, o n n 3
o/ an Address to the
IRISH FELLOWSHIP CLUB
March 2nd, 1912
MR. JOHN ERICSON
Chairman of the
Harbor and Subway Commission
SEP 24 1915
TRANSPORTATION OF TO-DAY.
Chicago has an extensive system of surface lines, and
also of elevated roads.
The surface lines, under present conditions, have to
serve a dual purpose, i. e., to provide local traffic in all parts
of the city, and to serve as substitutes for long distance
transit as well. For long hauls in a populous city, where
operated on streets in built up parts, the surface lines cannot
now, and never will, give rapid transit, such as modern condi-
tions call for. Notwithstanding our present unsatisfactory
rapid transit service on the elevated roads, from 50 to 70 per
cent longer time is required to reach the border of the con-
gested district from outlying sections, even by modern
surface cars, operated on reconstructed smooth tracks, than
on the elevated trains.
SURFACE LINES AS FEEDERS.
The functions of the surface lines are local traffic, and to
serve as feeders for the rapid transit lines.
Our elevated road systems, under present conditions,
cannot develop either their full speed or their carrying capac-
To illustrate: Local transportation in a city may be
compared with the blood circulation in an animal body. If
the blood circulation is affected, or faulty, through congestion
or otherwise, the body immediately suffers. Vitality is im-
paired, and, if relief is not obtained, conditions get worse and
general decline is sure to follow.
If the heart is affected, the entire circulation is impaired,
and the whole body suffers. If circulation to any particular
member is affected, this member suffers.
So with transportation circulation in a city. If this cir-
culation is healthy, and unobstructed, the community grows
and prospers ; if transportation facilities are inadequate and
congested, and circulation sluggish, the community suffers a
commercial setback; its growth and prosperity are impeded.
UNION LOOP* CONGESTION.
The heart regulating the. traffic circulation of our ele-
vated roads is the Union Loop. On this two-track loop
structure, with its many grade crossings, stations and curves,
nearly all the trains of all the roads enter. During rush
hours there is a great congestion. The movement of trains
is slow and irregular. The capacity of the various roads,
therefore, is greatly reduced. This necessitates the operation
of great numbers of surface cars into the central district to
accommodate the traffic, that cannot be handled on the ele-
This again causes congestion of surface traffic in the
Loop district, especially during rush hours.
NEW YORK'S SUBWAYS.
New York, with its extensive systems of surface and
elevated lines, some years ago found it necessary to increase
the transportation facilities by constructing an extensive
system of subways. In the latter alone there are now trans-
ported nearly one million persons per day. These subways
have served the purpose so well that, in order to meet further
transportation demands, still larger systems are now under
construction, and in contemplation, involving an expenditure
of several hundred millions of dollars.
Traffic in the New York subways has increased 280.5 per
cent since 1905, when they were first put into service, or from
72,722,000 rides in 1905 to 276,705,000 in 1911.
AVERAGE SPEED IN SUBWAYS.
The speed obtained in the New York subways, from
Ninety-sixth street to the Brooklyn Bridge, including all
stops, is between 25 and 26 miles an hour, and this can be in-
creased when conditions at the Grand Central Station, which
is the governing point, shall have been improved.
In Chicago we obtain an average speed, on the South
Side Elevated Railroad, from Forty-third to Congress street,
including stops, of about 17 miles per hour, and on the North-
western Elevated, from Wilson avenue to Lake street, of
about 18 miles per hour, or less than 75 per cent, of the
speed obtained in New York.
YEARLY RIDES PER CAPITA.
Government statistics show that the average number of
rides that a person takes each year on urban transportation
lines increases with the city's growth. In a city with a popu-
lation of 25,000 or less the average number of rides per year
by each person is 68. In cities with from 25,000 to 100,000
inhabitants the average number of rides per year by each
person is 108.
In cities of from 100,000 to 300,000 the average number
of rides per capita is 185.
In cities of 500,000 inhabitants and somewhat over, the
average number of rides per year, by each person, is 239.
