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CTA for Sale?


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#1 sw4400

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

Ok, naming stations is one thing.... taking space at stations to sell products(e.g Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc...), but now the CTA is looking for sponsors to fund the CTA Holiday Train, New Year's Eve Penny Rides, Free Rides for Students on the 1st Day of School, and the Bus and Train Tracker??? Is our CTA really that bad off that they are looking for sponsors for events that helps bring cheer(Holiday Train) and save lives(Penny Rides) as well as keeps us from waiting in below zero wind chills, high heat indices and pouring rain(Bus & Train Tracker). To dwell into these potential cuts a little deeper...

-Is the Holiday Train necessary??? No, but it does attract riders and makes for some nice,positive riders as well as photo-ops.

-Are the New Year's Penny Rides necessary??? Hell yeah!!! Can you imagine what would end up happening if this didn't exist??? All the possibly fatal crashes across Chicago due to drunk drivers.

-Are the Free Rides for Students on the 1st Day of school necessary??? IMO, no. If CPS wants 100% attendance on the 1st day, they should pay for this event, and it should be TO SCHOOL only!!! Why give the students free rides TO and FROM school??? That's throwing away revenue needlessly.

-The Trackers(Bus & Train), are they necessary??? I think they are!!! I've found them extremely useful, especially on a bitterly cold morning or a day of pouring rain. I didn't have to wait in the elements if my bus or train was 12 minutes away. I could wait in the station house or a nearby restaurant(e.g Dunkin Donuts) before it arrives.

Full Press Release here

While the Holiday Train is nice, it's not a necessity. We'll be a little down without it traveling the eight rail lines. The Penny Rides need to stay, for the sake of those who've drunk too much and decide to attempt to drive home half-hammered and put innocents as well as themselves at risk. As far as the trackers, can anyone imagine life without them now??? They've been there to help us track that bus or train we've been looking to get without freezing or getting soaked waiting on.

#2 trainman8119

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:47 AM

IMO, if you can't afford it, you don't do it. It's that simple. I personally feel and always have that all the tracker stuff is fluff and is a big waste of money. Sure, if it is there, will I use it....maybe, but I certainly don't need it. I would rather see that money spent on operations and a reduction in the overpriced fare and maybe a few good brains in the executive suite.

#3 Busjack

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:54 AM

I guess Claypool figures that being $80 million in the hole every year, every penny counts. The point isn't that CTA wants to do away with any of these, just that some bank should be dying for the privilege of sponsoring them, just like every bench in Millennium Park is sponsored by some company (and in the case of SBC, the name changes every couple of months). The emphasis in the press release is how the "partner" makes a commission only if it sells sponsorships.

Heck, Pace sold advertising space on its website, but since I use Adblock, all I see are the empty frames. If someone wants to pay for not getting its message out, fine.

Something like this is less obtrusive than Pace selling audio ads, which would be distracting whether or not they worked.

I'm surprised that no one has commented yet on the CTA getting off its high horse and now allowing a limited amount of booze ads. I remember when liquor bottles were painted on the side of 9600 series buses--including in Evanston, when it was still in the grip of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Was there some sort of uproar then similar to the later one over violent video games?

In that I have seen advertising inside of L cars with teenagers seriously making out over some product I don't remember, let the advertisers and sponsors pay for what they want, so long as it is not illegal.

#4 Busjack

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:59 AM

IMO, if you can't afford it, you don't do it. It's that simple. I personally feel and always have that all the tracker stuff is fluff and is a big waste of money. Sure, if it is there, will I use it....maybe, but I certainly don't need it. I would rather see that money spent on operations and a reduction in the overpriced fare and maybe a few good brains in the executive suite.


Again, I don't think it is fluff, in that the gps is on the buses anyway, just an opportunity to make some money for "TrainTracker Sponsored by U.S. Cellular. Get Travel Times on your Android Smartphone by buying one at our store at New Comiskey Park [sic]."

