Monday, August 15, 2005

CTA Watch

More interesting articles from the Tribune today. The Metro section features a piece on a new system that regular citizens and CTA El riders are using to alert one another about delays. The system is in response to inadequate communication from the CTA about rider delays, something that has really stood out this summer with all of the hold-ups that were caused by bomb scares.

The article describes the system, which really evidences the power of information combined with the abilities of communication technology:
The system, at, uses e-mail, cellular phones and personal digital assistants to help commuters fill in the blanks during CTA service breakdowns and emergencies.

The eyes and ears of the real-time reporting system are its subscribers, who send text messages to group members when they see problems on trains and buses.
The article also describes the CTA's communication insufficiencies:
CTA riders are complaining more than ever this summer about being transported into an informational void when service screeches to a halt.

It happened Aug. 2 when evening rush-hour service on the Brown and Purple Lines was interrupted for 90 minutes by a small fire under a train near the Sedgwick station. It would've been nice if the CTA did a better job of letting more people know about temporary shuttle-bus service and other ways to get home.

...Riders also say the CTA has failed to keep them informed during bomb scares, including one July 18, when someone called in a bomb threat for the Red Line's Roosevelt stop. It shut down the station for 45 minutes and snarled service on the Red, Orange, Green, Brown and Purple Lines.

The CTA responded to six reports of a bomb threat or a suspicious package from July 7 through July 20, officials said.
I want to end by saying that I do like the El--in fact, I think, given its relatively meager funds, it is a great system: affordable, expansive, fast enough, offers nice views of the city. Every great city has a comprehensive transportation network, and every subpar city doesn't (e.g. Chicago v. Dallas). I just hope our great city's transportation network gets the investment it deserves.

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