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Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Because I’m being asked this quite often these days…. here’s why I chose Chicago.

I’ve had a love affair with Chicago since I was a kid and saw it from atop the then Sears Tower.

Architecture: When I was studying architecture (and don’t we all still do that simply by living here?) it wasn’t just the modern classics from Sullivan, Wright, Mies that captured my attention.  It was a continuos stream of architectural innovation.  To this day I have magazine clippings of GREAT residential architecture that fits on a twenty-five foot wide city lot.

Shopping: The best shopping in the mid-west is on North Michigan Avenue.  From traditional favorites to the boutiques from Italy and France.  The Magnificent Mile is lined with the best of the best from around the world.  I’m not a big fan of shopping, but if I want the most stylish, it’s found on the Mag Mile.  Or at the Brown Elephant thrift stores where the throw-aways from Gold Coast and Lakeview neighborhoods are found for pennies on the dollar.

Theater: Whether its a Broadway show, a store-front theater, a first-run movie, an independent film, The Gene Siskel Film Center, the ballet, the opera or any one of the numerous film festivals that take place here – there is always, and I do mean ALWAYS something of interest playing on a stage or screen in this city.  Even theaters that are in need of renovation are still bustling with patrons.  Spend a lot or a little – the choice is yours.

Museums: No lack of these either.  Natural History.  Shedd Aquarium.  Art Institute of Chicago. Museum of Contemporary Art – These are just the one’s downtown.  I don’t even know all of them.  But again, there’s bound to be something interesting in any one of them at any given time.

Politics: The best theater in town!  This town thrives on politics and it’s a good idea to know you’re Alderman.  Debates?  A block-long line awaited the last mayoral debate at a downtown theater prior to the election.  I got my ticket when I met a woman under the L tracks on Wabash – she was able to get me one when my Alderman couldn’t.  And what better city to end it all when you’re caught red-handed?  We’ve got plenty of railroad tracks and the Chicago River.

Transportation: Two airports.  Three airline hubs.  Amtrak.  Commuter rail.  The L and busses operated by the Chicago Transit Authority.  And my two feet.  No need for a car here which means I’ll save a ton of money over a lifetime. Both airports and Union Station are accessible by bus and/or train.

Walkability: Two grocery stores.  Two drug stores. The library.  The butcher.  Farmer’s markets (in the summer).  The liquor store.  The dry cleaner (which one? There’s one under every L stop).  My Alderman’s office.  Countless locally-owned bars and restaurants.  Dunkin Donuts!  All within a few blocks of home.

Lake Michigan: Boats, beaches, bikes and balconies line Lake Michigan with plenty of public space for everyone.  Granted, the beaches are packed throughout the summer – but there’s no better place to cool off than Lake Michigan.  I’m looking forward to getting my bike out for a nice ride down to Millennium Park.

Millennium Park: The new outdoor center of downtown Chicago.  Gardens, sculpture and architecture combined into a venue that hosts free concerts from symphonies to high-school dance troops.  Ice skating in the winter and a beautiful front lawn for the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

Citizenry: We’ve got our share of thugs and bad guys – but they love living here just as much as the rest of us.  It’s exhilarating to be surrounded by eight-million or so people that absolutely love this city.  Chicago is still attracting immigrants from around the world – and the streets are filled with sounds of various languages.  Do not debate pizza quality here.

Cost: I would have never imagined it possible to cut my living expenses in half by living in a first-tier city but it’s possible now.  In fact, it costs me less to live here now than it did to live in Salt Lake City in 1998.

Two things are happening to cause this phenomenon – old residents are dying leaving behind paid-for condos that have to be sold and, the real-estate boom caused over-building.  Houses with yards are still somewhat expensive, but high-rise living has never been this affordable.   The fact is, living in some of these lake-front high-rises can be cheaper than paying rent.

And on that note, you should consider buying a place in my building.  Haven’t you always wanted a place on a lake?

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COTA is once again expanding service beginning January 1st 2010.  New service extends weekend hours, adding two new line-ups on both Saturday and Sunday.

Currently the last downtown line-up is at 10pm.  The new service adds both and 11pm and 12am departures in all directions.  On Sunday as well, two new line-ups are added at 8pm and 9pm.  Previously the last Sunday departure was between 6pm and 7pm depending upon the route.

The downtown line-up is when all busses arrive, wait for transfers, then depart.  It is an effective method of ensuring that customers have access to connecting busses and helps COTA re-set any schedule fluctuations that have occurred.

Fares also increase beginning January 1st.  One-way single fare local will be $1.75 up from $1.50 and monthly passes increase to $55 up from $45.  The last fare increase took place in 2006 however a tax levy of 0.25% passed in 2006 offered COTA additional revenue to increase service.  However, the recession has led to reduced spending and thus reduced tax revenues for COTA.

The extended services on the weekend routes offer tremendous potential for Columbus residents and businesses.  Venues such as the Arena District and Short North are now accessible without the need for a taxi after 10p which is often about the time the fun gets started on a Saturday night.  Visitors to Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park can now travel via COTA following hockey and baseball games and concerts, which should help alleviate congestion.

Sunday’s service extension is a benefit to both retailers and employees, offering greater access to all parts of the city to more people.  Adding almost three additional hours of transit access on Sunday increases the employment opportunities for most Columbus residents.

For more information, please visit www.cota.com

From a personal standpoint, these service additions make it almost possible to eliminate the car for the sake of commuting to work.  There is only one instance now where I would have to use the car, whereas in the past, I had to calculate my schedule precisely and any delay would have meant the need for a taxi.  That potential led me to drive more often, just in case.  That worry is eliminated with the extended COTA service.

It may also mean that a 2010 COTA Challenge is about to begin.

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