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CTA launches revised "Comprehensive Customer Communications Plan"

At CTA Tattler's last Coffee with Ron Huberman, the Prez promised to make improved rider communication a top priority in 2009. Tuesday's announcement was a good step in that direction.

Huberman formally announced two new initiatives he told us about at the coffee -- the Planned Service Alerts and the Emergency Alerts service.

The Planned Service Alerts is an email service with info about just that -- planned service changes, such as weekend slow zone work, or bus route changes because of the Chicago Marathon. You can sign up now here.

The Emergency Alerts program aims to improve communications during emergencies. Something much needed."Customers will be able to sign up to receive e-mailed alerts regarding major delays or disruptions to service along their selected routes," says the release.

Other communications enhancements and features will debut next year. More on those later.

But after a month with no new routes on Bus Tracker, the CTA announced Tuesday that eight more buses will be added on Monday, Oct. 20:

  • #6 Jackson Park Express
  • #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick
  • #69 Cumberland/East River
  • #79 79th
  • #87 87th
  • #145 Wilson/Michigan Express
  • #151 Sheridan
  • #157 Streeterville

Let the whining begin about the Clark Street bus.

Comments

Can I whine about the Broadway bus instead? I'm almost positive they haven't added tracking technology to that route because doing so would uncover the fact that it couldn't run on an anything even remotely resembling a schedule of the drivers' lives depended on it. And I don't know why the 151 needs a tracker. There is ALWAYS a 151 or four coming.

Sorry. I guess I'm just grumpy because I haven't had my coffee yet this morning. I'm happy to see the 11 and the 145 on the list.

jenny, there are always 151s coming if all you're doing is riding south of Belmont.
There are in reality two different 151 bus routes.
The first is the main route, assigned from North Park which runs from Union Station to Clark/Devon. Then there is the second route which runs from Belmont/Halsted to Union Station.
So there are many more buses south of Belmont.

And yes the whining now starts about the lack of bus tracker for the 22.
Every single bus assigned to the 22 is a New Flyer!
I repeat, every single bus assigned to the 22 is a New Flyer!
There isn't any logical reason for it not to have bus tracking, except of course that it will make the CTA look like a bunch of liars when they claim it's running well!

The 151 north of Belmont is horrible. At least I can know if it is an option for me to take. now. I once counted 14 buses going northbound between Irving and Foster before a southbound bus came along. And this was on a weekend, not rush hour.

Yes. All the 151's go northbound. None go southbound. They're beaming the buses back to Union Station using teletransporters rather than driving them southbound along the route.

And when the CTA people aren't busy operating the transporter beams, they're conspiring to find ways to screw the riders of the 22 and 36.

How will they ever continue now that they've been outed here!

My world is now complete with the addition of the 11. As for the 22, it moves so slowly that it can generally be tracked the old-fashioned way, by peering down the street. It is a little curious that the 8, which suffers many of the same street congestion and bunching/gap issues as the 22 has been on tracker for a while, yet the 22 languishes.

I'll whine about the 22 and 36.

But adding the 151 bus tracker now makes it easier to time the all-important transfer between the 151 and 147 along Sheridan before getting to Foster, for those of us along Devon who are too lazy to walk over to Sheridan to catch the 147 and therefore take the 151 for a while instead, and then transfer.

I think all the routes that connect at Foster and Sheridan are now on the Bus Tracker which will be nice for lots of bus transfers, not just 151 and 147.

Bus-tracking issues aside, I'm encouraged that the Ron-man is doing something about communication, especially for emergencies.

Learn reading comprehension rusty! Oops, I mean Frank Kreusi!
No one wrote that there are more southbound buses south of Belmont!
We wrote that there are more buses SOUTH of Belmont!
That takes in buses going in both directions.
No wonder the CTA was such a mess when you ran it, you don't know how to read!

