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Huberman's shakeup vow: A breath of fresh air

It's music to CTA riders' ears: a management shakeup and renewed focus on customer service.

Huberman That's something we've been asking for here for years, and the promise made by new CTA President Ron Huberman Tuesday, when the CTA board approved his nomination by Daley.

Some refreshing snippets from the Trib report:

  • "The Chicago Transit Authority will be transformed into a performance-based organization, starting with changes in management."
  • "We will be doing a lot of slashing."
  • "I want people who are willing to give me very long days and weekends."
  • "Teams of people posing as commuters will be launched in an expansion of the city's 'mystery shopping program.' "
  • "Huberman's priority will be improving customers' experience of riding trains and buses by focusing on consistent service, cleanliness and courtesy."
  • He vowed, starting this week, to go through the CTA budget line by line and "cut costs wherever possible in significant ways."
  • "His first trip to meet lawmakers in Springfield is already set for Wednesday, Huberman's first full day on the job.

Ahhh! Fresh air!


Is it just me of is this comment a bit disturbing?

"I want people who are willing to give me very long days and weekends."

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but honestly, I'm disappointed that so many people seem to have this attitude. Work should NOT come before your family and working the "long days" and "weekends" may improve the CTA, but it will certainly but strain on the families of those involved. It't not their fault that the CTA is screwed up.

I want the CTA to improve, but not at that expense. Anyone else feelin' me on this?

Krazee, I actually do agree with you. Maybe at the outset people will have to work harder, but it shouldn't be a constant 18-hour work day, 6-7 days a week. My bosses expects a lot from me but they always say family comes first.

Somehow I don't think he means everyone has to give that.

Perhaps he just meant that if you get paid for an 8 hour day and assigned certain job responsibilities, you can't skip some responsibilities, work 2 hours and read a book or chat at the curb in front of the station for 6 hours.

I went to HS with Ron. He was a good guy, very dedicated to his studies and to his extracurriculars. I'm looking forward to seeing how he turns the CTA around.

As for the long days and weekends comments, I'll bet that Kevin's got it fairly well pegged. And the "secret shopper" concept is absolutely going to require evening and weekend runs, so maybe that's part of what Ron means.

I would tend to agree that family and life come first, however, I don't believe that's what he means. Have you ever seen the speed at which some of the CTA people work? The track workers move like sloths. It's really sad to me.

The fact that Huberman has been riding the "L" non stop since he took the job is a sign he's interested in the system and improving it. He's probably ridden it more in the last three weeks than Kruesi did in his entire career. In my eyes, the administration should take a page out of Bloomberg's book. They should be using the transit systems just as much, if not more than the average Chicagoian.

"I want people who are willing to give me very long days and weekends."

I hate that about corporate culture. Living at the office non-stop doesn't necessarily mean that a person is most efficient and effective!

I believe in working SMART, not face-time or working longer. You have to have balance in life.

With that being said, I do agree that their is room for improvement regarding the attitudes of many CTA workers.

It annoys me to no end to see a bus operator change and they are both moving like turtles, gossip for about 5 minutes in front of passengers who expect RAPID transit. That has to stop.

But we don't see how they're treated by higher ups. I see room for change, but slashing for the sake of slashing is terrifying.

Make sensible, specific changes I'd say ... not just to get more face time on the news.

By the way Zach, one thing that can be said about Frank Kruesi is that definitely rode the CTA religously. He was all over the place with that yellow jacket. I don't think that it was done by recent past presidents as frequently before him.

I agree about the long hours and weekends; people need to live their lives. However, I think what Huberman may be referring to is the management he will slash and replace. New management will be required to put in the extra time because the organization will be in transition. As with any organization that experiences a shakeup, working overtime is almost necessary to create stability. And let's face it: there's no other organization that needs stability more than the CTA.

I for one am excited!

I'm just hoping that the open-ended reference to "a lot of slashing" does not by any way allude to bus and train service.

I really don't think he's asking people to sacrifice family time. He's saying that the CTA is seriously messed up and it's going to take people working hard to fix it. He's not only slashing deadweight, but also the culture of apathy that has festered for way too long. I, for one, like it.

I'm also a little ashamed of myself b/c this is two thumbs up I've given the CTA lately. I've had no trouble whatsoever with my commute since three-tracking started. It's a weird feeling not to be incensed with the CTA , but somehow I'll deal with it.

merely working smarter does not get the bulk of work done.

As for the long nights and weekends, I think Huberman is talking more about the higher ups in the offices and the other administrators who are getting paid handsomely than about the front-line staff....though those front line employees are usually slow. When is the last time you have seen one of those Tameekas hustle? It's like going to the post office.

