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Take Metra's survey to inform new director's agenda

Alexander Clifford, Metra’s brand-new executive director and CEO, received a warm welcome in Chicago on Tuesday — quickly followed by a frigid reception from Mother Nature.

I couldn't help but think of Clifford and his fellow Chicago-area transit agency directors this morning as I made a (valiant, if I may say so) attempt to get to work. The city's main arteries have been plowed, allowing bus service to hum along so nicely that my bus paused for a few minutes halfway between the previous stop and my stop because it was "early" by Bus Tracker standards. (I walked up and politely asked to board the bus midway between stops because I was "cold," even by a Chicagoan’s standards.)

Very few people were on the bus, so I thought it would be smooth sailing to work. But when I got to the Sheridan Red Line station, the entire platform was filled. Five trains stopped and took on as many passengers as possible, and still I waited in a crowd five deep. Fortunately, I received an e-mail from the office that we could work remotely today; so I "embraced my inner wimp," as one of my co-workers called it, and headed home to work here.

As I walked back down my block, I noticed all the cars snowed in and wondered how many people who were waiting on that platform this morning usually drive to their office. My guess: a lot of them, because my stop never looks like that. I’m sure CTA, Pace and Metra, which the Tribune reports is also experiencing delays and cancellations, are doing the best they can to accommodate higher-than-usual demand from snowed-in drivers. And while I think today's rough ride on the rails may not exactly encourage new transit ridership, I hope it does. 

Whether you ride transit regularly or frequently, you can always share your thoughts with our transit agencies through their web sites: 

Chicago Transit Authority



And this week, Metra is offering a special survey per Clifford's request, to set a baseline as he sets about to reform the agency. Fill it out to share your ideas for improving Metra – and give them a break for today, okay? 

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  1. 1. Birpal from vWuRrFnEtzk on February 28, 2012

    I went to the APTA (or NAPTA, I think one lkneid to the other) site to see if I could find out more. I didn't see a press release. I still don't know to what number or to whom I would've sent the text you mention. I did find a petition that could be signed that supported mass transit and I signed that & listed some of the reasons I think it's useful or that I use it since there was space for that.I use public transit when I can. What I have seen where I live is that too many decisions are made to benefit the wealthy. Where I live, the city would rather subsidize (by purchasing) a small general aviation airport, which is predominantly used by those who are wealthy enough to own/lease small planes and/or helicopters. Which is maybe 5% of the people living with the town's limits. A commercial shuttle has been attempted twice, one in the '90 s, again recently and this last effort, even with a substantial state transportation grant, the shuttle didn't average even 1/2 full (a 9 passenger plane) even w/a subsidized fare. The city will not even consider helping to subsidize a commute bus to the nearest large town (about 60 miles away) even though there are close links between the university there & the marine science center here. It looks like people will go the van pool route instead. There is also a right of way that could serve for a rail track from the nearest town (6 miles or so away) and the port here it could also, eventually, w/track work, serve passenger rail as well. A win/win, you'd think a commercial & passenger rail link. Not according to this city council, etc. They just want their airport paid for by taxpayers. So, I use mass transit when I can, I support it, but I don't see the PTB doing much but looking to see how to use tax dollars to support what they want.

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