas leaving them without a mass transit alternative. Pace Suburban Bus offers some cross-suburban transportation options, but it has limits in terms of the number of commuters that can be accommodated via bus routes and issues related to convenience of bus stop locations and frequency. As a result of these transportation infrastructure limitations, suburban traffic congestion in the suburbs of Chicago is growing and an alternative to the automobile is highly desired.
Initial research of a Suburban Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit System is being undertaken by students from Brazil who are participating in a special summer 2016 research program. This summer’s research will advance initial research of the project that actually began in summer of 2015. We anticipate that this summer’s research effort will identify and quantify major constraints and significant hurdles that require solutions.
This fall 2016 IPRO team will start by reviewing the constraints and hurdles identified during the summer. The objective of this IPRO project is to develop a comprehensive monorail transit plan that, when presented to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) (http://cmap.illinois.gov), will influence the agency’s transportation plans outlined in the 2040 CMAP Plan scheduled to be prioritized in late 2017 and finalized in 2018.
The team will organize in sub-teams working on the benefits and practicality of a suburban monorail system, analyzing existing highway right of way, population density patterns, travel patterns, system utilization and capital investment. The team will develop and provide justification for a plan for SMART – Suburban Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit and present the plan to CMAP.