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Page 1 news: The CTA is dirty!

Imagine that! The RedEye hires someone to determine whether the CTA is dirty and -- shocker of all shockers! -- the CTA IS DIRTY! And it's Page 1 news! Stop the presses!

I really just chuckled when I saw the hysterical headlines on both the Trib and the RedEye's front pages. Apparently the RedEye hired the company in hopes of finding if any of us commuters are leaving behind staph or E coli germs.

Well, no. Thank God.

But there's still enough bacteria to make us sick, and to warrant thorough hand washing after riding trains or buses. Well, duh!

The study, though conducted by a scientist, wasn't exactly scientific, since it was limited to two Red Line train cars, two Brown Line train cars and two buses on different routes.

To me, the funniest and most ironic finding was that the flocked seats themselves on El trains were found to be among the dirtiest spots.

So let that be a note of caution to all you folks who bend down and "brush off" the seat before sitting. You're just coming in contact with germs when you don't have to be.


I knew it! I'm the person who asked the CTA Insider about why they installed those flocked seats because I hate how you can't tell if they are wet (I sat in spilled coffee once) and I figured they must be difficult to clean.

Difficult to clean? You sound like you think they attempt to clean them.

I would prefer to sit on a graffitti'd plastic seat than the bum-pee-absorbant cloth seats.

How soon before we see people by carrying sanitizing wipes and purell on the train? How about Kleenex? I'd settle for Kleenex.

The 95th Street stop is the worse I've seen. I don't know who supervises the workers there, but I know that I've watched them clean around bottles, cans, blatant candy & gum wrappers. I've even picked up, with clean paper towels that I carry, bottles right in front of them and tossed them into the trash because they didn't care. Bottles that are glass, plastic, & bigger than Texas are all over the train. They'll pick up the newspapers left behind but NEVER the stuff they 'should' pick up, like the bottles that roll around making irrating noises all the way to Howard.

I'll get on a PACE bus at 95th, and find I could practically eat off the floor. Those buses are sooooooooooooooooo clean!! I never see loose gum or candy wrappers, bottles, or cans on those buses. Who supervises those buses?

The CTA buses & trains at 95th Street are the worse I've seen. Those workers & supervisors just don't care enough. Next time, do the test at 95th Street and no one, not even that scientist will ever take the CTA again!! That's the biggest pigsty in Chicago . . . worse than when Chicago had the stockyards here with livestock!! YUCK!!

I havent been to 95th - but I'm at Wilson daily and it's one of the nastiest stops I've seen. It's rotting, smells like urine daily and has garbage all around.

And yes, I already carry those Clorox disinfecting wipes with me. They make a refill pack that's in a flexible foil & easy to carry, along with the paper towels I like to take with me.

If you've noticed, Jewels also has Clorox disinfecting wipes to clean off the handles on the shopping carts when you first come in. The complaints were so bad about the dirt & germs, they've copied other stores in different states that had the same problem.

Yes, we are all going to start carrying Clorox wipes as part of our daily necessities. Get use to it!

That's why I always carry those travel sized Purell bottles with me.

There is a huge gap between the level of cleanliness with regard to the CTA at 95th and Pace buses at 95th. It’s like a whole new world.

CTA = an overall horrible experience versus Pace’s clean buses.

It is amazing that Chicagoans have survived riding trains and buses for the last hundred years without wipes. Our forefathers must have been made of tougher stuff than this current lot...

How about the bit where the scientist says don't touch the surfaces with your hands? Surfaces...you mean HANDrails and GRAB bars? What am I supposed to touch them with, my feet?

The real stunner is that they paid this guy and he found NO bacteria!
... "Though the tests conducted along the Red Line, Brown Line, No. 66 and No. 151 routes revealed no staph or E. coli bacteria cells", they were still dirty. OK, dirty, but no bacteria found. I'm stunned.

Perhaps we shouldn't resign ourselves to carrying Clorox wipes as a necessary part of our daily travels just yet.

As it's been said, the Trib/Red Eye was probably looking for a looming major health disaster to splash across their front page. As it is, they can only admit to some "very dirty" surfaces on our trains and buses.

Don't get me wrong, I've touched/sat in/stepped in more disgusting train stains than I'd like to remember, so I see this negative publicity for the CTA as a good thing for riders.

It's important to see through the CTA's vague dismissal that "There's only so much the CTA can do to keep these cars clean." Obviously. There are only a finite number of things that can be done to clean a train, but the question is, Has the CTA done them all? Of course they haven't. If that were true they wouldn't be creating the cleaning audit or looking for better seat-inserts. Calling them outright liars may be a bit harsh, but they certainly like to blow smoke at this issue.

The article, brief and incomprehensive as it may be, is a good step in holding the CTA accountable for their unhealthful environment. While the CTA looks at expanding their rail empire and expending our money, they need to be reminded of their obligation to their current ridership and existing infrastructure.

It seems counterproductive and debilitatingly cynical to resign to personal chemical cleaning every time we step off the train or bus rather than keep pressure on the CTA to clean up.

Sure, trains are dirty, but what about the riders? There's nothing filthier in the world than people, and the CTA is there to carry them all. This is one of those things where I sense that the CTA is being blamed for the failings of others around it. How many people wrote letters to get more funding for the CTA? How many people give money to homeless shelters that bathe the poor? It's a public train, not a surgical table. Public places are dirty.

