Don't like to read?
New Solutions, Same Problems
For Chicagoans, three things are certain: death, taxes, and a bus/train delayed or not appearing at all. With winter coming closer, the need for commuting via CTA will be at an all-time high.
A total of 20.9 million people used CTA to get to their destinations, according to CTA’s monthly ridership report. Compared to June, July saw a 1% decrease in commuters using the bus and an increase in commuters using the train by 1%.
Compare this number to when the State of Illinois opened back up post-COVID in July of 2019. The city has seen a 45% decrease in bus riders and a 50% decrease in train riders. For both forms of transportation, there was either a half, or close to half, percentage of riders today.
The problem is that, just like in early September, CTA transportation is a big cause of commuters missing appointments, arriving at work late, or being stuck in rain or snow. A bus/train is expected to be there only to vanish on CTA’s online tracker.
In addition, rail stations closed due to construction. This led to a decrease in the average rail rider on a yearly basis. When construction puts a lot of stations out of commission, a bus shuttle is in order of those closed/bypassed rail stations.
CTA Protesting Concerns
Two months ago, CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. spoke to the City Club of Chicago about reliability issues and vowed to end the problem, but that process won’t be a simple one.
Last month, there was a protest held at the headquarters that talked about the scheduling problems with the attachment of violence that went on in stations or bus stops.
CTA fixed the violence problem with the increase of on-duty security guards and K-9 units at stations across the Chicago area. But when it comes to transportation scheduling, the real problem still stands.
Holding an Organization Accountable
Micah Feilder is an organizer for Commuters Take Action, a group of upset riders who have had enough of the inconsistency and inaccuracies of bus and train arrival times. The coalition was created almost five years ago when inaccurate Blue Line train trackers caused commuters by the dozen to send complaints.
“The fact is, the number of ghost trains and complaints of ghost buses have remained the same since that plan was announced,” said Micah Feilder on the CTA President’s vow to change the commuting problem. “People rely on public transit to get to work, doctor’s appointments, and other important things. Not waiting for the bus and getting ghosted twice.”
The goal is to hold the organization accountable for not taking more care of the tracking services and force the agency to update the app. Hence, transporting arrival times are more accurate.
Feilder acknowledges that the company is willing to fix the problem but knows they aren’t close to the solution.
Steele Responds to CTA’s “Ghost” Buses and Trains
CTA spokesman Brian Steele said service improved with changes to some rail schedules, which means more reliable tracker information. But those changes won’t be permanent.
Steele said the CTA tracker takes information from the official schedule and combines it with real-time tracking. The phenomenon of “ghosting” occurs when no actual bus is running, so the tracker uses data from the official schedule.
That data can’t just be deleted because it’s needed as a backup when real-time data isn’t available — like when a bus’ GPS won’t work.
Nor can the CTA make those schedule adjustments permanent immediately, Steele said. Instead, the agency and its union agree on permanent changes about twice a year. For now, Steele said, the agency continues to rely on an old schedule from when staffing levels were higher.
Written By Daylontie Jasper
Chicago Sun-times: Why ghost buses and trains are still haunting commuters; By
Chicago Leader: CTA Commuters Protest About the Reoccurring Transportation Problems; By Daylontie Jasper
CTA: Monthly Ridership for July 2022
Featured Image courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil‘s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image courtesy of The West End‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License