Chicago (once again) considering premium rail link to O’Hare

If you have ever flown into Chicago’s O’Hare airport, you’ll know that the train ride between the airport and downtown is not a great experience. Sure, it’ll get you where you need to be, but when compared to other major international airports, it could really do with an upgrade.

So, once again, Mayor Daley has dusted off the plans to launch a premium rail link connecting Downtown with the airport. The O’Hare Express may or may not run over existing tracks, which already brings out a major problem – an express train will never be an express train if it has to constantly wait for existing commuter trains.

Other options include creating bypass tracks, but with a proposed $15 or $20 fee for the premium link, the ride duration would really have to come down considerably when compared to the current 45 minute trip. In the previous proposal to create a fast rail link, only 10 or 15 minutes could be shaved off the ride, which would obviously be a very hard sell.

My thoughts? It doesn’t make sense to do this unless they are willing to do it right. The link needs dedicated tracks, new modern rolling stock and modern stations. When you compare the Blue Line with the rapid rail services in Hong Kong or even London, it isn’t hard to see that we have a lot of catching up to do.

[Photo from Flickr/Senor Codo]

Chicago solution to budget problems: get passengers liquored up at O’Hare

Chicago’s Mayor Daley has come up with a creative way to deal with his constant budget issues – introduce alcohol carts at Chicago O’Hare. The plan would allow current liquor license holders to sell booze at spots where there are no nearby restaurants or bars.

Thankfully, the idea isn’t as controversial as plans to sell booze at the baggage claim area, like McCarran in Las Vegas, but in a day and age where planes are quite regularly diverted because of drunk passengers, I’m not sure providing easier access to booze is such a good idea.

Worse yet, chances are that none of the cash generated for the city would go back to the airport – an airport that really needs all the help it can get. Anyone that has passed through O’Hare knows that it isn’t exactly a very welcoming airport. In the Daley plan, you’ll soon have an easier time finding someone selling cocktails than finding a quiet place to sit and relax.

The idea is still in its early stages, but chances are that restaurant operators will soon have even more places at O’Hare selling alcohol to needy passengers.

[Image from Flickr: pfala]