Anyway, for the higher-level positions, the CTA probably needs more young or otherwise unattached staff who can commit to working long and hard in those positions to make things better. In my experience, it's often the people who have "family obligations" every other day who are the laziest -- trying to get out of work or pushing it off onto the single people.

I know it's illegal to ask people their relationship status when interviewing them, but I definitely try to ascertain whether someone is single because they usually end up more committed tot he job, at least until they get engaged/married.

Hey Kevin, thanks for the great site. I want to express my frustrations with the CTA media relations department. I am a young reporter writing a story on CTA bus #50 and how irregular it is.I ride the 50 Damen bus every day and I would probably need a day to express my aggravations with it. And I am not alone. People are so angry. And I want to write about it. So, I have tried numerous times to contact officials form CTA through their media department. It has been almost ten days and nothing. Not even a peep. Any suggestions on how to contact anyone. Thank you in advance!!

I can't believe what i'm reading from some people here.
For the entire time i've been visiting this site it's been a chorus of nonstop pissing and moaning about how screwed up the CTA is.

So now someone completely new comes along with strong words and half a backbone to tell the lazy union asspickers and incompetent managerial twits to get on board or get the hell out of the way.

And what do we hear from some of you?
"What about the chiiiilllldrennnn?"

Tough shit.

Most of us get stuck at work at one time or another. And when things at work get into a crisis mode, most of us expected to to bust our asses.

And what about those of us that don't get to spend as much time with our loved ones because of a broken transit system that can't get us where we need to be quickly?

The CTA needs the living shit slapped out of it, and Huberman seems to be someone that has a fighting chance of getting it done.

If the employees at CTA can't handle it; get the hell out and go work somewhere else.

“The CTA needs the living shit slapped out of it, and Huberman seems to be someone that has a fighting chance of getting it done.
If the employees at CTA can't handle it; get the hell out and go work somewhere else. “—Well said.

I’m glad he’s here, and I welcome the change. I think things will start to look up for the CTA soon.

I hope the budget slashing reduces tacky lights like the ones at the Grand subway stop on the Blue Line in favor of, like, *ever* washing anything. I am politically very much in favor of having fewer buses/rail cars that just *stink*. I felt terrible for the poor operator on my #9 bus this morning, he had to work a whole shift in that stink.

And also: well said, crankyd. I miss out on a lot of stuff due to the CTA, too, so turnabout is fair play. And further, I highly doubt this will be entirely uncompensated overtime, too -- unlike those of us who work weekends at our salaried non-union positions.

I took the "nights and weekends" comment to mean that he wants people willing to go above and beyond the "I work 9 to 5 it's 5:03 and not my problem" attitude. It's a 24 hour system and he's going to want people accountable 24 hours a day, not 8. It's strong talk and very encouraging, but I wonder how much of the improvements will actually be made on the street level, what with unions to deal with.

I'm in the boat with crankyd and the others. Remember reading about the "rampant absenteeism that costs the agency $46 million a year" (source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0704190537apr20,1,3144398.story)? That is $46,000,000.00. Takes a LONG time to write out, and is definitely higher than Huberman's salary. If he can make it happen, that would rock. I say to get rid of the people who don't want to come to work. Clearly, the higher ups are asleep at the wheel or possibly also calling in if something like $46mm a year is being blown on account of CTA employees deciding not to come in so frequently.

Wow. Guy can't win for trying. I can't believe the bulk of the comments on this post are picking on the guy because he's gonna ask people at the CTA to actually work. Guess you guys'll bitch about anything ...

You know theres a lot of cuts to be made when they have track crew sitting at Belmont reading the RedEye, probably on the clock. Oh yeah, and flirting with all the operators that pass by too...

Well...the slashing won't involve the Unions. They have contracts and it's almost impossible to "slash" them. So that leaves office workers and management. So looks like office workers will take the beating. Joy.

I like Mr. Huberman's attitude, but he'll have to walk on water to get the union members to go above and beyond. Hell, based on the absentee problem they have, the CTA can't even get them come to work! It is amazing that in the 21st century, the notion of jobs for life with no accountability or performance reviews still exists.

am I the only one getting the big picture of this post..... he's much hotter than Frank!

screw that cmama. i dun care if he looks like an ogre. fix ma transit! :)

Every means possible should be explored to prevent service cuts.This includes a C.T.A. telethon that both satirizes and celebrates telethons.The C.T.A. could also market a "Take That ,Global Warming "t-shirts and shopping bags that promote public transportation as a ready solution that is already in place.Design your own kits would also be used to encourage people to purchase this item on a continual basis.

No one will debate the need for accountability, however, I can assure you the "higher ups" are well aware of the fact that this is a 24/7 operation. The need for someone to come in fresh and state the obvious is an unecessary slap. Cuts for the sake of cutting will get you nowhere. Don't you think that these positions will be refilled in due time by the "right" people?

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