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

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.

  • O'Hare runway construction: Flying into a danger zone

    March 28, 2011

    The almost-completed first phase of O'Hare International Airport's expansion had close calls that could have resulted in fatal airplane crashes, according to a Tribune investigation of incidents filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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