Jon Hilkevitch is the transportation reporter and Getting Around columnist for the Chicago Tribune. In 2001, a team of Tribune reporters co- ...

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Jon Hilkevitch

Jon Hilkevitch

Getting Around

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 My next trip begins now

My next trip begins now

December 20, 2015

On the ride of a lifetime, this is my stop.

  • Airlines padding O'Hare schedules despite new runways

    December 14, 2015

    A New York-to-Chicago flight takes up to an hour longer than it did in the 1990s, according to a new study that concluded the airlines are padding their schedules more than ever as they try to counter worsening congestion, bolster shaky on-time rates and appease better-informed passengers.

  • Transit agencies moving over to make room for ride-share services

    November 23, 2015

    A cease-fire is emerging between mass transit and an array of "sharing services'' in Chicago, a striking change from when public officials searching for solutions to traffic gridlock generally bowed to a simplistic formula advocated by the transit agencies:

  • A 'selfie' may be just the ticket for international travelers

    November 15, 2015

    The federal agency that protects the nation's borders cannot do anything to ensure that your flight will arrive on time this holiday season, but it says air travelers returning from trips outside the U.S. can "app-solutely'' increase their chances of flying through the customs hall at O'Hare International Airport.

  • CTA hit by vast graffiti attack at Red Line yard that source says has no cameras

    November 9, 2015

    How many taggers did it take to pull off one of the worst graffiti attacks on CTA trains in many years, and how were the aerosol vandals able to get away with it undetected at the busy south rail yard on the Red Line?

  • When planes land at O'Hare, trip just getting started

    November 2, 2015

    Tom Cablk was on one of American Airlines' new nonstop flights from Philadelphia to Bensenville last week and, jeez, the ride in from the runway took so long he could've used a sandwich.

  • City paving a smoother North Lake Shore Drive

    October 18, 2015

    A 1 1/2-mile stretch of North Lake Shore Drive downtown that handles 140,000 vehicles a day will receive a badly needed restoration starting Monday.

  • Build more and better bike lanes, cycling advocates urge Chicago

    October 11, 2015

    Chicago should double down on its plan to build an additional 50 miles of bike lanes by the end of 2019, according to a local bicycling advocacy group that says the city already has received federal grants to accomplish a more ambitious goal.

  • If driving has peaked in major cities, what's next?

    October 4, 2015

    Almost 2.7 million people drive alone to work on an average weekday in the six-county Chicago region, accounting for more than two-thirds of all commuting trips, but many experts are convinced that a corner has been turned and the dominance of the car is ending in metropolitan areas around the world.

  • 'Ghost planes' display aid at O'Hare helping safety, capacity problems

    September 28, 2015

    "Ghost" images of planes landing at O'Hare International Airport are helping air-traffic controllers safely stagger jets on converging flight paths in the crowded airspace near the airfield, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

  • United Airlines is yanking moving walkways at O'Hare concourse

    September 21, 2015

    Inside one of the busiest concourses at O'Hare International Airport, the recorded announcement cautioning travelers that "the moving walkway is now ending'' means what it says.

  • Amtrak expands rails-to-trails service for cyclists

    September 14, 2015

    "All aboard, Amtrak'' becomes a more inclusive invitation starting Monday, geared toward rail passengers traveling with bicycles.

  • CTA bus rapid transit service to debut with fewer bells and whistles

    September 7, 2015

    Traffic-clogging construction has been underway for almost six months on Loop Link, the Emanuel administration's experiment intended to speed CTA buses through downtown, yet the bus rapid transit service will be launched late this year with fewer features than originally promised, officials told the Tribune.

  • CTA rail cars use unconventional route to get to the shop

    August 31, 2015

    Collisions, workers changing lightbulbs on the side of the road or police vehicles with emergency lights ablaze are the typical reasons that rubbernecking motorists slow down to see what's happening.

  • On Metra, your gender is now your own business

    August 24, 2015

    It makes good sense in some places, most obviously public restrooms, to establish basic rules distinguishing use by males and females.

  • A neighborly approach to sharing your car kicks off

    August 10, 2015

    A new type of neighborhood car-sharing program has been launched in Chicago, including in high-rise residential buildings and areas with large pockets of low-wage earners, under a study aimed at expanding transportation options while reducing overall car ownership in the city, officials will announce Monday.

  • Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    August 3, 2015

    The heavy lifting will begin this month on the overhaul of the Byrne Interchange near downtown Chicago, leading to anticipated expressway traffic tie-ups mostly over four weekends stretching into the fall, officials will announce Monday.