I'm trying very hard not to be cynical about the communication improvements, but I'll believe it when I see it. Improvements were supposed to have resulted from the review of Blue Line Emergencies #1 (July, 2006) and #2 (April, 2008). The customer alerts that currently appear on CTA's website for emergency bus reroutes and/or rail system emergencies are hit or miss. There's no consistency in when they appear and they often appear after the situation has been mitigated. Pushing alerts out to customers' wireless devices isn't going to change this. Consistent proofreeding of alerts would also go a long way to inspire customer confidence.

I will keep an open mind when the emergency alerts are available for text/e-mail in a few months. I'm looking forward to the planned improvements to the CTA website, but I'm also realistic about the past deficiencies of CTA's ability to radically change the way it communicates with its customers. The introduction of technology isn't a magic bullet. Unless everyone in the organization is truly invested in the process, we'll have experience the same haphazard interaction with CTA we currently "enjoy."

"Every single bus assigned to the 22 is a New Flyer!
I repeat, every single bus assigned to the 22 is a New Flyer!"

Unindicted Co-conspirator, didn't you backtrack your way out of this statement a few weeks ago, after you were called on it?

The fact remains, it was untrue then, and it's still untrue now, considering that I saw a 4400 running the 22 Clark at Schiller last night(or the night before, can't remember).

Wow Martha, get out of my head.

While I'm still up on my soapbox :)

The following statement was quoted by Thomas Friedman in his column in today's NY Times. The subject was financial services companies, but the substance of the statement could just as easily apply to CTA:

“In a connected world,” Seidman said to me, “countries, governments and companies also have character, and their character — how they do what they do, how they keep promises, how they make decisions, how things really happen inside, how they connect and collaborate, how they engender trust, how they relate to their customers, to the environment and to the communities in which they operate — is now their fate.”

The book Dov Seidman wrote is entitled “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life).” Perhaps RonH might want to lead a book club with his managers who are responsible for implementing the new communications protocols.

Gee Martha,

Sounds exactly like what I said to Ron at the coffee...you can have the best whiz bang communications system in the world, but if the managers and administrators don't put the information out, it's worse than doing nothing.

KevinB

====
Learn reading comprehension rusty!
====

Oh, too funny!

Chris wrote: "I once counted 14 buses going northbound ... before a southbound bus came along."

And in my 100% sarcastic reply I stated that this was because the buses don't travel southbound, but are beamed back to Union Station so they only run northbound.

But you apparently didn't notice that my post was 100% sarcasm because I also mentioned the conspiracy to keep the 22 off bus tracker, which you didn't see as sarcasm, but me finally agreeing with you.

So if you're looking to enroll someone in reading comprehension classes, I'd suggest that you need to go rather than I.

Think about that next time you're ignoring the next 4400 on the 22.

And my name's not Frank, either.

Just out of curiosity, what color is the sky in your version of reality?

For emergencies, wouldn't it be best to have 2 CTA employees in each train?

In which case, trains should have 2 employees at all times for safety (with the possible exception of late night service when there are fewer passengers).

I know that there is only one Engineer now and there would be budget issues, but should that 1 Engineer panic, all the customers on that train are at risk. Or if a customer panics, the only employee on the train is now dealing with two situations and not listening to their radio for instructions from HQ.

We're human, panic happens.

Anyway, I've been thinking about that for a while, thought I'd see what others think.

I never backtracked on my statement that every #22 is a New Flyer & I'm not going to now.
I have not seen anything else on Clark St north of Foster or in the Loop except New Flyers.
In fact, every bus running on Clark, Broadway & Sheridan that turns around or passes Clark/Arthur has been a New Flyer as are all the buses running on Devon, 155.

It's been obvious for those weeks that the CTA has:
1. Added buses to Clark St., the 30-40 minute waits midday appear to be gone, 15-20 seems to be the max.
2. The reason it's all New Flyers is that they have activated the bus tracking for their internal use & won't open it up to us until they completely eliminate the 30-40 minute waits.

And no rusty, I didn't see any sarcasm in your post as you don't know how to be sarcastic. You only know how to tell us that our eyes are lying to us & that you're always right!