In New York the situation is actually as follows :
Year. Population. Rides per Capita.
1903 3,775,123 265.0
1905 4,000.403 282.7*
1907 4,306,995 305.4
1910 4,766,883 320.9
Chicago in 1880 had a population of about 500,000
" 1890 " " " " " 1,100,000
" 1900 " " " " " 1,700,000
" 1910 " " " li " 2,200,000
If we assume that the increase in the future will be at
the same rate, we can expect in 1920 a population of 2,800,000
and in 1930 a population of 3,500,000.
The number of rides per capita on local transportation
lines of the City of Chicago, according to available statis-
tics, has been as follows :
Year. Population. Rides per Capita.
1900 1,700,000 200
1905 1,940,000 229
1910 2,200,000 300
In this is not included suburban traffic on steam or elec-
tric roads, which is at the rate of about 20 rides per capita.
EXPANSION OF FACILITIES NEEDED.
That immediate transportation betterments are required
in Chicago must be apparent to all who have to avail them-
selves of the local facilities we now have.
The City's prospective growth in population, and with it
*First year of Subway.
the tendency to an increase in the number of rides per capita,
calls for further planning in order to prevent a stunting of
TEMPOEAEY BELIEF MEASURES.
The following means for immediate relief may be con-
First. Consolidation of all local transportation systems.
If all local transportation facilities were under one man-
agement, the service would be better and more economical.
This also implies transfers from any one part of the city to
any other part.
Second. Increase in the capacity of the present system of
elevated roads, pending the construction of subways.
This would involve the following changes in Union Loop
First — Through routing of trains.
Second — Relocation of stations and changes in platforms.
Third — Grade separation.
Each of these steps would to some extent increase
capacity and relieve congestion, of the elevated roads. It
has been estimated that these three steps combined would in-
crease the capacity from 50 to 130 per cent. An average of
these two extremes is what might be expected.
Even if the people of Chicago should consent to a con-
tinuance of this ugly and noisy elevated structure, in the
downtown district, and should permit these alterations, such
permission should be withheld until the legality of the loop
franchise has been settled, or until a proposed new consolida-
tion ordinance, embracing the use by elevated roads of munic-
ipal subways, has been passed and ratified.
Some changes in the operation and routing of surface
cars, now being considered by the Local Transportation Com-
mittee, would also partially relieve the situation. Without
subways, however, only temporary relief is possible. The
same situation, that of inadequate transportation facilities,
would again follow those measures of temporary relief.
RAPID TRANSIT SUBWAYS.
Subways have solved the transportation problem in
other large cities. They are believed to be the solution of this
problem in Chicago.
With an extensive system of elevated roads, incapable of
developing more than a fraction of its capacity, the first logi-
cal step is to increase this capacity to a maximum. This can
be done by passenger subways through the congested Loop
The financial limitation imposed on the Harbor and Sub-
way Commission, namely an expenditure for subways not to
exceed ten or twelve million dollars, from the so-called " trac-
tion fund,'' and its increment, during three or four years of
subway construction, made it necessary for us to confine our
efforts to such a comparatively small system. Preliminary
plans for such a system of Subways were submitted to the
City Council Committee on Local Transportation on October
One system of Subways was designed to relieve the con-
gestion on the Union Loop, and increase the capacity of the
A system to relieve surface car congestion in the Loop
district was also outlined.
