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Best of 2007: January gems and February faves

Over the next week or so, I'll share some of the best Tattler Tales of 2007. Today we review January and February's finest.

January:

Bears in the Super Bowl? Well, it was fun while it lasted. And CTA riders enjoyed it as much as anyone else.

Three tracking unveiled. And we were not at all happy.

Cute, but smelly: Coming clean on the CTA.

February:

I'm scared of him: New CTA security.

Beware the shell game. You  can never get enough warnings.

Comments

Three-track was one case of a potential CTA crisis that was averted through good planning and communication. -- http://ctabrownline.com/threetrack.html -- I think with all the warnings and plans we were prepared for the worst, but fortunately the worst has not materialized - yet. It's not over.

Sorry for commenting on this thread, but there isn't a thread for what I'm about to say... oh well.

One of the top headlines for CTA news on here on the "CTA News from Yahoo!" is CTA offering penny rides for New Years ...

Funding Crisis ... Penny rides ... hmmm.

Just doesn't fit for me.

Penny rides equals fewer drunks out there driving.

Perhaps if you're looking for a cost-benefit explaination that puts CTA in a vaccuum, there is none. But when you consider that the CTA is a public agency with a duty to act in the public good, it makes sense to be spending public money on something that the public gains so much from.

In other words, consider it not as some discrectionary spending, but rather as part of their mission.

It would be nice if some of the companies that benefit the most from excessive alcohol consumption on New Years Eve would make a donation to help underwrite the service, but even if no one steps forward, it's still in the public's best interest for the CTA to offer it themselves.

It may even be that there are some bus routes out there that do less good, but require more funding than this one night a year program requires. So perhaps someone actually can come up with a cost-benefit analysis that, if nothing else, would show that this program isn't at the very bottom of the utility list.

At any rate, if nit-picking about penny rides on New Years Eve is your reaction to a major funding crisis, then it must have driven you nuts that the deck chairs on the Titanic moved out of place when the ship tilted. Your outrage is needed someplace more far important and relevant than penny rides on New Years Eve.

I agree with Rusty

The penny rides on New Year's Eve really aren't penny rides as the Illinois Restaurant Association subsidizes them. The reason for the penny is that there is some state law that prohibits the CTA from giving out free rides.
That said, many bus drivers & station attendants just let people ride for free anyway & some people don't have pennies & throw in a larger coin which makes up for all the riders not having any pennies.

Rusty, I don't consider my comment to be "outrage." You must be too used to people on here raising a fuss over the littlest of things. My point is that if they have a funding crisis, charging only a penny on a very likely BUSY night is a stupid idea. Yes, you could consider it helping the greater good/helping the community, etc., but that's not the issue.

Unindicted Co-conspirator: thanks for that clarification. I was actually wondering if maybe someone/some other company sponsors it or, as you said, subsidizes it. Thanks.

It seems a little inconsistent to be so supportive of this, Rusty, yet so outraged over the whiteboards in your comments earlier this week.

I don't find anything contradictory in Rusty's positions (and I don't always agree with him/her)

The Penny Rides is a program that has been ongoing for years. If it helps keep even one drunk off the street, it's worth it. It really should be looked at in terms of the greater good it provides. And keep in mind that those buses/trains are out there providing service already - so there is no extra cost. Then factor in the number of free rides that are provided during this time - what, maybe 100,000, tops? Realize that most of those riders are probably regular CTA riders and many of them already have unlimited ride passes (so no money lost to CTA there). Factor in the large number of folks who ride that night only because it is free, and you have a very low fare loss.

Maybe the Tattler can request the official statistics to support/debunk this theory. (I doubt it has changed much since the last time the figures were released, but who knows?)

I'm obviously not dismissing the penny rides program. I'm suggesting that if you're going to apply cost-benefit analyses as Rusty tried to, they both have big positives. (And if he'd applied a cost-benefit analysis to his own idea of papering the walls of stations with printed service updates, considering the price of paper, computer and printer hardware, and disposal of the extra garbage once the service has been restored, there are further inconsistencies.)

Actually, I suggested paper and magic markers. On 11x17 piece of paper hardly constitutes "papering the walls of stations". I only mentioned the low cost of a network printer versus a whiteboard to illustrate that their "low-tech" solution more comperable in cost to a high-tech solution than it is to a real low-tech solution.

And as for the cost-benefit of penny rides, I'm sure you could go much higher than a penny -- a dime or maybe even a quarter -- and not reduce the utility of the program while increasing revenue. But my real point was that the benefit of the program to the CTA alone is nil. It's real value is to society, and CTA should provide this service even if no private entity were to underwrite any of it.

So why am I in favor of spending money here, and not on whiteboards? Because getting drunks off the road on Drunken Party Night has a high value to society that can't easily be replaced with other programs. Penny rides on the CTA are cheaper, and more effective than free cab rides, for example. But spending money on whiteboards that people will trip over, vandalize and steal is not a better choice than getting out a piece of paper, a marker, and some tape.

If you think that favoring penny rides and not favoring whiteboards is somehow inconsistant, then you either have a problem comprehending what I wrote, or you're more concerned that it was I who wrote it than what I wrote.

Seriously, is there someone here to complain about *everything*?! The CTA has been offering penny-rides on new year's for as long as I've lived here, and I think it's a great idea. Who is it that's sitting at home worrying that this goddammn government entity is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars, yet contributing to the public good by forgoing their fares for a few select hours on one dangerous night of the year. That's short-sighted thinking at its best..

Exactly. And I hate to defend Rusty but I don't see how anybody can say that his position on the whiteboards and this are inconsistant. His position on the whiteboards is nuts, but there is nothing about it that is contradictory with thinking that having penny rides is well worth it. I would suggest to Bob S. that when he wants to judge something's consistancy he should go a little deeper than just the superficial "Ah, there is something simiar in two different postitions that someone is discussing. Yet he is for one and against the other. Ah ha! I see an inconsistancy." By that logic, a parent would always be inconsistant if he or she let her child eat unhealthy food on one occasion but not another. Or if they let the child watch one movie at one time but not another movie at another time.

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