The other side of it is, as was implied above, people aren't designed to live in a sterile environment. Despite the advertisements from the Clorox company, the human body is more like a forest that large numbers of species flow into and out of. We're trained to think of ourselves like a ceramic plate that occasionally gets a blob of yuck on it, but that's goofy. That's 19th century germ theory. Truth is, we'd die without the microbes that constantly digest our food and keep our immune systems patent. Germs are good.

newsflash: being in contact with a certain number of germs allows us to build up tolerance. i hardly ever get sick. i hardly ever wash my hands. i sometimes eat stuff off the floor. i touch the cta poles, seats, hand rails. i've flown on airplanes. i use public bathrooms (at concerts, in my workplace, etc.).

all this anti-bacterial shit is making us more sick. period. it's killing off regular bacteria and making super strains of stuff. same with eating antibiotics like they're flintstone vitamins and ... having healthy people get flu shots. get the flu once! you probably won't get it again for a good long time.

granted, i think i have a robust immune system, but i think it's because i lived a good old regular childhood filled with dirt and playing and running around the neighborhood. we didn't have anti-bacterial soap unless you were at a doctor's office when i was growing up (i'm 32). it was a bar soap or the dish soap.

i just think people are waaaay too paranoid about this stuff. save it for the bird flu.

I think we should hold the CTA responsible AND demand a little more cleanliness from citizens.

Start with eating and drinking on trains and buses. It has to stop. We citizens have to stop it. We should tell people to stop eating just as we tell them to stop smoking. Report them to the motormen and drivers.

And the CTA has to demand it by issuing more citations against eating. And I don't want to hear y'all complaining about "the CTa shouldn't sell coffee and food in stations if I can't eat it on the trains."

The articles on how much dirt is on the CTA is old stuff. They ran the very same stuff last year too. This is the non news of the day!
Best thing to do is carry waterless anti bacterial hand wash and use it often.

How can we ask people to stop eating on the CTA if they are between jobs & it's the only time they get to eat anything all day?

I agree, eating on the train is horrible, but some mornings, I've had to run to the train with Dunkin' Donuts coffee in my hand because I know when I get to work, I won't have time.

Also, if the person is diabetic & needs to keep a schedule which requires some food with medication?

As for the dirty, stinky, people, some of whom are homeless, cannot be barred from getting on the CTA. If they pay their fare, they are entitled to ride. However, there's not much anyone can do if they smell.

One homeless man, with tons of shopping bags, got on and he forced 3/4 quarters of the car & myself, to get off at the next stop and move up to the next car. Some did move to the car behind, but the car he was on, was almost completely empty. But the odor and stench was too much for the majority of people. You cannot tell the conductor/engineer 'Please remove this guy off the train'!

Body odor & dirty clothes are a bad combination which is equal to a stink bomb! How do you regulate having to keep an adult clean in public before they get on the CTA? Who's going to pass that law?

When I get home, the very FIRST thing I do is wash my hands thoroughly because I know I've been on the CTA. In the beginning, I was surprised at the amount of dirt that washed off. Now I know what the usual amount of dirt & germs looks like.

People, you need to dump your anti-bacterials in the garbage and live with the day to day messes of life. That stuff will kill you faster than if you don't use it. Consider the prevalence of anti-biotic resistant bugs out there due to those bloody waterless hand washes and the like. Like one of the healthiest people I know says "eat dirt".

The CTA is soft to pressure us to stop eating and drinking on the the buses and trains because it can't get riders to destinations on-time without us having to pack a damn lunch!

It takes too long to get from point A to B on many trips.

How can you *not* expect people to bring at least one meal with them considering that they're bound to miss one riding the CTA?

But that doesn't excuse those who liter and spill.

I wonder how many spills are caused by the violent side-to-side rocking, or start/stop of some trains or flapping of the new NABI articulated buses on north Lakeshore Drive?

Or by bus drivers who insist on stabbing the accelerator every 2 secs for the whole trip?

Gimme that stat.

Apparently riders of the Damen bus have seen this and taken note! I say this because today was Personal Hygiene Day on the #50.

First, a man at the Damen & Armitage stop was determined not to let the bacteria between his teeth get on the bus. Oh no! Instead he meticulously picked the cracks with his 7-day pass, wiping the residue on his pants before going in for another swipe.

Then, on the bus, a different man ensured that he did his part by not dirtying the bus with newsprint. As soon as he finished reading his paper he folded it up, put it in his briefcase, and carefully licked the ink off each finger one by one.

Why wait until you're off the bus to wash your hands when you can give yourself a tongue bath right there!? Forget the handwipes, I think that more people should learn from these fine passengers.

This Red Eye article is just another missed opportunity to do some actual journalism. I remember reading the Red Eye during the fall when the fare hikes were being proposed. While managing to avoid discussing the issue of the CTA squandering money in projects like the Super Station, or analyzing the inequitable distribution of Chicago Card distribution sites, or mentioning how the fare hike placed the largest financial burden on the most economically vulnerable, the Red Eye came out with hard hitting articles from columnists like Kyra Kyles asking readers "How often do your arms get bumped by other passengers' bags?" or "Whats your favorite CTA line?"

When it comes to writing about the CTA, the Red Eye is at best like a food critic in a restaurant nitpicking the soup while the building is on fire. I know that the paper is intended to be fluff, but I can't stand superficial investigative journalism about the CTA when there is so much else to be said.

Well, duh! Here's another shocker: I like beer!

I've lived in a few big cities and visited several others, and I'd have to say the "L" is the worst rail system I've seen. I've been to cities in developing countries with much better systems. You'd think it would be an embarassment to city officials.

I now take an express bus to work instead of the red line. Since they stopped cleaning the trains they're really disgusting, plus it would typically take close to an hour to get downtown, a distance of less than eight miles. It actually takes a little less time on the bus.

I think the CTA should just throw in the towel, admit that they are incapable of maintaining and running the rail system, and contract with a private company to run it. Even if we had to pay higher fares, I think it would be worth it.

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