Is this why CTA can’t coordinate?

Tracks 1 and 2 at Howard Station (Transit Riders’ Authority photo)

The failure of the Chicago Transit Authority to coordinate its services is evident to regular riders. I have long attributed this to misplaced priorities, which seek to serve the interests of contractors, politicians, and certain employees, rather than passengers or the public in general.

But this picture implies that I’m wrong.  CTA do a pretty poor job of facilitating convenient transfer from Yellow and Purple Line trains to Red Line trains at Howard Street,   but this may have nothing to do with priorities or competence.  Rather, the problem seems to be that Track 1 is in a different time zone from Track 2, so if passengers actually were able to transfer between trains on these two tracks they’d enter some sort of time warp, perhaps endangering their very existence and ability to pay taxes.  Safety has always been CTA’s number one priority.  (In the photo, both tracks are occupied by Red Line trains, so no transferring takes place.  The practice of putting Red Line trains on both southbound tracks enables CTA to hold Yellow and Purple Line trains outside the station, preventing the dangerous practice of passengers transferring directly.)

Transit advocates get more options

Not more transit options; we’re still stuck with CTA bus, CTA rail, Pace bus, and Metra rail.  But now we have more advocacy options. None of them is easy to join. A biased summary (listed in descending order of web site quality) is:

  • If you believe transit’s main problem is that it doesn’t have enough money to spend, you can support the (newly-announced) Riders for Better Transit. It seems that you can’t exactly become a member; you can only click a box to show your support, and/or join the parent organization, Active Transportation Alliance.
  • If you believe that transit workers are good, kind, noble, and generous, but management is foolish, and, yeah, more money is probably needed too, you can join Citizens Taking Action.  The site gives no indication about how one could join, but does announce, and by implication invite one to, their next meeting.
  • If you think transit riders’ main problem is that transit investments and operations are poorly planned and poorly managed, a lot of money is wasted, and, if any more money is needed, it should come from a tax on land value, because land value reflects (among other things) the quality of public transportation, then you’re invited to support The Transit Riders’ Authority. Find where  it says “join TRA! Here’s a membership application:”  There is no membership application, but a PO Box, phone number and email address are given; perhaps they work.