Tuesday, May 29, 2007
CTA has lots of nerve threatening me!
The president of the CTA just annouced that he would have to double fares and remove bus/ train routes if he doesn't get the money he's requesting from the state. He's trying to create panic with the ridership to pressure the politicians to approve the funding. As someone who takes the CTA everyday I think he has a lot of nerve.
First let me recognize that Chicago has a great transit system compared to some cities. I literally have a train and about 6 buslines that are close to my house. However having these different options does not mean that the CTA makes it easy to be a commuter. It often leaves you wishing you had a car.
I have virtually stopped taking the Red Line train downtown unless I am forced to. I used to take it every day but now I just can't take sitting or standing on that dirty, filthy train. There are half eaten food items on the floor, wrappers, Peanut/Sunflower shells etc and it often reeks of urine. Sometimes the train has no air and is stifling hot as well. It was so bad the last time I took the train I told my Alderman about it. No one should be stuffed into an overcrowded train spelling of urine unless you are all on your way to the concentration camps.
I decided to take the bus lines instead. What's the problem with the buses? The inability of the CTA to get these buses on time or on any schedule whatsoever. They said they were going to let riders be able to track buses on their laptops soon and my resonse is "just make them on time and people won't wonder where they are!!!" In the past couple weekends I have had the following things happen - I have waited for a 147 express bus that took 45 minutes to arrive on Michigan Ave, I waited for a 151 bus that never showed up even after waiting a half hour. Now these things happened on the weekend - not at rush hour and not even the weekdays. This should be their "easy time" but it's not. (The weekdays during work hours should be better as well but alas the buses are still late)
In the mornings the buses are not spaced out correctly so we get the "full bus/empty bus" syndrome. The first bus arrives and people are packed into it. When I say packed I mean standing and jammed in with their faces pressed against the front window. Then the second bus comes a couple minutes later and its virtually empty. This means that the first bus is obviously late or there wouldn't be that many people waiting. I know things are real bad when I go to the bus stop and there is a crowd waiting.
I usually wait for the second empty bus and laugh at my fellow commuters. I do, however, understand their dilemma. They have to get to work and not be late. They may skip that bus and the next one could be equally crowded or not show up for 20 or more minutes. You just never know what's going to happen. One time the bus was so late I walked to the train and took it instead. Of couse then the train was delayed for about 30 minutes that day and I got to work late and it didn't look good. A gamble did not pay off in that choice but you never know. (Some bus lines are worse that others - I have hardly ever waited for a 36 Broadway bus in Lakeview where I didn't wait 30 minutes and have 2 arrive at the same time)
The drivers and employees of the CTA are usually not helpful in these situations. I have seen bus drivers be rude and nasty to riders asking questions. I have seen them be unsympathetic towards riders who have been waiting long periods between buses. I had one even skip the stop I was standing at only to catch up with her by taking another bus - I asked her why she skipped all of us at the bus stop and she just shrugged her shoulders. This was in front of her supervisor who was as shocked as I was. Another one yelled at me for stepping over the yellow line at the front of the bus (a woman was standing in the way blocking my exit). The worst was a driver who was mad at people who kept pulling the stop cord before their stops. He stopped the bus and sat there to "teach us a lesson" to just pull it once. Yes there are nice drivers, some very helpful but I would say they are the exception to the rule. I'm sure servicing the public (and lots of crazies) takes a toll on you but a little kindness goes a long way.
So when I stand waiting 30 to 45 minutes for a bus to arrive and 2 of them come together. (or one so packed I can't get on it) I'm not thinking of how much money will arrive from Springfield. I'm thinking that the CTA really needs to get its act together.