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Fuel

Andrew / May 10, 2004 12:21 PM

I am constantly flummoxed by the clustering of Clark busses. Why is it that nothing is ever done to avoid the spectacle of no bus for 45 minutes and then three busses leapfrogging each other from stop to stop? It's insane.

paul / May 10, 2004 12:35 PM

I could think of lots of things that would cost them money - but here's one that won't:

How about having those red and brown line drivers wait the extra 5-10 seconds in order to make their connections between trains at Belmont or Fullerton. I can't count the number of times it cost me an extra ten minutes of waiting time, just because the trains missed each other by seconds. Especially when the trains sit for minutes waiting for track workers around that area anyway.

My other CTA pet peeve is broken turnstiles or card vending machines. Perhaps they could afford to install one more machine per busy station to make up for the one that's always busted.

Oh, wait, you got me on a roll - how about building wider staircases at certain stations so if you're trying to run up the stairs to catch a train you don't have to knock people out of the way.

And one more - bring back the Love train! (I know that operator is still driving - he made his entire 6 car train applaud the female riders for mothers day last week.)

Jes / May 10, 2004 12:45 PM

They need to make it easier for those of us who live in northwest to get to other parts of the city without going down to the LOOP first. They need to make the Damen bus run more reasonable hours and fix the problems with the Western route (I've seen up to four buses driving down the street together, usually this is only a problem at say ... 10:30pm in the middle of January, so by the time the finally get to me I'm a pillar of ice).

Brenda / May 10, 2004 12:55 PM

I could do without those Damen bus drivers who end their route whenever they get hungry. They don't think twice about making a full busload of people get off and wait for another bus, just because it's their break time. Doubly annoying because Damen buses are consistently at least 20 minutes apart -- and that's during rush hour.

Al / May 10, 2004 1:12 PM

I hate bus bunching. It seems like changing bus routes so that they don't stretch across the entire city (like the Chicago bus that runs from Navy Pier allll the way to the West Side) would prevent buses from getting off schedule. smaller faster routes would make me happier.
Also, when in the UK I was really surprised by how happy and congenial the bus drivers and transit works were. They really seemed to enjoy their jobs and had relationships with many of the bus drivers. I would probably be a lot happier taking the CTA if the people working there were happy to be there too.

pat / May 10, 2004 1:27 PM

It would rock if the brown line ran all the way to Jeff Park. Think about it. A "northern loop".

More practically, it would be nice if the marquees that tell us there is a train almost there actually gave a realtime ETA of how long a tran would take. For instance; should I take the brown line or purple line? Give up on the train and hop a bus? Let's put that technology to some kind of use.

karen / May 10, 2004 1:39 PM

I'm all for cleaning the urine off of the surfaces of the redline more frequently. I'm tired of wallowing in the stench.

Peter / May 10, 2004 1:44 PM

I would like to see marquis at the platform and street level display arrival info such as "what line" and "how long till it arrives" and "next train". That way you don't haul up/down the stairs to catch a train that you are not going to get on.

Also, train drivers need to stop moving a hundred feet and stopping, moving another hundred feet and stopping, etc... all the way to the next stop.

Wind screens for above ground stations in the winter months.

Speed up the brown line already. $1.75 and I still can't get to work on time.

emily / May 10, 2004 1:58 PM

Install a special homeless/cracked out/drunk/violent car lined with plastic and cleaned daily with lysol for those of us who aren't capable of interacting with the rest of society.

Either that or clean and monitor the trains more often.

miss ellen / May 10, 2004 2:04 PM

the transit in wash DC ( at the moment, i'm spacing the name - wait, metro, i think ) had the BEST scrolling marquees with arrival times & train lines. thought that was a brilliant idea, so nice to see it mentioned here. seems like it wouldn't take too much, given we already have the boards installed....technology just waiting to be used.

haydn / May 10, 2004 2:18 PM

1. At least for the red line, and maybe the blue line, go back to the old AB system with a few all stops. They don't really need to stop every two blocks, and it would save riders going from one end to another 20-30 minutes.
2. Electronic marquees w/ arrival times.
3. End the practice of playing recorded messages during delays, make the conductors actually tell us what's going on.
4. Screw The Woodlawn Organization, run the green line back to 63rd/Stony and connect w/ Metra.

bus bunching, incidentally, is a problem worldwide (it's even worse in London) and incredibly hard to fight. it's frustrating but probably a fact of life for any frequent bus service.

