Thursday, July 31, 2008


I’ve been debating with myself for awhile now. I wanted to write this entry much earlier in the summer when I was very impressionable, but it goes without saying that a lot has happened since then.

As this summer draws to a close, I cannot go without writing about my love-hate relationship with the Chicago Transit Authority. For the second largest public transportation system in the country, the CTA is a work of art. The 200-plus bus routes in the city vein through the city. Yet, there is a clear method to the madness as buses and trains speed across the metropolis, bringing residents to and from their homes, offices, favorite stores and attractions.

At first I loved the CTA. A bus would pick me up a block away from my apartment and drop me off a block away from the PepsiCo office. The ride lasted a whole ten minutes maybe. The “public transit” link on Google maps made navigating the routes a breeze, and I would criss-cross the city going from destination to destination. Plus, in the ever-disappointing area of gas prices, I am proud to say that thanks to the CTA I have not spent one red cent on gasoline. Thus, I also drastically reduced my carbon footprint, especially when I took the trains. The trains, which were conveniently placed around the city, brought me from Wrigley field to Oak Park to my apartment.

Yet, it seemed the more I vocalized my delight with the CTA, the more the CTA seemed to fail to deliver. It was easy to ignore at first; the bus took about ten minutes to arrive every so often. But then, it became standard for certain lines to always run late. Then, it was every day that I’d approach my daily morning bus stop, and I would be about 30 years away, see the bus arrive, start jogging towards it, then watch as the bus rolled away second before I made it to the bus. What was more painful was to wait for half an hour, and then have two buses of the same number to pull up at the same time. The must despicable of incidents occurred when I had watched a bus pull away, and then waited for the next bus to come, only to see it blaze past the bus stop, not even slowing to pick me up. Lines 12, 38, and 8, they are the ones I used the most and were probably the least punctual.

Still, I cannot completely condemn the CTA, because if it were not for the public transit system, I would not have been able to see as much of the city as I have. From here to there, the CTA carried me through Chicago allowing me to take the biggest bite out of the city as I could, and as much as I was disappointed in the lack of punctuality in certain bus lines, I cannot overlook the what a gift it was to see the city. Plus, my I have nothing my respect for the rail lines. Although many routes were under construction, the trains were always on time, swift and efficient.

So, after everything is said and done, I don’t know how I’m going to look back on the CTA. As much tough love as I’d administer, I doubt it’s going to make a difference. My relationship with the Chicago Transit Authority is, and will be, one of both fond memories and frustration. CTA, keep doing as you do, and I’ll appreciate it, despite the mishaps we’ve had along the way.

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