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"Plane in the street:" My favorite CTA wireless alert

The CTA has been the main contributor -- and a good one -- to our wireless alerts system that we set up for riders and the CTA to share real-time warnings about CTA outages and delays.

One alert last night during the height of the storm ranks as my favorite of all time from the CTA:

"Due to airplane blocking 55th Street at Central, #55 reroute is WB: 55th -Cicero-Archer-55th - Central.EB:Reverse. "

Airplane blocking 55th Street!?!?! Obviously it was an awful accident -- a 6-year-old boy killed and 11 hurt are the early reports. But I just love how the CTA matter-of-factly reported "plane in the street" to our 400 alert users.

I just looked at my phone and said, "WTF!"

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You cut me to the chase! I was thinking the exact same thing! Tragic accident - but without knowing any details to see that message come up on my cell phone I was confused to say the least.

okay....so when a train decouples, the CTA doesn't say anything to it's riders. When a plane uses Central Ave. as its runway, they're all on top of the updates.....I still don't get the CTA.

This is all fun and games for those of you that don't take the 55 bus.

Yesterday, I left work at 6:50, planning to take the 7:00 #173 bus downtown. I get to the bus stop at like 6:58. Sometimes the 173 is early, but I figured that today would not be the day. Anyway, I wait until 7:30, and the bus doesn't come. I go back to my office for 15 minutes to check the CTA website... it doesn't say anything useful ("Improved service on the #6!"). I go back outside to wait for the 8:00 bus. I wait until 8:30 and decide that the 173 must not be running. I guess I'll take the 55 to the Red Line, I think to myself. So I walk to 55th St, and wait an hour for a bus that doesn't come. It's 9:30 now. By now I've lost all feeling in my feet. It's really cold outside. Someone else waiting for the bus suggests that we just walk to the Green Line. Good idea...

So the two of us walk from 55th and Ellis to the Green Line, through 6+ inches of snow in Washington Park. Any feeling that I had in my legs was now completely gone. They were totally numb. (Plodding through the snow and being numb is a cool sensation, actually.) As soon as we got to King Dr., the 55 bus blew past... great timing.

Finally we made it to the Green Line, and got on a train that arrived at exactly 10:00. Then it was a half-hour to downtown, transfer the the Red Line, and wait for the 66 bus at Chicago/State. I think I was home before 11:30.

I love the CTA. (Should have just walked to the 55/56/57th St. Metra station.)


WTF? Damn, that’s messed up!!! I noticed that the CTA does nothing but fuck up in extreme weather or when you really need them the most.

I took the Metra (it was on time) last night and arrived at the 103rd stop (it was on time) and waited outside for the 103rd CTA bus (that was no where near on time). But it was all good. It wasn’t even cold to me.

I hope you make it home in less than 5 hours today!

Here's my bad weather, CTA story.

My wife and I are thinking of buying a car so she can go to work. Right now it takes her 1 hour (2 trains and 1 bus), while by car it would take her 20 minutes. So the owner of the car we're thinking of buying lets us borrow it for a few days to test it out and she decides to take it to work yesterday. Now, this is her first time EVER driving in Chicago and in snow. So she gets out at 7pm and of course finds that there is snow everywhere. I tell her to go slow and keep her distance and she should be fine. Around 8:30pm she calls me, freaking out and crying, to tell me that the car is stuck in some snow and spinning around and she doesn't know what to do. Not knowing who to call (we don't know a lot of people) I tell her I'm on my way. Of course, the buses are nowhere to be found and it takes me 2 hours to reach her. Luckily, the owner of the car called her cellphone and by the time I got there he had gotten her unstuck and was teaching her how to manage snow driving around a mall parking lot.

On a normal day, that route wouldn't have taken longer than 30 minutes. We got home by 11pm and she was still nervous but ok.

Poor Jen. My heart goes out to her. Give her a big hug for us Tovi.

Hey... I even wrote a song about it. Sing it to the tune of the Brady Bunch song:

"Here's the story of a lovely lady,
Who was driving one day home from work.
It was her first time, driving in this weather,
The snow was everywhere

Here's the story, of a man named Tovi,
Who was very busy at home watchin porno.
Suddenly he gets a call, from a crazy Jenny,
Cause she was stuck in the snow.

