The national political journal Politico has just published a major story promoting the merits of transit-oriented-development — encouraging housing developments with limited parking near rail lines — that is largely built around how the idea is playing out here in Evanston.

The story, with the overwrought headline “The suburb that tried to kill the car,” is accompanied by dramatic photos of Evanston and Chicago along the route of the Purple Line.

It retells the well-worn story of Evanston’s struggle to revive from the loss of retail business to Old Orchard and od corporate headquarters and industrial firms to towns along the Interstate highway system — and reframes it around the car-free theme.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Death of the car ? Hardly
    It would be a surprise to many to find the car is really dead in Evanston.
    First of all is the fault of the people who could easily take public transportation or walk/bike, and not the system but the city and system [CTA] has failed—Metra however is great but is and is going to get more and more expensive—the cities and state want to subsidize the cars not mass transportation.
    Look at the streets and all the cars every day. Look at all the cars driving to NU and the hospital—I know some of the people and they are a block from the CTA bus. Look at all the cars in the downtown area [oddly the [some/all ?] parking garages say they are well below capacity] and how empty most of the CTA buses are. People want branch libraries even though many live well within walking/biking distance from EPL or could take the CTA easily.
    The CTA buses use to cover the city pretty well but no more. Look at the big lot stores on the west side [Ridge to McCormick] from Howard to Main. There use to be a bus that would take you to Main and McCormick—no more. And to get to Target or the others requires at least one bus transfer—and lots of time; yet that is where a lot of shopping [could] take place. Now if you live close to the Red Line, it is easier to take the train to Target at Wilson.
    And then there is the ‘Evanston Express’—what a joke. It creeps all the way to downtown Chicago and now makes every stop from Wilson south. Remember when it went from Howard to the Mart ? It now takes a hour from Central to Lake street in Chicago—no wonder the CTA is in trouble. I’d say Evanston could encourage more use of the CTA by putting in parking lots [like Old Orchard] where drivers switch to the 201—but then the CTA is so poor that even those on the Red line route have given up on it and will walk past the CTA to get to the Metra—many east of Ridge will go right past the Central CTA to get to the Metra even when their office is closer to the Red line. [Wilmette is the same. A friend lives one block from the Linden stop and his office in Chicago is next to the CTA stop—but he walks to the Metra instead no matter what the weather. Then there are those who drive to the Loop even though they are only blocks from the CTA on both ends.
    The issues are bigger than Evanston but much more could be done. The CTA routes [and speed], funding for roads, low gas taxes [including covering the cost of pollution generated] over public transportation and people being too lazy to walk or bike even within Evanston.

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