  • Turbulence surrounds O'Hare anti-noise groups

    July 26, 2015

    A long-established O'Hare noise watchdog group criticized in the past as being little more than a lapdog of Chicago City Hall is now re-marking its turf.

  • As public meetings near on O'Hare noise, are changes in the air?

    July 20, 2015

    If any chance still remains for Chicago-area residents overwhelmed by jet noise to influence the rest of the expansion project at O'Hare International Airport, it may come down to four public meetings in August and their testimony.

  • Western Avenue overpass razing delayed but will overlap with Damen project

    July 5, 2015

    Getting Around question of the day:

  • Amtrak plans Union Station makeover

    June 29, 2015

    Amtrak is betting millions of dollars to transform Union Station into an entertainment and tourist destination, complete with restaurants and outdoor cafes, retail, a hotel and even a grocery store, Getting Around has learned.

  • A final farewell to an old Loop railhouse

    June 22, 2015

    The 119-year-old Loop "L" station house at Madison Street and Wabash Avenue, a Chicago icon to some but a dilapidated eyesore to others, will begin to be taken down this week.

  • New CTA boss Dorval Carter Jr.'s view: Faster buses, quieter riders on phone

    June 14, 2015

    Dorval Carter Jr. didn't spend a lot of time worrying about keeping trains and buses running during the more than 30 years he worked in mass transit as a legal eagle, a gatekeeper of federal grants and a top policy adviser to the Obama administration's transportation czar.

  • Comic art imitates life on the CTA

    June 7, 2015

    Riders on a CTA train are minding their own business when suddenly an emergency evacuation door connecting the rail cars bursts open and a man menacingly appears.

  • Chicago surveys fliers as Rahm's rhetoric on O'Hare express train heats up

    May 31, 2015

    The CTA and the city of Chicago are surveying thousands of passengers who use O'Hare International Airport to learn more about their trips, focusing on how people commute to and from the airport.

  • Safety tips for riders as summer kicks transit crime into high gear

    May 24, 2015

    Last year's decline in serious crimes reported on the CTA has continued through the first four months of 2015, according to new Chicago police data obtained by the Tribune, but riders are being cautioned against lowering their guard over the summer, one of the busiest times of the year on the transit system.

  • Memorial Day weekend expected to open deadlier summer road travel season

    May 17, 2015

    More people will be killed in traffic accidents this summer than during the same time a year ago, safety experts predict as the Memorial Day travel week is about to get underway.

  • Dear new CTA president: Welcome, and watch your step, please

    May 10, 2015

    An open letter to Dorval Carter Jr., incoming president of the Chicago Transit Authority, offering a few ideas about how to build the CTA into a world-class transit system.

  • On airliners, bathroom privileges are not a passenger's right

    May 3, 2015

    It should have been a pleasant day to fly – partly sunny with a sprinkling of rain possible – for the passengers on the more than 21/2 -hour American Eagle Airlines flight late last month to Chicago from the East Coast.

  • CTA rounding the curve slowly on next rail car purchase

    April 26, 2015

    The CTA is again readjusting its sights before spending roughly $2 billion on a new generation of rail cars, aiming to hit the bull's-eye with the first train order during the Emanuel administration, transit officials said.

  • Lakefront trail project on a slow and risky path

    April 19, 2015

    The original section of the Great Wall of China went up in about 20 years. The 110-story Sears Tower was erected in only three years. So how long does it take to build a roughly 2,700-foot-long pedestrian bridge in Chicago?

  • More O'Hare runways in the wings, but how will they help?

    April 12, 2015

    The outcry over jet noise from O'Hare International Airport that reached a fever pitch over the last year and a half is likely to intensify further this summer when takeoff and landing simulation data becomes available ahead of a new runway opening this fall.

  • Riders call out CTA over train driver's grammar, glitch-induced free rides

    April 5, 2015

    Riders offer their unique perspectives on what alarms them about the Chicago Transit Authority.

  • Ventra contract swells by about $65 million because of add-ons

    March 29, 2015

    The cost of the Ventra transit fare-collection system has climbed to above $500 million, a 14 percent increase since the Chicago Transit Authority signed the original contract in late 2011, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

  • O'Hare taxi passengers, drivers often in holding pattern

    March 16, 2015

    The number of taxi trips from O'Hare International Airport to Chicago is setting records, according to the city, but a half-century-old system of staging and summoning cabs leaves passengers and drivers alike stuck in sporadic logjams during peak travel times.