Wendy / May 10, 2004 2:22 PM

Extend the evening hours of the Lincoln Avenue bus route to 10pm. Then again, I'm not convinced the Lincoln bus even exists. I'd like some proof, please.

Craig / May 10, 2004 3:33 PM

I've always wondered why the Green line leaps from Clinton to Ashland without giving the West Loop Gate any lovin' ... considering the massive influx of condos, restaurants, and galleries it would be sweet to have a Morgan St stop.

Can anyone recall the last time the CTA *added* a stop?

schecki / May 10, 2004 3:57 PM

Have the yellow line run later and on weekends.

Cinnamon / May 10, 2004 4:13 PM

If they could make the trains quieter, that would be helpful. I swear they were quieter 7 years ago when I first moved here. I actually remember being able to have a conversation with a friend on the red line as it went underground. Clean the cars every once in a while. Fix the elevators permanently. I hate seeing people in wheelchairs show up at the stations and then have to get on a bus to go to another station.

While it was a much smaller public bus system in Columbus, Ohio, if one bus was running slower and the bus behind caught up with it the bus behind would leapfrog, or the slower bus would only stop if people wanted to get off the bus until it was back on schedule. Shorter bus routes would help.

There needs to be more stops in general on the non-red/brown/purple lines. I like the AB train idea. (I remember when the Grand stop on the blue line was actually re-opened.)

The Chicago Plus card is a huge plus. I never have to put money on my card, it just gets deducted from my bank account when I need more money on my card.

Bring back the guy who would sing opera style on the red line. In fact, I think there should be a contest on which conductor is the funniest/best singer/etc. They do it on the trolley system in San Francisco and I loved it.

cRAIG / May 10, 2004 4:28 PM

The operator for the 8:20(?) Purple Line Express out of Howard has the most character of all of the operators I have experienced. He talks the whole way from South Blvd to Howard, and then another 5 minutes out from Howard. Tells you everything you need to know-- train speeds, delays, weather, upcoming holidays, goofy jokes, and he even reminds you of the train number at least 6 times. He always caps it off with "Thanks for riding the CTA, Chicagoland's number one people mover."

Peter / May 10, 2004 5:29 PM

Yes, he used to be the 5:08 Purple line out of the loop. He said that he was being transferred to another route.

pat / May 10, 2004 5:35 PM

Mmm... Favorite conductors. There's a guy that does the Brown line in the evenings, he ALWAYS announces "The doors are closing" in the deepest Ted Knight-meanwhile-at-the-hall-of-justice sort of way. Not only does he do a great Ted Knight, but I love hearing him get snarky with riders that try to crowd in the doors.

Maureen / May 10, 2004 7:24 PM

"4. Screw The Woodlawn Organization, run the green line back to 63rd/Stony and connect w/ Metra."

Either that, or put the Metra Electric line on the CTA fare structure. I think some guy proposed calling it the "Grey Line"

tommy / May 10, 2004 10:18 PM

"I've always wondered why the Green line leaps from Clinton to Ashland without giving the West Loop Gate any lovin' ... considering the massive influx of condos, restaurants, and galleries it would be sweet to have a Morgan St stop."

As band as that gap is, the gap from Ashland to California on the Green Line is even more of a head scratcher, in 2004 at least; no stop a block and a half from the United Center? The Horner Homes and Rockwell Gardens have shrunk to nothing almost ( trying to think like King Daley for a moment...), so how about a Damen stop and a Western Stop? That whole area is really jumping. A lot of people in West Ukrainian Village could connect to those stations via bus quicker than they can to the nearest Blue Line stops. It's got to be cheaper to add a station to an elevated route than an underground section of track- someone should do a potential ridership increase estimate.

"Can anyone recall the last time the CTA *added* a stop?"

They re-opened the Grand Avenue stop on the Blue Line after it had been closed for a number of years. I miss the old weekend runs on the Blue Line- the Chicago Avenue stop used to be closed on weekends back then, too, so the trains would run from Division to Clark and Lake, and the conductors would usually be going about 75mph around Grand before they began their runway descent. Fast and real loud, like you were inside Thurston Moore's guitar cabinet.

tommy / May 10, 2004 10:39 PM

"They need to make it easier for those of us who live in northwest to get to other parts of the city without going down to the LOOP first."

