Chicago Transit Adventures

Transportation Camp and a not alone SSL trip home

I have my adventure with the door to the bike car, not quite platforming as I arrive and then start bike riding down Roosevelt Road with the unique crosswalk/bike line towards the UIC Student Center on Halstead Street.


I ride over the Railroad yards and turn north towards Halstead Street to get to the student center but find my self stuck, by streets split into two by the wide Dan Ryan Express. This takes me slightly out of my way, but I arrive, lock my bike up tight for the day, and head inside in the middle of Transportation Camp introductions.

The inaugural Transportation Camp Chicago is a unique event that feels much less scholarly than the other Transportation Camp New Yorks and Boston’s I’ve been too. It feels much more of a train buffs, “Let’s Talk Trains” event. There is an interesting introduction presentation on the new dockless bike share pilot in a couple extreme South Side Chicago neighborhoods, which I spend a lot of time talking in because we have LimeBike already in South Bend and have had it since last Summer. I attend a discussion on why the Nashville Transit referendum failed, right-leaning anti-transit funding money, proposals for the O’Hare Express Train/hyperloop, a presentation on Detroit’s Modern Streetcar, and finally a discussion of the O’Hare Express/Hyperloop proposals. The entire event feels a bit disorganized and keeps not fully following the normal propose your own session script. The sessions feel haphazardly put together without a clear session leader. I am not surprised to find out that none of the organizers have attended a Transportation Camp event before and have basically just planned this event hearing about the principals from other camps.

The camp cancels the last session and ends with a few fun rounds of Cards Against Urbanity, Young Professionals in Transportation Edition instead, so I have a bit of social time since I don’t feel like taking the final South Shore Line train that gets me in at 1:00am. I tie myself away from the fun at 6:00pm, head down to by still in one piece bicycle and am on by bike by 6:10. I ride down Harrison Street this time, a much more pleasant ride. I get some decent photos of LaSalle Street Station(3 Photos) as I ride by.


I realize I have a moment as I approach Grant Park to refill my water bottle at a water fountain. I then arrive at Museum Campus(8 Photos). My train comes in at 6:28, I get some photos and have the driver wave at me and verbally say from his cab to “Walk Down” to the very front of the platform where the bike car is.


I board the bike car and there are two other bikes on the bike rack that I put my bike near.

The ride back is largely uneventful and I don’t take nearly as detailed notes as I did for this morning’s ride. We do curve off the South Shore Line at 6:52 heading onto the South Shore’s unique independent trackage.

I get a few photos of the train going through Gary as the sun starts going down of the historic locomotive and courthouse.

In Dune Park, the other two bikes get off, wheeled off my only one owner. This is in conflict I believe with most transit systems bike policies that require one rider per bicycle. The South Shore Line’s easy to use bike racks really don’t effect this so much, and she can wheel both bikes together at once.

As we go through Michigan City I see passengers walking up front towards my car. This is standard South Shore Line practice so they can close up the rear of the train beyond Michigan City for South Bend’s very short 3 car platform, or even dump cars in Michigan City, leaving them behind. I’ve never been on an Westbound Train where they add cars though. At this point the sun has nearly fully set as we slowly go down 11th Street.

We reach Carroll Avenue 5 minutes early at 8:07pm and I hope we get through this stop with the South Shore Line shops efficiently. The train’s crew changes (this train becomes the 10:16pm final Westbound train back to Chicago of the night) and I hear the dumping of air, since we’re clearly dumping some cars off and leaving them behind, this is a relatively slow process, but we leave Carroll Avenue again at 8:14pm CT. I wish that Amtrak’s didn’t charge $20 extra dollars to use the Capitol Limited’s Bike car, I would have left Transportation Camp at the same time and have been home by now. This is how trips often occur now, the South Shore into town (to avoid Amtrak delays) and Amtrak back to South Bend since it normally leaves Chicago on time.

It’s then a final ride through the night, with me deciding I’m too tired to read and listen to music instead, the track work is definately making the ride a bit slower. We arrive at the South Bend Airport at 10:03pm as a 3 car train, instead of a 7 or 8 car train, about 10 minutes late. I put the lights on my bicycle and ride down Lincolnway home into the night. I’m home by 10:15pm.