  • How will CTA juggle more rail riders, less state funding?

    March 8, 2015

    Given a choice, a transit agency would rather deal with the challenges of ridership growth than a decline, and the Chicago Transit Authority faces the mixed blessing of both — with the added threat of $105 million in state funding cuts to the CTA sought by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

  • CTA to double speed of some downtown buses that crawl at 3 mph

    March 2, 2015

    A long-awaited project designed to more than double the 3-mph average speed of CTA buses traveling across the middle of downtown will be called Loop Link, and construction of bus-only lanes and rapid transit-style boarding stations is set to begin in two weeks, city officials were set to announce Monday.

  • Byrne Interchange flyover construction to begin but dire warning toned down

    February 23, 2015

    A major bridge construction project will start in less than two weeks at the busiest highway junction in the Chicago area, the Byrne Interchange, roughly a mile south of where a bridge replacement last summer prompted traffic engineers to warn drivers to stay away or risk "carmageddon."

  • Long-awaited Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line station opens

    February 9, 2015

    A roughly 2 1/2-mile gap in CTA rail service that lasted 38 years on the Near South Side was eliminated Sunday, when Green Line trains started making stops at a station on Cermak Road near State Street.

  • Where are the Chicago-area construction projects in 2015?

    February 1, 2015

    A boatload of transportation projects, including completion of the first phase of the Chicago Riverwalk extension, will be launched or resume in early 2015, regardless of whether an early spring is in the offing.

  • Online maps will outline Chicago-area's transportation woes, need for money

    January 26, 2015

    A website launching Monday will turn wonkish government data into interactive maps on the quality of bridges, roads and rail transportation across Cook and six other counties with the intention of rousing the public to push for costly upgrades and expansions.

  • Could cheaper gas further fuel dip in mass transit ridership?

    January 11, 2015

    How can plummeting gas prices be a cause of concern for Chicago-area transit agencies and millions of riders?

  • Answers to chronic flight delays may be buried in the numbers

    December 28, 2014

    Efforts to restore what's conspicuously absent in the airline industry — consistently reliable service — are getting a boost from the work of University of Michigan researchers who are looking closely at 73 million flights during the past decade.

  • What makes an 1800s rail station worth saving? Experts differ

    December 22, 2014

    Blue Line service resumes Monday at the CTA's Damen stop in Wicker Park after a $13.6 million station restoration that, viewed from the brick building's exterior, provides the most accurate depiction to date of what commuters first saw 119 years ago, according to transit officials and local historians.

  • Chicago mass transit projects stay on track in federal spending bill

    December 14, 2014

    A $1.1 trillion spending bill that Congress completed action on over the weekend will provide funding to keep Chicago-area mass transit and roadway projects moving forward, as well as expand pedestrian and bicycle safety programs, transportation officials said.

  • Just when drivers think congestion couldn't get any worse

    December 7, 2014

    Drivers last week endured delays caused by protests, rush-hour sign-repair work and gapers' block backups.

  • Cook County holds transportation policy open houses

    November 30, 2014

    It's back to work and school after a holiday weekend, and there is plenty going on in the world of transportation.

  • Most stop-for-pedestrian signs hit by drivers, city data show

    November 24, 2014

    Signs placed in the road alerting motorists they must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks are a popular safety tool in Chicago neighborhoods, city officials say. Among drivers, they're another kind of big hit.

  • Advocates: Transit riders deserve a tax break to match drivers who park

    November 16, 2014

    In a transportation world not firing on all cylinders, people who crowd the roads every day by driving to work are offered nearly twice the federal tax relief for parking costs that is available to commuters who help reduce congestion and pollution by climbing aboard trains and buses.

  • Midway safety system will bring jets to grinding halt

    November 9, 2014

    Midway Airport is the first airport in the world to install a bed of lightweight glass rocks beyond the end of a runway that in an emergency crumbles to bring a landing jet traveling at 80 mph to a halt, according to aviation officials.

  • Voters get chance to be heard on O'Hare noise problem

    November 2, 2014

    As the number of complaints about jet noise from O'Hare International Airport have set new records nearly every month over the past year, Chicago officials have responded that only a relatively few households are the sources of those gripes.

  • Chicago wants to roll out universal app for hailing taxis

    October 26, 2014

    The rapidly expanding rides-for-hire industry in Chicago is undergoing more change Monday.