Considering first the subways for use by the consolidated
elevated roads, the proposed routes are as follows :
This route connects the Northwestern Elevated Railway
with the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway by a
double track subway from Wells and Kinzie streets to Halsted
and Pearce streets. By incline, open approach and subway,
the tracks, from Wells street, are carried east in North Water
street to a river tunnel at State street; ascending on the south
side of the river in State street they pass under the subway
of the South-Northwest Route at Randolph street. South of
Randolph street they rise to the high level, holding this level
south in State street to Harrison street and west in Harrison
street to La Salle street, where they descend to a river tunnel
at Harrison street. West of the river they rise to a portal at
Harrison and Desplaines streets, thence by open approach and
incline on private right of way to a connection with the
Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway, Halsted and
This route connects the South Side Elevated Railway
with the Oak Park Elevated Railway by a double-track sub-
way from private right of way between State street and
Wabash avenue near Fourteenth street to Green and Lake
streets. By incline and open approach the tracks are carried
north from Fourteenth street, on private right of way, to a
subway portal on the north side of Twelfth street, northwest
across Twelfth street to State street, thence north in State
street to Eandolph street, west in Randolph street to La
Salle street, where they descend to a river tunnel at Eandolph
street. West of the river they rise to Desplaines street,
thence, by open approach and inclines and elevated structure,
they are carried across Halsted street and north in Green
street to a connection with the Oak Park Elevated Railway.
APPROACHES AND STATIONS.
The approaches connecting subways and the elevated
structures as shown may be changed to meet conditions with-
out any serious interference with the general scheme.
Stations have been laid out for estimating purposes, but
are not shown on the plans.
Transfer stations can be located along State street. Sta-
tions of sufficient capacity to take care of all other traffic can
be located at other places along the proposed routes.
THROUGH-ROUTE EXPRESS SERVICE.
With this system built, the express trains of the Metro-
politan Elevated Railway can enter the subway and continue
on the express tracks of the Northwestern. The Oak Park
Elevated Railroad, which should receive on its tracks the
Humboldt Park and Logan Square branches of the Metropol-
itan, can send its express trains in the Northwest-South
branch of the subway and continue on the express tracks of
the South Side Elevated road.
In this manner, the four great divisions of the city would
be connected by arteries of rapid transportation, traversing
same and passing through the central district. Such divisions
as cannot be conveniently and economically connected by
crosstown or other routes would be provided with through
route service. Since from 70 to 80 per cent, of passengers
using the elevated roads make the central district their des-
tination, the routes must necessarily pass through the same in
order that these passengers may be accommodated and the
undertaking made a paying proposition.
LOCAL TRAFFIC. -.
There are still the local trains to consider. Of course, if
the elevated Loop remains the local trains could use the Loop
as before. To remove the Loop, and yet develop full capacity
of the local tracks, the Commission suggests that, for in-
stance, the tracks of the Oak Park Line, in Fifth avenue, be
connected with the tracks of the stub-terminal in Market
street, forming a minor loop, in which case the full capacity of
these local tracks can be developed. The same can be done
with the local trains of the Metropolitan road. There would
be required a short connection between the main tracks and
the stub-terminal in Franklin street permitting the trains,
coming in on Van Buren street, to go to the present stub-
terminal in Franklin street and return by means of the loop
thus formed. By making a short connection in Congress
street, the South Side Elevated Eoad locals would be taken
care of. A track in Clark street connecting the Fifth avenue
line with the stub-terminal on North Water street would de-
velop full capacity of the Northwestern local tracks. These
arrangements, of course, would involve the construction of
some additional tracks for local trains, so that local traffic
would not interfere with traffic on the express tracks.
The combined capacities of all the elevated roads, with
present facilities, during rush hours, in cars entering or leav-
ing the central district are: "Loop" 622 cars, and stub-ter-
minals 293 cars per hour. This makes a total capacity of 915
cars per hour, entering or leaving the central district.
With express trains of the various elevated roads routed
through the subways, instead of on the Union Loop, the capac-
ity of these elevated roads would be increased to 1,600 cars per
hour on express tracks, and to 1,600 cars per hour on local
tracks, rearranged to form small loops as described, or to a
total of 3,200 cars per hour as against the present 915, an in-
crease of 250 per cent.
UNION LOOP UNNECESSARY.
It has been suggested that the Fifth avenue and the Van
Buren street legs of the Union Loop be retained for use of
local trains. This arrangement would have some advantages
and some disadvantages. It would permit through routing of
local trains from one to any other division of the city on the
elevated structures. On the other hand, if universal through
routing of trains from the several branches of one road to
each branch of the other elevated roads, by means of these
two tracks or legs, would be desired, the multiplicity of cars,
representing the different lines, would cause exasperating de-
lays and confusion at the stations. By through routing only
trunk line trains, from one division to any other, and by re-
taining shuttle trains and transfers, there would be less ob-
jectionable operation under this arrangement.
