May 26, 2009

CTA Tattler now can be found at ChicagoNow.com

As I noted recently, I'm blogging now at the Trib's ChicagoNow site. Below is a feed from there. Click and find me at my new home

Update: The Tattler is cruisin' to ChicagoNow with the Trib

It's Moving Day at CTA Tattler. We're moving to ChicagoNow, a network of blogs hosted by the Chicago Tribune. From now on, you'll find fresh news and notes from CTA Tattler here. Read today's post: Transit riders three times more fit than drivers.

In June we will celebrate our fifth anniversary of writing about all thing seen and heard on the CTA. It's been a great ride, and now we have the opportunity to expand our reach at a fabulous new location. And you can devour lots of terrific new and established blogs. Plus, I finally get a chance to make a couple of bucks for my tireless toil for you, dear readers. (You didn't really think I made much from those Google ads, did you?)

So it's a win-win for everyone! You want sports blogs? ChicagoNow's got 'em. Black Jack (McDowell) on the White Sox; A League of Her Own on the Cubs; and Da Bears Blog. Then there's Arresting Tales from a veteran cop, and the Parking Ticket Geek. Like sex? How about Sex and the Windy City or What's a Boy to Do? And plenty more.

Most important -- nothing will change at CTA Tattler besides our address. I will continue to write what I want with no interference from the Tribune. You will have to register once on the new site in order to comment.

So, get on over there, register, and join the moving party at my new house. You don't even have to lift any furniture. Just continue to enjoy the virtual pizza and beer. And everything CTA. Cheers!

-- Kevin O'Neil

The Tattler is cruisin' to ChicagoNow with the Trib

It's Moving Day at CTA Tattler. We're moving to ChicagoNow, a network of blogs hosted by the Chicago Tribune. From now on, you'll find fresh news and notes from CTA Tattler here.

Check back here around noon or so for more details. We're still moving furniture at the new site so we're not quite live yet. Thanks for your patience.

May 22, 2009

Weekend work: A Blue Line "ditto"

Just read last week's report on the weekend Blue Line work and say "ditto." Only change the dates and we still have the Blue Line closed from 10 pm Friday till 4 am Monday for slow zone work from Grand to Western. Shuttles will be in place.

I guess they wanted to let the workers take off Memorial Day. And no doubt couldn't pay anymore overtime.

Sunday's Bike the Drive also wreaks havoc with a number of bus routes, of course. Details here on other weekend service changes.

Have a great holiday weekend. I expect to see folks lugging bags of charcoal and cases of beer on the CTA this Friday and over the weekend.

May 21, 2009

News pickup: CTA complaints; passengers falling on tracks

Here's a roundup of interesting CTA stuff in the news recently.

Complaints down; but don't pass us up! The Tribune notes that while overall passenger complaints are down this year, bus drivers who don't stop for passengers accounted for the most common complaint -- 468 of them in the first quarter of the year. (UC in a comment notes that the comparison period was not the same.) On the flip side, the CTA got almost 400 commendations for employees in the same time frame. Detailed performance metrics are here.

Complaints from disabled passengers investigated. A CBS2 probe found 930 complaints from 2005 to 2008  about buses and drivers under the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Four hundred and eighteen of those complaints were about lifts and ramps. There also were 198 complaints of drivers never bothering to stop even when there's plenty of room on the bus." A CTA vice president has "high hopes" for improvement next year.

A rash of passengers falling on tracks. Two passengers fell on tracks at the Red Line and Blue Line in the last two days. Miraculously, neither passenger was killed, especially the guy hit by a train. And it makes me wonder how frequently this happens. I noticed that the goroo.com service alerts I get on the Red Line notified me of the "medical emergency" and rail service suspension not long after the incident.

May 20, 2009

"This is only a test!" Emergency exercise to shut Washington Blue Line stop, nearby bus routes

Do not be alarmed! And for gosh sakes, do not self-evacuate!

As part of a emergency preparedness exercise, the CTA will close the Washington Blue Line station from 9:30 pm Wednesday (May 20) till 5:30 am Thursday. Eight bus routes also will be detoured in the area of the emergency test -- Washington Street between Clark and State, and Dearborn Street between Randolph and Madison. That area also will be shut at the same time to traffic and pedestrians.

Blue Line trains will continue to run through the area, but bypass Washington station during that time.

Certainly the Blue Line tunnel has been the focus of various real CTA emergencies in recent years. But this one will be for "simulation purposes only." We could all use the practice.

Click on the continuation for bus routes affected.

Continue reading ""This is only a test!" Emergency exercise to shut Washington Blue Line stop, nearby bus routes" È

May 19, 2009

CTA I-Go smart card earns Chicago Fast Cities nod

The I-Go and CTA smart card partnership was given a big thumbs up this month by Fast Company magazine as "almost too simple":

The Smart Card is Chicago-based nonprofit I-Go Car Sharing's idea to extend public transportation to include public cars. According to a recent study, most cars in Chicago -- Fast Company's 2008 City of the Year -- sit parked 95% of the time. "We have to make better use of our assets," says I-Go CEO Sharon Feigon. "We want to integrate the public-transit systems and car sharing any way we can, and sharing one card is a good way to demonstrate that these different ideas are linked."

Meanwhile, the CTA also is expanding its partnership with Zipcar, an I-Go competitor. It is adding cars to four more CTA locations -- one on the Brown Line and three on the Blue Line. Details here.

This is good public policy, and great for the environment.

Sign up for Bus Tracker email notifications. Sign-up began Monday for folks who want email notifications of predicted arrival times for your favorite bus routes. Go to the Bus Tracker home page and follow sign-up links.

May 18, 2009

CTA avoids fare hikes by using capital funds to balance budget

The CTA will transfer almost $129 million in cash originally earmarked for station fixups and new buses to help fill $155 million budget hole this year.

CTA officials laid out these details for the agency's board at last week's meeting:

  • Reduce the injuries and damages reserve fund: $10 million
  • Savings on labor costs: $3.8 million
  • Savings on fuel and power expense: 1.5 million
  • Transfer to preventive maintenance from capital: $128.6 million
  • Additional RTA funding: $8 million
  • CTA sale-leaseback funds: $2.8 million

CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown also expressed her displeasure with the RTA upon learning that the $56.1 million promised by RTA last month to retire the 2008 deficit would have to be repaid. The CTA originally was told it would be a grant, not a loan. The CTA has until 2011 to repay it.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez warned that fare increased and/or service cuts are still possible for 2010 and 2011, the Sun-Times reported:

"It’s not as if we can completely rule out fare increases and service reductions,” Rodriguez told the CTA board Wednesday. “We are aggressively looking at ... other ways to tighten the belt.”

Ridership still up over last year. There was some good news at the meeting. Ridership remains strong this year over last year, with a 2.5% increase systemwide. Rail ridership is up 4.8% year-to-date, with Brown Line riders causing the biggest jump at 12.2%.

Previously

05/20/09

"This is only a test!" Emergency exercise to shut Washington Blue Line stop, nearby bus routes

05/19/09

CTA I-Go smart card earns Chicago Fast Cities nod

05/18/09

CTA avoids fare hikes by using capital funds to balance budget

05/15/09

Weekend woes: Blue Line shut from Grand to Western

05/14/09

Wringing extra life from a dying Chicago Card/Plus

05/13/09

Celling that makes you cringe; hockey Overheard

05/12/09

Newest Bus Tracker features: email and text alerts

05/12/09

Bus Tracker rollout: Fini

05/11/09

CTA responds to Blue Line slow zone questions

05/ 8/09

Escalator work to shut Harrison entrance for months; other weekend work

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