  • Smoother O'Hare landings face technical headwind

    October 20, 2014

    Landings on the most heavily used arrival runway at O'Hare International Airport will soon be safer and more accurate while also saving fuel and perhaps reducing jet noise over Chicago neighborhoods.

  • O'Hare takes step to host huge Airbus A380

    October 13, 2014

    The new runway that opened a year ago at O'Hare International Airport is both long and wide enough to handle the world's largest passenger airplane. But the behemoth Airbus A380 jetliner is not yet flying to Chicago, in part because there isn't a gate that can accommodate it.

  • Revamp of Loop traffic, bus-only route and bike lanes moving forward

    September 29, 2014

    The Emanuel administration will announce Monday that it is seeking bids to construct three long-planned transit projects aimed at providing faster and more reliable service for hundreds of thousands of daily commuters and city visitors who ride CTA buses and Loop elevated trains in the increasingly gridlocked central business district.

  • Bike-sharing in Paris is expensive tour de France

    September 21, 2014

    PARIS From the top deck of the Eiffel Tower to the subway tunnels, everywhere a tourist goes in Paris there are warnings to beware of pickpockets.

  • Many drivers ignoring crosswalk law: study

    September 7, 2014

    Most drivers tracked in a new Chicago-area survey failed to comply with a state law requiring them to stop for pedestrians, a finding that the research's backers attribute to inadequate police enforcement and education on traffic-safety laws.

  • Author tells story of Chicago's transportation past

    September 1, 2014

    When it comes to transportation, the Chicago region has a bad case of terminal neglect.

  • Chicago Riverwalk extension no cakewalk

    August 25, 2014

    Building land on water isn't an everyday job, and the $100 million project to extend the Chicago Riverwalk requires more than getting toes wet.

  • Argonne helping quieter jet engines take off

    August 17, 2014

    Downstream from the noisiest places in Chicago — the runways at O'Hare International Airport and the surrounding sky — scientists at a government laboratory are quietly working to understand at the most detailed level why jet engines are so loud and what might be done to reduce the annoying sound.

  • Private jet for $536? It's a SuiteDeal

    August 11, 2014

    Southwest Airlines began revolutionizing the jet-setting world of air travel roughly four decades ago with its no-frills service and helped reshape the U.S. airline industry into the mass transit system of the sky — complete with overcrowding, delays and other hassles long familiar to train and bus commuters.

  • 'Transit deserts' don't serve workers, study says

    August 4, 2014

    About 1 out of every 10 people in Cook County, roughly 438,500 residents, live in "transit deserts'' that are cut off from fast, frequent train and bus service, according to a new analysis that for the first time identifies dozens of Chicago-area mass transit dead zones and maps them in relation to major job clusters.

  • As a rule, priority seating means something on CTA trips

    July 21, 2014

    Readers sometimes ask how I get around, and some people even suggest they already know the answer based on perceived tea leaves in my writing.

  • Getting Around: CDOT upgrades to straighten out kinks in bike route

    July 14, 2014

    Dear Getting Around: You've got mail.

  • Lake Shore Drive seeking road to the future

    July 6, 2014

    North Lake Shore Drive is a mess for many of the quarter-million drivers, bus passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists who use it each day, according to new research from city and state transportation officials who are planning an overhaul of the aging boulevard.

  • Getting Around: Old shingles get new life on O'Hare runway

    June 30, 2014

    While a runway at O'Hare International Airport that opened last year is sometimes called the "cemetery airstrip'' because part of it sits on a former graveyard, the next runway set to debut in late 2015 could earn the nickname "Shingles,'' and not because Chicago officials are hoping the number of flights will go through the roof.

  • Free transit rides come with a price as numbers soar

    June 22, 2014

    First it was Rod Blagojevich who sent free rides soaring on the Chicago area's transit system, and now the lingering effects of the Great Recession are keeping the numbers high, experts say.

  • South Lake Shore Drive extension opens Oct. 27

    October 14, 2013

    The South Lake Shore Drive extension, Chicago's newest roadway, is less than two weeks away from opening along a part of the city that for more than 100 years most people have seen only from a distance.

  • Getting Around: Storms sock on-time numbers at O'Hare

    July 15, 2013

    This year's weather has been among the worst in a decade for air travel in the United States, aviation authorities say, with the most volatile period possibly still ahead as the summer thunderstorm season is underway.

  • Railroad police on high alert as Sept. 11 anniversary approaches

    September 5, 2011

    Railroad police are on high alert for suicide bombers at Union Station in Chicago as the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks approaches this week, authorities said.

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