It is not necessary .to retain any part of the Union Loop.
A greater capacity of this system can be obtained without it.
ESTIMATED COST OF SUBWAYS.
The estimated cost of this system of subways for elevated
trains, including subways, paving, stations complete, three
two-track river tunnels, protection to buildings, sewers and
water systems, engineering and contingencies, but exclusive
of trackage and electrical installation, is $9,812,000. Consid-
ering, however, the necessary changes and additions to the
elevated structures, suitable rolling stock for subway service,
additional electrical equipment, etc., an estimated expenditure
by the operating company of some $35,000,000, in addition to
the cost of subways, would be required.
RAPID TRANSIT NECESSARY.
Chicago, to become a real metropolis, needs up-to-date
transit facilities giving not only required capacity for both
the present and the future, but the greatest speed consistent
with safety that science will permit.
The factors in real rapid transit are :
1 — High speed and comfort.
2 — Close headway.
3 — Reliability and regularity of service.
4 — Uniform schedules.
5 — Proper distribution of stations.
Persons living 10 or 12 miles, or even further, away from
the city's center should be able to reach their places of busi-
ness there in the morning and return in the evening, without
spending more than iy 2 hours per day in traveling both ways,
even when located some distance from the rapid transit line.
INDEPENDENT SUBWAY SYSTEM.
Irrespective of present facilities for transportation, even
after being improved to maximum possible capacity, and not-
withstanding that the present financial limitation does not
permit it, Chicago, in the near future, will need an extensive
and modern rapid transit system, that will traverse and inter-
connect the various sections of the city.
Elevated roads, while less expensive in first cost, are ob-
jectionable, especially in well-built-up districts. They are
noisy and unsightly. They obstruct light and interfere with
free use of the street. At certain seasons weather conditions
interfere with regularity of service. Additional, modern rapid
transit facilities for this city, therefore, should consist of sub-
On February 21 plans were presented, by the Harbor
and Subway Commission, to the Local Transportation Com-
mittee outlining such a system, reaching out through the
various city divisions, on the north to Lawrence avenue, on
the south to Sixty-third street, on the southwest and on the
northwest to Fortieth avenue.
PLANS FOR CITY'S SUBWAYS.
These plans contemplate four-track subways (two tracks
for express service and two tracks for local service). When
approaching the congested district, the express and local
service trains would be diverted to separate subways to meet
physical and operating conditions.
Such parts of the proposed independent subways as are
located in the congested district, and intended for express
service, are exactly the same as the proposed routes for initial
subways, to be used in connection with the present elevated
The estimated combined capacity of this independent
subway system is 160,000 seats per hour. The estimated
cost of these subways, including stations, is $57,400,000.
The necessary trackage, electrical equipment, rolling
stock, etc., to furnish a complete system, ready for operation,
will require an additional expenditure by the operating com-
pany of some $45,600,000.
INITIAL SUBWAYS FIT EITHER PLAN.
The purpose of presenting this latest plan at this time is
First. To show that initial subways through the congested
district, as suggested, will form a link, not only in an in-
dependent subway system, but will fit into a subway system
for the accommodation of the present elevated roads. There-
fore, whether satisfactory arrangements with present trans-
portation companies to use such subways are made or not,
the necessity for immediate consideration of initial subways
still remains. Should these initial subways be constructed,
and utilized by the elevated roads, additional future subways
could be built through, and adjacent to, the congested
Second. To furnish some idea as to the comparative capi-
talization of an independent subway system and a system of
combined elevated roads and subways as outlined.
On account of the large expense for modern subway
rolling stock, additional electrical equipment, additional
trackage, etc., in addition to the cost of subway construction,
that would be required to bring the present elevated road sys-
tem to a capacity equivalent to the capacity of the proposed
independent subway system, it is my belief that the latter,
with an equal number of miles of single track, would not
represent any larger capital investment than! that of the
CHICAGO AND NEW YORK.