Of course, it did apparently help Tony Coppoletta get a job at the CTA.

#5 See Tea Eh

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:11 PM

I personally feel and always have that all the tracker stuff is fluff and is a big waste of money. Sure, if it is there, will I use it....maybe, but I certainly don't need it. I would rather see that money spent on operations and a reduction in the overpriced fare and maybe a few good brains in the executive suite.


Here in the twenty-first century, people use technology. Transit systems have to keep up with the technology or get left behind. They are marketing to riders that grew up in the computer age (and some that have grown up in the cell phone age, and a few now that have grown up in the smart phone/iphone age). If a transit system is going to take the attitude of "read the damn public timetable and hope the bus shows up when it's supposed to," it will be shunned by anyone who has a choice.

For many years, transit in this country was seen as a method of last resort. It was only for people who couldn't afford to drive, or for the severely disabled. Transit systems all over are finally realizing that they have a product/service that they can offer to a customer, and anything that aids in attracting the customer is a good thing.

The fare isn't that overpriced. I'd imagine it's on par with other systems, given the various limitations and specific situations CTA has to deal with. I'd certainly be willing to bet that not paying for Bus Tracker would not have more than a penny or two worth impact on the fare. Likewise, very minimal effect on the amount of service that could be put on the street.

The quality of the leadership on the 5th floor of 567 is not linked to the amount of money spent on Bus Tracker, but rather to who occupies the 5th floor of City Hall. Don't believe for one second that not spending money on Bus Tracker would have given CTA even one bit better management.

On the other hand, folks trying to get around town who are trying to decide whether they should wait for the bus or hail a cab can be persuaded to wait a couple more minutes for the bus if bus tracker says one will be there shortly. It also is very helpful in deciding when to head over to the bus stop, if you're in a comfortable sheltered location, and the weather is particularly bad.

Bus Tracker is one way that a transit system such as CTA can show its customer base that it's not stuck in the 1950s, but is actually a modern, technologically innovative operation. That may not mean anything to you, but it does to the current and future customer.

#6 Railwaymodeler

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:32 PM

Fare has only barely kept up with inflation. I have an old Pace route 570 schedule from 1985 or thereabouts. I think it listed the fare as $1.20 (I am at my shop, and do not have access to the timetable right now). I went online and found an inflation calculator (Actually found a few, all gave very close to the same data). Plugged in that fare, and found that Pace fare is a few cents cheaper now than it was, when adjusted for inflation. As I have no data on old CTA fares, I will only guess that it has done similar: Only kept up with inflation, while the cost of diesel has shot up considerably beyond inflation.

The problem with transit in the USA, is that Americans just love their motor cars, but hate traffic and the costs associated. But they still drive. They complain about gas prices and being gouged. But they still drive. As it is with other matters, Americans are NOT known for voting with their feet. A modern, appealing transit system will probably attract higher ridership, but it also has to be frequent, and go just about everywhere.

Anyone see the movie 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'? That was based (loosely) on a real event: The dismantling of Pacific Electric in favor of a highway system. Out in L.A. they had a great electric interurban and streetcar system that went just about everywhere, and ridership did very well. One of my favorite lines from the movie is "That lamebrain freeway idea could have only been cooked up by a toon".

Truer words are seldom spoken in Hollywood. Now out there traffic problems are beyond fixable, smog problems are hazardous, and people are starting to wonder about mostly nonexistant alternatives.

Transit has a couple hurdles to overcome: Safety issues, real and perceived, coming from the mentality that buses are a prime place to be attacked, robbed, raped, what-have-you. This will be a tricky issue to work with. Curb appeal is important, and so is the level of service. Bus priority stoplights are a great help, as is other technology, such as Bus Tracker and Webwatch. If someone KNOWS a bus is coming, then likely s/he will wait for it, as opposed to hailing a cab, as pointed out already.

