CTA News

A couple tidbits on the CTA:

According to the Chicago Tribune, the threatened closure of 15 Brown Line stations during the 5-year overhaul of stations along its line will become a reality, though not exactly as anticipated. Chicagoist breaks down the impact, with stations either closing only on weekends or closed temporarily on weekday and weekends.

Missing image - montrose.jpg

Living near the Brown Line's Montrose station (pictured), I have to admit I'm disappointed. What's a relatively dependable means of getting someplace - especially work - will become a non-entity for much of the time, and most likely a frustration the rest of the time.

For those unfamiliar with the project, the goal of the overhaul is to accommodate eight cars on trains over the current limit of six. This entails extending platforms, which is easier said than done, since some extensions require land acquisition (via eminent domain) and building demolition. Also, since the CTA is public, all renovations must meet ADA Guidelines, meaning elevators and additional stairs must be added, entailing even more building demolition that impacts many businesses directly, particularly Beans and Bagels and the Tiny Lounge. The CTA is closing the stations to help pay for the renovations, totaling upwards of $400-500 million, as I recall.

In other CTA news, the Tribune is also reporting that our favorite local public transportation entity will purchase upwards of 700 "New York-style" train cars.

Missing image - CTA.jpg
Tribune photo

Currently the cars consist mainly of forward- and backward-facing seats, with two side-by-side on each side of the aisle. This reduces the size of the aisle for those standing and makes it an imposition for the person by the window to exit past another passenger. Also, the only handles for those standing in the aisle is on the back of the seat, a low center of gravity that doesn't help when the train comes to a sudden stop.

NYC-style trains on the other hand, have seats facing the generous aisle, with high bars and straps for those standing to hold onto, a more sensible location for stability. What's most surprising is that this configuration would not eliminate any seats versus the CTA's current configuration.

So this issue is a no-brainer to me, but I wonder how the CTA - an organization that needs to close the above Brown Line stations to save money - can afford these cars, without alienating the riders in the meantime.


  1. Those new cars sound great, but I share your concern about funding the purchase. It's not even two months since the day that the fair strike almost started and the CTA hastily averted implementing cuts. It's less than six months before the deadline for increasing state funding. The system is in deep trouble. Perhaps the end result will be better rides but fewer of them.

  2. John, Now that your transportation is shot and is becoming "New York'd" why not just move here to New York?

    Indeed the most incredible change I have witnessed in my transition from Chicago to NYC is the proficiency of the New York City metro system. It really is quite an amazing system. Big difference is that the CTA is such that if you live on a line its fine (outside of the 15 - 20 minute gaps between trains). Out this way, it is literally the veins and arteries (pardon the obvious cliche) of a highly complex network of cogs. Each sub-region within a bourough has all its little cogs that lube and churn out its residences and pats them on the head. With full belly and kaaffee, blaaak, creem no shooga, eh?, the subway wisks the people away and transplants then in a totally new world just a few miles away. Truely remarkable.

    As for me however, my commute this past Monday, three different train lines, two busses and 3 1/2 hours later i arrived at work. remarkably at 9:15. couldn't sleep . . . . thermostat at my temp apt read 49 degrees. My official hazing I suppose.

    Check these articles on the subway meltdown

    brandon pass

  3. Michael: Part of the goal of the Brown Line renovation is that an increase in #cars per train = reduction in number of trains. So fewer rides is definitely going to happen one way or the other, it's just a matter if there's fewer riders after the CTA frustrates north-siders beyond belief. We'll see what happens...

    BP: I agree that the subway in NYC is awesome; like Tokyo it's THE WAY to get around. About the only problem is east-west travel on Manhattan...but I guess it's not that far across!

    The next time you're free, take the train out to Coney Island one of the elevated lines. It's a fun ride with interesting sites along the way.

  4. Hey John,

    As my gf is off the Brown Line Montrose stop this will, to quote Bart Simpson, "Both suck and blow." Hopefully this won't mean fewer trains, but less crowded trains at rushhour. Then again, it probably will.

    I just wanted to ask you, did you ever notice the airstream trailer visible on someone's roof northeast of the Montrose Station? I have seen potted plants on the roof, but I've never seen signs of (human) life up there.

  5. Gotta love a good Simpsons quote!
    I seem to recall the rooftop w/Airstream you're talking about. I'll look for it next time I'm riding, though it sounds like I might need to keep going to Damen to get a good view. I used to live off of the Western stop and that's probably when I saw it previously.

  6. All this discussion about subways merely serves to remind me how increasingly inadequate our Toronto system has become. Somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, a bridge was built across the Don Valley, and it was built to accommodate a future subway--one that didn't arrive for 50 years! Now that's planning ahead. Who knows what would have happened to development this side of the valley (where I live) had civic planners chosen to not think of the future. Now, it takes ten years to add a new line containing a measly five stations that few people actually use because the location was politically motivated and is just wrong wrong wrong. In the meantime, areas of the City that could use more public transit do without, and what there is declines in both quality of infrastructure and frequency of the trains. It all has to do with intergovernmental wrangling and don't get me started!


  7. [Moved by web page administrator from original HaloScan comment box]:It seems from the discussions that the large cities make their subways functional by necessity. I thought Paris's Metro was great when I lived there. I have found here in Montreal that the city is not populated enough to create unbearable traffic problems and necessitate an extensive subway/ bus system. The traffic to get to work is relatively not bad compared to cities two to five times larger.

    Chicago though seems to be somewhere in between. The traffic is bad and the public transport seems inadequate. It seems most of the city is still not dense enough like the bigger cities to support subway extensions. The Brown line on the other hand is in dire need of this renovation. The ridership has jumped two-fold over the last decade. It will suck until it's finished, but should be so much better afterward.


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