The question is this, however:
When will the traffic in Chicago warrant such large ex-
penditures for a transportation system in addition to our
The same question was raised in New York when sub-
ways were under consideration there.
NEW YORK TRAFFIC STATISTICS.
Now York's statistics show that, irrespective of the great
additional means of transportation provided by subways,
traffic on the elevated roads has increased from 266,382,000
in 1905, when trains through subways were first operated, to
about 300,000,000 in 1911. Traffic on the surface lines has
increased from 374,554,000 in 1905 to 427,000,000 in 1911 in
the borough of Manhattan, and from 37,125,000 in 1905 to
84,000,000 in 1911 in the borough of Bronx— the two
boroughs through which the subway trains operate. In those
years traffic in the subways also increased 280.5 per cent, as
FACILITIES CREATE TRAFFIC.
These increases would undoubtedly have been still greater
if more capacity could have been provided.
If this is the case in New York, why would it not be so in
Either we will have to admit this or quit boasting that
our city before very long will be the greatest in the country.
If New York, with a debt of over one thousand millions of
dollars, can find a way to adequately meet requirements for
modern transportation, why cannot Chicago, with a debt of
only about fifty millions, do so?
SURFACE CAR SUBWAYS.
The Harbor and Subway Commission has also outlined
tentative possible routes for surface car subways, through
the congested district.
. Like the proposed subways for rapid transit, these sur-
face car subways are also projected so that cars from the
Northwest Division would be routed to the South Division
through the congested district, from the Southwest Division
to the North Division, and vice versa. The river tunnels at
Washington and La Salle streets would be used in connection
with these subways. A city ordinance provides that these
tunnels shall become the city's property upon payment to
the Chicago Railways Company, by the city, of actual cost,
plus 5 per cent. If arrangements were made with said com-
pany for use of the Van Buren Street tunnel, the surface car
subway could connect therewith. Otherwise a new river tun-
nel, on the line of Jackson boulevard, would be necessary.
The estimated cost of this surface car subway system, in-
cluding stations and three river tunnels, but exclusive of
equipment, is $9,328,000.
SURFACE CAR CAPACITIES.
The capacity of the present surface track system in the
downtown district, according to transportation experts and
officials, is 1,037 cars per hour, entering or leaving this dis-
trict. It is estimated that by rearrangement of loops and by
some other traffic regulation this capacity can be increased to
1,300 cars per hour.
The surface car subways here outlined are estimated to
furnish capacity, for the movement of cars through the same,
of 720 per hour as a maximum. This would increase the total
capacity of surface car service, over and above the capacity
that can be obtained without subways, by only 55 per cent.
As the proper function of surface car systems is to trans-
port people from the immediate vicinity of their homes to
the nearest rapid transit station, and to accommodate local
traffic in all parts of the city, the necessity for running great
numbers of surface cars, from all outlying districts, into the
congested -central district would cease, if the city were pro-
vided with adequate rapid transit facilities.
Since numerous cars from nearly all city districts now
enter the congested district, the number of districts that would
be served by such proposed surface car subways would either
be very limited, owing to meager capacity, or else only a few
cars from each district could be routed through the subway.
Either plan would cause much delay and confusion at subway
MORE VALUE IN RAPID TRANSIT SUBWAYS.
The wisdom of expending nearly as large a sum of money
for surface car subways as is required to build subways for
use of the elevated roads, may well be questioned. Such a
sum might be expended to better advantage for real rapid
Surface car subways are nowadays constructed in ex-
ceptional cases only. No surface car subways have been con-
structed in New York, nor are there any contemplated.
Boston, the pioneer American city in subway construc-
tion, had a special problem to deal with. There were no ob-
structions to the free movement of elevated trains. The con-
gestion of surface cars on Tremont street, by lack of adequate
rapid transit facilities, and owing to the uniformly narrow
and tortuous streets of the city, was so great that a subway
Elevated trains were later routed through this subway,
but its construction was such that this service had to be
abandoned and a new subway constructed for their accommo-
dation. I am reliably informed that no more surface car
subways will be constructed in Boston.
