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?)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
Once again, the Blue Line will be closed from Grand to Western starting at 10 pm Friday through 4 am Monday for slow zone repair work. Bus shuttles will serve stations in that stretch.
Certainly this is an inconvenience, but the CTA says the end is near. CTA Tattler quoted a CTA spokesperson on Monday that "the slow zones that were put into place due to the work will start being lifted in June as the replacement of ties progresses. In a nutshell, that means we are at about the peak of what the slow zones will be for this phase and it will start to ease up next month."
Spring arrives! With parades, farmers markets, bike races and walkathons causing bus reroutes, it makes me think that just maybe spring really has arrived. Check the CTA's Weekend Service Change report to see if your bus route is affected.
My Chicago Card Plus was on death's door. I could see a hairline crack in it, and it stalled in registering at the reader. But I was going out of town for a few days and knew I wouldn't be using the card and could have a new sent, so I wanted to wring another day or two of life out of the card.
"One of the CTA folks at the Lake station showed me a nice trick last night. You
hold the upper righthand corner (if you're looking at it from the back) up to
the very top of the circle (where it lights up). That way you're putting the
transmitter within the card nearly directly adjacent to the receiver within the
And yes, it does work -- for awhile at least. Eventually it will totally give up the ghost. I will say that the card had actually lasted me for more than two years -- the longest ever. So that was a plus.
And the morning I was leaving town I ordered a new Chicago Card Plus at the CTA Web site. They say it will take 5-7 business days to arrive by mail. But mine got to me in four business days, amazingly enough.
One other thing I found on these card -- keep them away from other similar cards, such as an ID to gain you entrance to lock doors at work. I used to keep them together, but my Chicago Card Plus failed very quickly. I've kept them separate since and have been happy I did.
Do you folks have any other tips, tricks or quips about the cards? And how about that blast from the past? Thanks to the Tribune for the photo of former CTA President Frank Kruesi at a press conference.