Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Chicago Transit Authority is in dire straights. Again.

Look up “CTA funding problems” on Google and you get a string of articles going back into time. It is the same story each time – the CTA needs more money because ridership is down.

I propose an alternate strategy: improve the CTA riding experience and value!

The problem with the CTA is complex, but I argue that it is more about management than it is about funding. The experience of a ride is dreadful. The busses and trains are filthy to the point that not even the customers have any respect for them anymore. And the most basic feature of customer service is a turkey shoot – some CTA employees are delightful. But others are so bad they make an already bad experience horrible.

One way or another, equilibrium will be found. If more people like me get fed up with the rate increases and lousy experience, the system will ultimately collapse under its own mismanagement. Or, if the riding experience improved, if the value of each ride increased, more people would ride. If more people would ride, more people would be paying. And the system would improve.

You can read more about the history of the CTA crisis at http://www.savechicagolandtransit.com.

3 comments:

melanie said...

It's no longer about "saving mass transit," it's about saving Chicago from being that jerk snob who only allowed certain people to ride public transportation.

You just know that the bus routes being cut are on the south and west sides. CTA is becoming more gentrified, just like the city, I suppose--pushing minorities and middle class people out and off.
It's like the CTA is going to turn into the rich man's ride.

There are so many things wrong with the CTA right now, but I feel like the majority of problems happened within the last 2 years....

i just want to know when Chicago is going to say ENOUGH. stop the construction, stop the route cuts, stop the fare increases.

The key word here is PUBLIC transportation.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

We're also paying for pension funds that were probalby used as credit for year and now the CTA is being called on it. This is probably just scratching the surface of the headaches to come.

It's not just a CTA problem. It's the RTA that governs the entire metro-areas mass transit that's in trouble. I'm scared to know how much waste is occurring within this organization.

With all of the issues around energy, traffic congestion and suburban sprawl we can't afford not to have a healthy public transit system.

But I digress... the CTA does have a public image problem. I'd like to see what would happen if some type of creative campaign could generate 5% of the Chicago metro area to take one additional CTA ride a year how much that would generate instead of spending 5x the cash on cabs.

"The CTA. Let it move you." - Ha