Actually, given that I'm one of those people who'll occasionally open the bus tracker map just to watch the bunching, I don't really have that much trouble believing that there could be 14 buses in one direction before one comes in the other direction. If there's a serious obstruction such as a fire downstream, bunching's going to happen, and while the CTA routinely reroutes buses in that situation, it may not be feasible for the buses closest to the obstruction to reroute -- so they're stuck until the obstruction's cleared, which may worsen bunching further.

But one thing worth pointing out is that some of these buses may not actually be on their routes yet and some may have concluded their routes. They may be scheduled to start their first run once they reach the terminus. On a typical morning taking Lake Shore Drive south, I'll see as many as a half-dozen 22 Clark buses going north on the Drive to pick up the route and go southbound -- whether they depart from Howard or Foster or both I don't know (and isn't material), but the point is they're in transit to the beginning of their route.

And if this happened around the time of a shift change, some of those buses may have been headed back to the garage; drivers usually, but don't always, change their signs to reflect that. 14's an extreme, but I don't see it being demonstrably impossible. I've seen on the tracker as many as nine Western buses going in one direction but only a single one going in the other.

UC,

Ever heard of a black swan?

"I'm trying very hard not to be cynical about the communication improvements, but I'll believe it when I see it. Improvements were supposed to have resulted..."

Martha--
Here's what I picture. Ron got his people together and said "the communications are all screwed up, fix them." Nothing happened. Which gave him an opening to say, "OK, you didn't, now we're going to do it my way. We need communications to be A, B and C. So my plan is that we will do X, Y and Z, and if you don't want to, you're welcome to leave." So he proved a point about the entrenchec bureaucracy and now we'll see some action.

make that "entrenched"

Those eight bus routes are an odd collection. Does anyone know if they operate out of the same garage, and if so, which one?

Of course I've heard of black swan. It's an excellent brand of plumber's putty.

Now to be serious.
I said it & I meant it when I've never seen anything but a New Flyer north of Foster.
I sat in a restaurant on Clark in the Loop for 2 hours & saw nothing but New Flyer a some Nova, which aren't on 22.
I also spent 40 minutes at Howard waiting for a Pace bus & saw nothing but New Flyer & NABI articulateds there.
There might be the odd 4400 running around, but so what?
You could run bus tracker with excellent results with as much as 10% of the buses not equipped.
But they're not!
And the only reason they're not is that they're desperately tweaking the schedules in an attempt to fix the disasters that are the 22 & 36.
Which also means they probably read the posts from Kevin B & me & know from internal studies just how bad the 22 & 36 really are..
And all of my 30-40 minute waits for a 22 have been for NB ones from Bryn Mawr north to Pratt!

Also note that the #4 isn't on bus tracker. That just might be the worst of the South Side routes.
I have waited numerous occasions over 40 minutes for that mess!
There are too many bus routes & traffic in general on Michigan from Wacker south to Congress.

Oh, oh. Now you've done it. You've outted the CTA again, and let everyone know they're taking their clues from you and KevinB. That's exactly what they've been doing, and you've blown the secret now.

Great, I knew someone would be blaming me again...

KevinB

Sean wrote: "For emergencies, wouldn't it be best to have 2 CTA employees in each train?"

Sean, did you see the budget? Where almost a $1 billion is allocated for labor? And the CTA could balance the budget only by raising fares. Now add another train conductor on every train and see how much we'll have to pay for fares then.

We'll never see the second conductor come back.