This was years ago, but there was an attempt to get the CTA to consider linking the Blue Line and the Red Line at approximately 1800 North. There is a raised railroad right of way that runs adjacent to Bloomingdale Avenue in Bucktown. I don't know what its termination points are now or what it was used for in the past, but I believe that freight trains ran along those tracks. Now, of course, there are condos crawling up the sides of it and even straddling it probably and the idea of using it is no longer feasible, but at one time it was. Imagine connecting from North and Milwaukee to North and Clybourn and never stepping on the 72 bus or walking through the piss aquarium linking the Washington stops.

Another great idea ( to me ) that I know the city would find a million faults with would be to stretch the Brown Line from where it ends at Kimball and Lawrence over to the Montrose Stop on the Blue Line. All the Lincoln Parkers could go to O'Hare via train without changing in the Loop. I'd expect the cost of that two miles of track to be estimated at around nine trillion dollars.

Funny how the taxes collected in this country used to be enough to build highways and railroads and airports and giant dams, even with a lot of Moms not working. Damn war machines ain't cheap.

'That Ian' / May 10, 2004 10:44 PM

They could have roaming assassins who incapacitate and publicly execute the unsuspecting second, third, and fourth bus-drivers in the bunched bus convoys.

And voila -- no more busses bunching!

Kevin / May 10, 2004 10:55 PM

The operator for the 8:20(?) Purple Line Express out of Howard has the most character of all of the operators I have experienced. He talks the whole way from South Blvd to Howard, and then another 5 minutes out from Howard. Tells you everything you need to know-- train speeds, delays, weather, upcoming holidays, goofy jokes, and he even reminds you of the train number at least 6 times. He always caps it off with "Thanks for riding the CTA, Chicagoland's number one people mover."

THAT guy rocks! If every train/bus had someone like that, I'd wait the extra 10-15 minutes. Fuck, I'd buy tickets. I love the way he tells you that at your next stop, theres a Jewel and then proceeds to lightly sing the jingle. There was actually a story about him on the intarnet somewhere....

Kevin / May 10, 2004 11:00 PM

Re: bus bunching. Waiting for the Western bus while watching six other buses with the marquee "North Park Garage" pisses me off to no end. It seems like for every routed bus, there's six other on their way to the garage. Asshats. This seems so inefficient but maybe it's just me.

Um..dude..like..since you're going that way....

Maybe they could institute some loose policy that if a bus is driving down a city street and sees 10 people huddling around a stop, that they could pick them up? I'm dreaming.

Kris / May 10, 2004 11:45 PM

There's not much that can be done about it, but it is a shame that the L system isn't more comprehensive. For the show I'm doing right now, I'm going from Lakeview to the Chopin theatre at Division/Ashland/Milwaukee for rehearsals, which means taking the Red Line all the way south to Washington and transferring to the Blue back out of the Loop, or going to Clark/Division and taking the slow-n-shady Division bus west. It's a much longer commute than it ought to be.

The RTA Trip Planner site ( http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/ ) tells me the quickest route is to take the Halsted bus south and transfer to the Division bus. Which means waiting for a transfer right in the shadow of Cabrini-Green. At 10:30pm when I'm coming home? Thanks but no thanks.

tommy / May 10, 2004 11:52 PM

Are you allowed to make three closely spaced posts reminiscent of the 22 bus in this thread?

Wanted to know the extent of the Bloomingdale Line and found this:

Past and Recent History of the Bloomingdale Line
Currently, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) owns the right of way that runs along Bloomingdale Avenue (1800N) from Ridgeway Avenue (3800W) east to Ashland Avenue (1600W) on the North side of Chicago. This strech of track was originally part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway (The Milwaukee Road), and was absorbed by the Soo Line (a subsidiary of CP Rail) in 1986. A simple map of trackage on the north side of Chicago can be found here, part of a cool site about the Lakewood Branch on the other side of the river.

The Bloomingdale embankment was built over much of Bloomingdale Avenue a long time ago and has been used mainly for freight service to a small manufacturing district that included the former Schwinn bicycle headquarters.

The line is bookended by heavily-used passenger and freight lines on both its east and west sides. Freight service in the late 1980's and early 1990's was sporadic, with approximately one train per week passing through. Several years ago, the few trains that use the corridor were re-routed and freight service has essentially ceased. Western parts of the corridor are sometimes used by METRA for storing ballast. This railroad has not been technically 'abandoned' by Canadian Pacific, a move which would trigger a series of events that could determine future uses and ownership.

