Problems With the CTA

Straight Dope’s plans of attack against CTA were extremely difficult and definitely possible solutions. In the article four different red/purple line users were followed and their trips were analyzed. Yet too me that is not enough, you can have as many detailed points on how to improve the speed of the train by six minutes, but it’s not worth it. The extension of the red line to 130th street is obviously a smart choice and an expansion that certainly needs to happen. But for the other problems of the CTA, it would be a wise decision on the CTA’s part (if they cared) to interview many people and find what their flaws were with the system. The people are the one’s who ride the CTA and they know it best.

I’m thankful that I’m able to get to school in a somewhat timely fashion from the CTA everyday but I recognize that there are many problems including the infrastructure itself. For starters, the very basis on which the trains run over (the viaducts, etc) seem to be falling more and more every time a train passes over it. Improving the quality of those bridges is something that needs to happen, and quickly. I am a rider of the purple and red lines so I qualify myself as somewhat of an expert on the matter, I experience them everyday. More problems include seating. The purple line has a new train that looks more modern. I know that it’s a business but these trains must have two times less seating then the old purple lines. This wouldn’t be a problem if more people wanted to stand, rather then sit. The train is practically encouraging an uncomfortable and packed train ride once it leaves Evanston. As I saw in the article, fixing the train system is extraordinarily complicated, but replacing moderate train cars with worse train cars makes me think that they aren’t actually spending a good enough amount of time tackling the problems.

Another problem as stated in the article is the Skokie yellow line train. My friend and I even have a joke about how badly inconvenient this train is. This tiny two car train takes up entire spaces at Howard and only goes in a back and forth motion. Building an extra platform for this train that doesn’t carry too many people, might be an option. This would take a lot of money and building, but if the CTA seriously wants to fix up their system, this would be a good starting point. Opening up the tracks solely to purple and red lines would allow for a more frequent service by both trains, and not force me to miss the ever so elusive purple line train when I need to catch a Metra. Having a more frequent service (aka put a few more trains on the tracks) would speed up everyone’s commute, and not have to worry so much if they miss a purple line. A valid argument pointed out in the article was that the purple line is hardly an express train and is extraordinarily slow once it reaches Belmont. Obviously I don’t know all of the logistics behind it, but I propose making the purple line express to the Loop (Merchandise Mart) after it reaches Belmont and/or Fullerton. This would allow commuters to transfer to the red line. Yet for this to work, adding one more car to the Brown Line would be necessary. The Kimball Yard is nearly packed full, but one extra car to each train would carry many more passengers, and allow the purple line to actually be an express, as the Brown line picks up any stop in between the loop and Belmont/Fullerton for the purple line.

Like many other systems in Chicago the CTA seems to be very lazy and reluctant to fixing their problems. Yet one can argue that the train system is the life blood of Chicago, and making commuting faster, more efficient, and comfortable would be an amazing asset to have if you live and work in the Chicagoland area. If these changes or something along the lines of them are possible, it would help so many commuters including myself.