WHERE DO I START ON THE ACTS AND CORRUPTION OF SECURITAS K-9 UNIT.AS WE ALL HAVE SEEN OVER THE YEARS CTA HAS CONTRACTED A SECURITY COMPANY FOR THE PROTECTION OF CTA PROPERTY AND RIDERS.WHAT WE ALL MIGHT BE IN THE DARK ABOUT IS WHO THEY REALLY ARE.I AM HERE TO GIVE YOU LIGHT.SECURITAS K-9 IS RUN BY KEN AND DAVE REESE WHO YOU NEVER SEE BUT MAKE LEWD AND RACIST COMMENTS.I RECALL KEN REESE ASKING WHY ARE BLACK PEOPLE SO STRONG AND CUT UP,IS IT HEREDITARY?IT WAS PROBABLY CAUSE THEIR ANCESTORS BEING IN THE COTTON FIELD,YOU GUYS OWE US A THANK YOU LAUGHING.DAVE REESE WOULD MAKE COMMENTS SUCH AS ASKING "DID YOU GO GET THE WHITE RAGS FOR THE CLAN MEETING TONIGHT?."AS WELL AS WE HIRE BLACK GUYS FROM THE HOOD CAUSE YOU CAN TALK THAT EBONICS SHIT.THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE WORDS FROM THE PEOPLE WHO WERE GIVEN THE CONTRACT FOR SECURITY OF CTA.I HAVE SEEN DOGS THROWN INTO THE WALL BY THEIR LEASHES AS CORRECTION FOR NOT LISTENING TO THEIR HANDLER,UNFEED,UNWASHED LEFT TO ROLL AROUND IN THEIR WASTE AND TAKEN OUT TO WORK WITH THE ODOR,AND WHEN BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE OWNER OF THE K-9'S AND GENTLEMEN RUNNING THE OPERATIONS THE CARED LESS AND TOLD OFFICERS THEY NEEDED TO GO OUT AND WORK THEY WOULD DEAL WITH IT LATER.K-9'S WERE ALSO HUNG IN THE AIR OUT OF FUSTRATION FROM DISOBEDIENCE AND WERE THESE PEOPLE EVER REPORTED OR FIRED NO NO NO THIS ISSUE LIKE MANY OTHERS WERE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG.MAYBE YOU'VE SEEN LIKE I HAVE THAT THESE DOGS AS WELL WORKED 24 HOURS SOMETIMES AND RECEIVED NO LOVE OR COMPASSION FRO THEIR HANDLERS AND AS SUCH DID NOT RECIEVE IT WHEN THEY WENT HOME TO SECURITAS K-9 UNIT BASE.HOW CAN STA STAND FOR THIS LET ALONE BE ASSOCIATED WITH.THERE IS QUESTION TO ME,WHY DO WE HAVE A MAN LIKE RON HUEBERMAN OPERATING OUR TRANSIT SYSTEM?IS IT BECAUSE JUST LIKE CHICAGO CORRUPTION ITS WHO YOU KNOW AND NOT WHAT YOU KNOW.I MEAN REALLY A MAN PUTS CAMERA'S STREET LIGHT POST AND THAT DOES WHAT FOR CRIME (LAUGH) IT HAVENT SEEN CRIME HAS WENT UP.I HAVE GEARED OFF TRACK BUT BACK TO K-9 PLEASE READ THIS AND OTHERS THAT I POST FOR YOU AND SEE THE SERIOUSNESS

I AM HERE WITH ANOTHER SPILL.DID YOU KNOW THAT THE COMMANDER FOR SECURITAS K-9 UNIT AND A FEW OF HIS OFFICERS WERE STEALING TIME?YES.HIS OFFICERS WERE GIVEN PERMISSION BY CTA TO WEAR PLAIN CLOTHES TO CATCH OFFENDERS ON THE LINE.THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS,TWO OFFFICERS THAT I WILL LEAVE UNNAMED WERE MAKING BOGUS ARREST IN UNIFORM WHY WOULD WE ALLOW THEM TO BE MORE CORRUPT?THE COMMANDER ALLOWED THESE OFFICERS TO TAKE COMPANY EQUIPMENT HOME USED TO TRACK TIME AND WHEREABOUTS OF EMPLOYEES SO IN TURN THEY WOULD WORK 30 HOURS AND BE PAID FOR 80.OR RIDING AROUND IN THE COMPANY VEHICLE SLEEP,A GREAT SERVICE TO US OR WORKING A SECOND JOB AND BE PAID WHILE STILL ON THE PAYROLL OF THEIR OTHER EMPLOYER.I WAS WITNESS TO SUPERVISORS GOING TO HOMES USING THE TOCO TO PUNCH IN ON THE ID CHIP OF A WORKER SO THAT THE COMPANY WOULDN'T LOSS UNBILLED TIME.REMEMBER RIDING THE TRAIN AND SEEING THAT K-9 OFFICER AND DOG SLEEP RIGHT NEXT TO YOU OR UNABLE TO SIT DOWN BECAUSE THEY WERE TAKING UP THE SPACE.SECURITAS WOULD HOLD A JURISDICATION I GUESS OF JUST CTA PROPERTY BUT WOULD TRAVEL TO THE HOMES OF OFFENDERS AND HAVE THEM ARRESTED BY BRINGING THEM BACK TO CTA PROPERTY.I KNOW YOU'VE SEEN THESE GUYS.BARAZA,REESE AND RICE MAINLY STATIONED ON THE SOUTHSIDE RED LINE.I GUESS.