In the early 1990's, as gentrification began in the West Town neighborhood, many of the manufacturing buildings along the corridor were converted into residences, spurring a wave of development along the line. Since then, many vacant structures have been rehabilitated into condominiums and several large new construction project have been erected, mainly west of California. Currently, there is considerable community debate over a proposed residential development on a large site at California & Bloomingdale

amyc / May 11, 2004 6:20 AM

Maps! Why are there not maps at every station? And I mean a map that shows where the stops are in the actual city, not just in a straight, context-free line!

And the one small thing that drives me absolute batshit insane about the CTA: The colors of the signs at the stop almost never match the color of the line (the Paulina brown line stop's signs are red, for example. The red line is nowhere near there). I mean, how hard is that to fix? And who would do it that way in the first place?

Another beef: If you're not from around here, getting around on the CTA is almost impossible, though it's gotten better than it was when I moved here in 94. Back then, especially on the red & blue lines downtown, there were none of those "North to Howard" or "West to Douglas" signs on the platforms -- they just listed the next stop and the street numbers. Which was fine if you knew your way around, but if you didn't already know that Washington was north of Jackson, you'd have no idea which train to board.

christopher / May 11, 2004 10:49 AM

umm... the 'homeless/cracked out' comment was disturbing. I'd wager that it's less fun for a homeless person to have to pay $1.75 to hang out somewhere uncomfortable but warm than it is for a typical commuter to ride in the same train car. a lot of people are having a shitty time of life. not having to look at them doesn't alleviate the problem. neither does joking about it.

'That Ian' / May 11, 2004 1:26 PM

With regards to Christopher's comment concerning the homeless, I completely disagree. I think that not only should the CTA stop serving the homeless but they should add handicapped people to that list. And elderly. The CTA should be for HEALTHY AMERICANS dammit. None of that rabble on our nice clean busses. Those who are less advantaged than I should not be allowed on public transportation. Not only do they take up too much space but they are noisy and they smell like diapers. No minorities either. Or children...

Kevin / May 11, 2004 2:20 PM

No diapers?

Guess I'll be gettin' me a car then..

Bill / May 11, 2004 5:33 PM

"And the one small thing that drives me absolute batshit insane about the CTA: The colors of the signs at the stop almost never match the color of the line (the Paulina brown line stop's signs are red, for example. The red line is nowhere near there). I mean, how hard is that to fix? And who would do it that way in the first place?"

Those signs date back to the old skip-stop service (That I also think they should bring back on Red and Jackson Park Blue) Red station signs meant A, Green meant B, and Blue meant all, so in your example, Paulina was an A stop, whereas Southport and Addison were both B, but Belmont's signs are blue because all brown line trains stopped at Belmont. Then only A stopped at Wellington and only B stopped at Diversey etc. Riders knew right away if they were at an "A" or "B" station by the color of the sign.

The signs not matching the color of the lines wasn't an issue because the lines weren't "Colored" until after the end of skip-stop service.

"Another beef: If you're not from around here, getting around on the CTA is almost impossible, though it's gotten better than it was when I moved here in 94. Back then, especially on the red & blue lines downtown, there were none of those "North to Howard" or "West to Douglas" signs on the platforms -- they just listed the next stop and the street numbers. Which was fine if you knew your way around, but if you didn't already know that Washington was north of Jackson, you'd have no idea which train to board."

They used to have signs on the pillars of island platforms and on the outer railings of outside platforms, dating back to at least the early 80s that announce the direction of travel. Most of the original ones are still there. Perhaps the ones you didn't see in 94 were on the Red Line, which was switched sometime around that year from Howard-Englewood-Jackson Park to Howard-Dan Ryan, at which time they took the southbound signs down and changed them.

If you look at one of those signs today, the older ones have electrical tape on the bottom third that is color-matched to the sign. It's covering the portion of the sign that says "A station" or "B station." Also, I know there's one at Armitage that still states "Ravenswood/Evanston" as opposed to "Brown/Purple"

Scott Knitter / May 20, 2004 10:18 AM

The filth in CTA train stations is a civic disgrace. So is the lack of light. Some day I'm going to wear a miner's helmet and get off at Grand on the Red Line and see if the helmet's light helps at all.

It only takes a visit to a system like that in DC or Toronto to make one wonder, what's the CTA's problem?

The inconsistent signage is stupid, too. And those electronic crawl signs that apparently were put up to broadcast the very important message, "Be sure to take your possessions with you" or whatever. In London, those signs show the next two trains and how far away they are in minutes.

And the CTA could take fares back to $1.00 if they enforced the no smoking rule on platforms and the no eating or radios rule on trains. Until then, the scofflaws will continue to scoff and puff.

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