CTA Changes Keep Riders On Their Toes


Editor’s Note: The following story was written by an advanced student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

I had to register at Malcolm X College for the fall 2013 semester to continue my educational career towards becoming a paramedic. I do not care for the registration process because it takes a long time. After purchasing my books, taking my ID picture and getting my class schedule, I stood in this gigantic line waiting to get my U-Pass for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

That was the last time I’ll have to go through that process.

That’s because like all of the city, the City Colleges are transitioning to the Ventra pass for riding the CTA. The Ventra pass for students is a blue card with your picture and a magnetic stripe on it. The way it’s supposed to work is you hold it in front of the machine and it automatically reads it and gives you the “go” signal. If there’s a problem, you get a red signal.

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Closing the CTA Red Line


CTA CEO Forest Claypool (left) speaks to activists including Willie “Jr” Fleming. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Train commuters recently expressed grave concerns about the Chicago Transit Authority’s plans to completely close nine South Side Red Line ‘El’ stops for five months in spring 2013:

“I want guarantees that our voices will matter, as opposed to you opening up your ears for this evening and then doing whatever you want to do anyway,” declared one woman who attended the first public hearing on the CTA’s plans at Kennedy-King College Gymnasium at 6343 S. Halsted St., on June 21, 2012. This woman was one of a small but determined group of community residents who came out and voiced their opinions to CTA Chairman Terry Peterson and CEO Forest Claypool.

The woman speaker added that the CTA’s Green Line reconstruction some years ago was “a fiasco” in which promised services were never delivered and some stations were never restored. “We were promised one thing and got another,” she said.

During the 5-month closure, crews will work on the stations as well as the tracks from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th/Dan Ryan, replacing ties, rails, third rails and the drainage systems. The CTA’s rationale for completely closing the Red Line for this time period is to avoid the additional expense that would come from doing the project incrementally as well as inconveniences such as additional commuting time for riders, crowded trains, frequent schedule changes and multiple reroutes. CTA officials also indicated that an extended project would have fewer community jobs and no extensive shuttle bus service.

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