TEMPORARY SURFACE CAR SUBWAY IN HALSTED
There is proposed a future rapid transit subway in Hal-
sted street. I am of the opinion that the traffic conditions in
this thoroughfare at present are exceptional, and require a
subway from about Chicago avenue on the north to Twelfth
street on the south, for the accommodation of surface cars.
This would greatly relieve traffic congestion in this street.
Such a subway, with stations, but exclusive of equipment, is
estimated to cost $3,500,000. If constructed, this subway
should later be incorporated in the proposed future rapid
transit subway extending- farther north and south in the same
EFFECT OF SUBWAYS ON TRAFFIC.
The estimated effect on traffic of the first proposed step in
subway construction, for the use of elevated roads, would be
an increase in carrying capacity of these elevated lines from
915 to 3,200 cars, or from 45,750 to 160,000 seats per hour, an
estimated increase of 250 per cent, as already shown.
Such a substantial increase, with added speed obtainable
by a free movement of trains through the congested district,
and other improvements in the elevated road system, would
considerably relieve the traffic on surface lines. Fewer sur-
face cars would be required to reach the downtown district,
thus relieving traffic congestion there.
The independent system of subways would also have
a capacity of 160,000 seats per hour, which, of course, would
be in addition to the capacity of existing traction systems.
It has been said that such an independent system would
serve only territory immediately adjacent, if there were no
transfers from surface cars to subways.
The average haul of each passenger using elevated roads
in Chicago is estimated at 4% miles.
The estimated average haul of each passenger on surface
car systems is from 3% to 4 miles, or nearly equal to that of
the elevated roads.
Considering the present long trips of surface cars ana
abnormally great dead mileage, also that the average haul
per passenger as well as dead mileage would be greatly re-
duced, with subways in operation, the saving in operating
expenses on the surface car system could be applied to the
cost of subway service, thus warranting transfers from one
system to the other, whether under one ownership or not.
EFFECT OF SUBWAYS ON REAL ESTATE.
The effect that passenger subways may have on real
estate is perhaps best illustrated by New York's experience.
The City Club of New York, after a thorough investiga-
tion of the increase in real estate values, before and after
the building of subways, reported in 1908 that in the borough
of Manhattan "the aggregate rise in land from 135th street
to Spuyten Duyvil was about $69,300,000. If an estimated
normal rise of $20,100,000, based upon the rise of the previous
seven years, be subtracted from this, it leaves a rise of about
$49,200,000 apparently due to the building of subways."
As regards the effect on land values in the borough of
Bronx, the same report says: "The aggregate increase in
land values (of a district extending about a half mile either
side of the subway) due to the building of the subway and in
excess of a normal rise of $13,500,000, was about $31,300,-
"The property benefited in the districts above noted could
have paid the entire cost of subways and yet have had a net
profit due solely to their construction and operation of over
$37,500,000. Had it paid only for the portion running through
its own territory, there would have remained a profit of
EFFECT OF SUBWAYS ON BUSINESS IN OUTLYING
There is some opposition to subways based on the claim
that they injure business conditions in outlying districts.
That subways, with consequent rapid transit, will greatly
stimulate business conditions and prospects in outlying dis-
tricts instead of injuring them, is too apparent to require
The prosperous business districts in the outlying parts of
our city owe their development principally to transportation
The remarkable increase in surface car traffic in the
borough of Bronx, New York, amounting to 138 per cent
in five years, after subway service had been extended to this
section, is an indication of the effect of rapid transit on
There are some who would sacrifice the welfare of the en-
tire community rather than see any action taken whereby
some section of the city would profit more than the one in
which they live and own property.
I believe that the objectors to these much-needed trans-
portation betterments are greatly in the minority, and their
attitude should be changed. If not, they ahould be ignored
by all citizens who have our city's welfare at, heart.