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?