WHY WAS A WOMAN WHO WAS RELEASED FROM A POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR SEXUAL HARRASEMENT ALLOWED TO COME WORK AT SECURITAS K-9 AS AN OFFICER FOR A FEW DAYS MAYBE WEEKS AND MADE INTO A SUPERVISOR.ITS FACT THAT THIS WOMAN DID NOT KNOW HOW TO GET TO CTA STATIONS FROM THE LOCATION OF WHERE K-9 IS BASED.ALONG WITH THAT SHE WAS NOT CLEAR ON THE POLICY AND PROCEDURES ON CTA BUT MADE A LEADER TO LEAD K-9 OFFICERS WHO WERE EMPLOYED FOR YEARS.HOW RIDICULIOUS.HOW CAN YOU ENFORCE A POLICY FOR CTA AND NOT KNOW WHAT VIOLAION THAT A PERSON HAS COMMITED LET ALONG REPRIMAND A K-9 OFFICER.THIS WOMAN WAS AS WELL PAID AT LEAST $15-$16 HR AS A SUPERVISOR WHILE THE STARTING PAY THAT SECURITAS GAVE WAS $11.25 HR.IT MAKES YOU LOOK AT THE PRACTICES OF THIS COMPANY.WAS IT BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF THE EMPLOYEES WERE AFRICAN AMERICAN THAT THEY WOULD FEED THEM FROM THE BOTTOM AND TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN.I AM FAR FROM A RACIST,I SEE THE TRUTH IN WHAT MY EYES CAN SEE.THIS WOMAN SEVERAL TIMES HAS LEFT K-9'S IN THE COMAPANY VAN IN A BOX AS SMALL AS A CHICKEN COOP FOR OVER 24 HOURS UNFEED,UNWASHED AND SOMETIMES LAYING IN THEIR WASTE.WHAT WAS DONE....U GUESSED RIGHT NOTHING BUT A AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE LEFT A K-9 IN THE SAME VAN AND BOX FOR 10 MINUTES AND WAS DEMOTED BACK DOWN TO AN OFFICER.HAS ALSO BEEN HEARD CALLING OFFICERS LAZY ASSHOLES OR WORTHLESS ANOTHER SUPERVISOR MADE A COMMENT OF CALLING OFFICERS FUCKING CRY BABIES AND WAS DEMOTED BACK TO AN OFFICER.CAN YOU SEE A PATTERN.WELL WE ALL KNOW THAT ALL COMPLAINTS AND CERTAIN INVESTIGATIONS GO THROUGH H.R,WHICH SHE NOW IS NO LONGER WITH COMPANY ALSO AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN WHO SWEPT RACIST COMMENTS AND COMPLAINTS UNDER THE RUG FOR KEN AND DAVE REESE.BUT BACK TO BUSINESS THE WOMAN WAS INJURED BY THE ACCIDENT AT THE CERMACK STATION AWHILE AGO AND PUT ON WORKERS COMP LATER TO RETURN TO LIGHT DUTY.READ CLOSELY ALL THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN DOES MATTER BECAUSE THIS WOMAN HAS STILL NOT BEEN CLEARED FROM THE DOCTOR BUT GIVEN A POSTION WITH SECURITAS MAIN BRANCH AS A K-9 EXPLOSIVE OFFICER FOR THEIR NEW CONTRACT FOR AMTRAK.THE TWO AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES THAT THEY HAVE ARE TO FILL THE HOLE UNTIL THEY CAN FIND THEIR REPLACEMENTS LOL.BUT I GUESS WE SHOULD CALL HER LADY LUCK LOL.NEXT TIME I'LL BRING THE STORY OF SECURITAS BOOTHGUARDS AND THE PEOPLE WHO MANAGE THEM,SEX,POWER AND CORRUPTION.