So Tovi gets on a train and a bus
And two hours later arrives at the spot
Only to find out that Jenny had been rescued by the neighbor
That's the way Jenny survived the winter storm.
The winter storm, The winter storm

That's the way Jenny survived the winter storm! ... taratata

cmama -

Yeah, and I sent an e-mail to Carole Brown, which I cross posted on her blog, regarding the train decoupling.

I asked why there was never any explanation and why they made misleading announcements at the time. That was a month ago and I still haven't gotten any reply.

Despite someone posting that decouplings rarely happen, I have to wonder whether they actually just aren't being acknowledged by the CTA.

Several thoughts on jrock's post:

1. It seems like congestion has become so bad in this area that if it snows during rush hour, no form of street traffic moves. In retrospect, Metra Electric would have been better. If you had found a 173 bus, you probably would have been stuck on it for several hours.

2. If CTA had WebWatch, theoretically one could have found out when the next bus is coming. However, even Pace's version is no longer on its site.

3. I used to live in Hyde Park, and I don't know where your office is, but it would have never dawned on me to walk through Washington Park in a snow storm. If really desperate, maybe to 63/Cottage, but probably not.

Your email link doesn't work for me, but I'd like to submit my CTA Christmas experience. It's posted on my blog right now: www.chicanaontheedge.blogspot.com. Let me know if you want to post it here, too.

I got pretty lucky Thursday night. I opted for the subway because traffic was at a standstill. I walked to State Street, didn't have to wait long for a train, got a seat, and got to listen to a motorman actually telling us what was going on (he started with, "Look, you don't think there won't be delays on a night like this") and I ended up getting home about 20 minutes late.

HA! Cheryl! i was on that train. the 'bitter cta man.' it was like an SNL skit. classique!

i blogged about him here:

the lower half of the post is about him.

"out into the snowy madness to get to the el to get home. i'm crossing a crosswalk with a walk sign. clear white..no flashing hand, no sketchiness on my part. some dude in the middle lane in an SUV (natch) is not looking my way, but is slowly but surely inching forward in his vehicle. no way. and totally into the crosswalk. i walk...i can barely cross the way it is, and with him rolling, it's like..dude. you're going to run me over. i walk, and then give the front of his car a good double slap with the flat of my hand. wake UP, sir.

i walk past daley plaza, where i had walked just the night before. huge freakish christmas tree with oversized 70s looking ornaments and santa's house. the fountains are prettily lit and there's markets to buy things. that's about when i left that audblog. i get into the subway and onto the el. okay. here we go home.

that's washington. in the loop. at clark and division (four stops later), i encounter another quirky and hilarious part to what was quickly becoming a clusterfuck of a commute. bitter CTA man. the motorman announces at clark and division: "passengers on the platform... i'd seriously take this into consideration -- take a southbound train to the loop and get on at jackson; all these trains are going to be crowded."

we stop underground, not far from that station, between two stops....between that stop and north & clybourn. we hear the standard canned train announcement -- beep beep beep -- we are experiencing a delay and we regret this inconvenience. we expect to be moving shortly.

and then the guy comes back on (with this great, bitter, deadpan yet sarcastic voice) : "okay. i'll be a little more elaborate than that. there was a defective train, and it's out of the way -- well, i hope it's out of the way... and there's delays from where i am at to...well, practically all the way to howard st. (there's laughs/groans) so, it's delays of 10-20 minutes...well, i'm probably being too generous. you didn't think there wouldn't be a delay tonight, did you? but, hopefully they're moving, and we'll be moving, although slowly."

later... "some good news, the train in front of me is moving. slowly, but it's moving."

LOL. this guy was awesome. he was out of a fucking skit. so hilarious.

so, it took me quite awhile to get home. but, it wasn't without some fucked up humor along the way."

Yeah, that was the train! Hell, I didn't care. I had a seat (no small feat since I got on at Chicago), a book and remembered to visit the ladies room before leaving work. Getting home 20 minutes late was a breeze, considering.

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