#7 Busjack

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:26 PM

Plugged in that fare, and found that Pace fare is a few cents cheaper now than it was, when adjusted for inflation. As I have no data on old CTA fares, I will only guess that it has done similar: Only kept up with inflation, while the cost of diesel has shot up considerably beyond inflation.


The only official thing on that is in CTA at 45, which, of course, is now 20 years old. The graph on that one is deceptive, in that the bus fare in 1947 starts at 10 cents, while the CPI starts at 20 cents, so while they end up even in 1992, in fact CTA bus fares were double the rate of inflation over that period; rapid transit fares including transfer to the bus at $1.80 would be 3 times the rate of inflation.

Now, I suppose that the current cost of a trip starting on the rapid transit with a bus transfer, or $2.50, should be the basis of the comparison. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, $1.80 in 1992 would be $2.92 now, so theoretically, that fare should have been $3.00 to keep up with inflation since 1992.

Of course, CTA fare practices are not comparable, as they once were initial boardings, and not the current "unlinked trip," on which CTA collects about $1.00. That takes into account transfers, cross-platform transfers, and the various passes. To the extent that various types of passes have been introduced since 1992, the fare base has been further eroded. Conversely, the percentage goes up given that you can't get a bus transfer with a cash fare, and for those persons, the $1.25 bus fare without a transfer in 1992 has close to doubled, while it should only be $2.03 now, instead of the current $2.25.

My feeling is that the big fare increases in the late 1960s and late 1970s, topped off with those necessitated when the RTA financially fell apart in 1982-1983 has made the CTA gun shy. Of course, you also have the pandering from the last and current governors on the issue of fares.

#8 SmartaMarta

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:57 PM

IMO, if you can't afford it, you don't do it. It's that simple. I personally feel and always have that all the tracker stuff is fluff and is a big waste of money. Sure, if it is there, will I use it....maybe, but I certainly don't need it. I would rather see that money spent on operations and a reduction in the overpriced fare and maybe a few good brains in the executive suite.


Let me tell you a little story about this city called Atlanta. Many residents here wish they had a tracker for the buses like you guys, and if you think your fare is overpriced, try paying $2.50 to ride a system that isn't even half as sophisticated and as far reaching as the CTA.

You guys have what... 8 train lines? We have 4.
You have 2 airports? We have just one big one.
You have an elevated train that can loop around buildings. We have... trees.

If you really compare yourself to other cities, you should see how good you guys really have it.

#9 Busjack

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:51 AM

Let me tell you a little story about this city called Atlanta. Many residents here wish they had a tracker for the buses like you guys, and if you think your fare is overpriced, try paying $2.50 to ride a system that isn't even half as sophisticated and as far reaching as the CTA.

You guys have what... 8 train lines? We have 4.
You have 2 airports? We have just one big one.
You have an elevated train that can loop around buildings. We have... trees.

If you really compare yourself to other cities, you should see how good you guys really have it.


My sister said she didn't like Atlanta because it had too many bees.

The issue, however, isn't how many lines or airports, but whether they serve the demand of the passengers in the area. For instance, City officials, including the Mayor, say that most of the lines are broken down, including him discovering during his first campaign that one that got $250 million of work about 6 years ago needs another $400-$600 million of work. According to the Slow Zone map, the Pink Line, which was supposedly rebuilt to modern standards 8 years ago has a structural slow zone. Bus service was reduced 20% two years ago. We have a fleet of 225 buses sitting in the yards because there is litigation over whether they are structurally deficient, and the Mayor came out to inaugurate new L cars that were quickly taken out of service. I don't think that having a 120-year old L structure ringing the Loop is an asset.

In the meantime, Atlanta may have one airport, but it is the largest in the U.S., and there is still squabbling whether the airlines will pay for expanding O'Hare, and a certain ethically challenged Congressman thinks he will get to build a third.

On the other hand CTA does seem to be ahead of the curve on the Trackers.



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