Yes! The 11 bus! Infrequent, but fast. 1,000 times better with bus tracker.

Ugh, the #11 bus. Way too many stops on this route. There's at least 10 stops between North Ave. and Chicago on Sedgwick and Orleans. It's like the opening scenes of Office Space, where the old man with a walker is passing by cars stuck in gridlock on the highway. Good riddance.

Awww, c'mon, Doc. The 11 presents a perfect opportunity to practice zen. While it's sometimes slow due to street congestion and frequent stops, it's been a great alternative to the Brown, especially on weekends lately. I am suffering from Slow Zone Elimination Panic Disorder and the 11 is my Xanax, especially for weekend travel to Fullerton where I can finally gain the strength and courage needed to board a train. It might be a fabulous idea to run the 11 on its weekday route on weekends while the Loop signal work is underway.

My life is complete. The #11 is now on bustracker.

Yup, typing in all caps is still annoying... And a good way to get yourself completely ignored as a crazy person.

Exactly, chris.

It's very difficult to read all-caps, and I'm not even going to try because it's probably is just some crazy ranting anyway.

At least they identify their crazy rants by using all caps. It makes it easier to ignore.

I'm a little late to the game here, but did anyone else notice the acronym for this just happens to be the acronym for the Soviet Union. In the Olympics, they wore CCCP on their jerseys, because that was the initials for USSR in Russian. Who says Democrats aren't commies at heart?

(Just kidding. I'm a Democrat myself.)

lets talk dogs, I know a few guards and kennel people for securitas. Did you know: the dogs are not allowed to work if their weight drops. I brought the food that they eat to the vet, and he was amazed at how much protein and fat it had in it, 30-20 for all the educated dog people. The dogs never work more then 5 days a week, and lately, not more then 3!! I belong to an animal advocate group, and most dog people should know, that dogs should not be sitting at home on the couch getting fat. That is very bad on their liver and hips!! Most of the things written about the dogs and guards are completely false, and are written by bitter employees that think they will somehow get money from a huge lawsuit by the company that couldn't get the contract. Why couldn't they get the contract? It is a fact, that Chicago took away 30 dogs about 2 years ago from the company filing the lawsuit! Just call animal control!!! The company also has "junk yard dogs" which should be illegal in Chicago! The former employees could not get unemployment because they were the ones that were busted and fired for not doing their jobs. Action has now hired the exemployees with promises to get them jobs and money by dishing out lies if they have to.Yes, I have actually talked to 2 of them also!!! Quite a few animal groups, and many, many dog people have walked through the kennel, myself included, unanounced and never saw a mess in the cages. All the people I have talked to said that it is "the cleanest kennel I have ever been to" Including the Department of Agriculture, and Chicago Pd! I've heard that many guards go in early to brush their dogs and play ball with them!
Many of the guards working these days are awesome men and women who get spit on, and ripped on, and punched, and lately knives pulled on them. Do you hear how they pulled a man with a knife off of 2 patrons getting robbed? No!! Or keeping the booth guards safe when the gangbangers threaten them. NO! you never hear that! There are many, many good stories, but those are not heard!! Maybe I should talk to a few police on 95th to find out the stories, but you can never find them!!! Just think of the guards doing their jobs, and loving their dogs!!!

Lets talk more dogs. How do you get a skinny dog fat? You have to feed him first, it dosen't matter if it's 30-20. I'd like to comment on the history of Ken and Dave Reese, managers of Securitas K-9. Did you know that Ken Reese that claims he has twenty years experience with training dogs is far from true. Ken Reese worked for National K-9 for about 15 years working on canine trucks. Dave Reese worked also for National K-9, mostly cleaning kennels.
If you want more, ask for more. Talk to me.

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