Sick Transit

To the editor:

I sympathize with Carlos Clarke Drazen for her troubles with the CTA (“Killing Them With Kindness,” April 6) and I think that your headline writer was almost on target writing “The CTA’s improved access for the disabled may be just a smokescreen for deep service cuts.” I’d change “may be” to “probably is.” Have you ever noticed how many elevators are out of service in el stations on any given day? As a “service improvement” the CTA has taken to listing them on marker boards in most stations. It’s amazing. Imagine wheeling yourself to an el station–waiting for a bus to take you there would have been futile–then having to check before you get on the train whether or not you will be able to exit the station at your destination once you get off the train. It’s ridiculous. Building elevators do not break with such frequency. Why do these?

Any “service improvement” that the CTA shamelessly brags about with those stupid printed placards usually means trouble for me. The CTA “improved” the service for the 73 Armitage route a few years ago. Instead of turning around at the end of the route on Clark and returning westbound, the bus now goes all the way down Clark to North Avenue to turn around. (My guess is that the wealthy SUV drivers in the new townhouses at Armitage and Lincoln did not want those smelly buses turning around in their front yard.) Never mind that two buses already serve that stretch of Clark–the 36 and the 22. And never mind that this “improvement” means that westbound passengers wait longer for their bus.

Then when the CTA eliminated the Clybourn bus, it rerouted the 73, which now goes west on Armitage to Clybourn, northwest on Clybourn to Ashland, south on Ashland to Elston, southeast on Elston to Cortland, west on Cortland to Hermitage, north on Hermitage to Armitage all before resuming its slow westward haul on Armitage. Added to the travel time: 20 minutes–on a good day. (Friday afternoons, forget it!) Ostensibly, this “improvement” was for the benefit of the folks who work at the Anixter Center on Clybourn near Armitage–many of whom are persons with disabilities. But (1) the same folks ride now that used to ride before this stupid detour–they simply got off the bus at the corner; and (2) I suspect that this reroute was more for the (mostly yuppie-oriented) retailers on that stretch of Clybourn.

I live exactly four miles from my office and thanks to CTA improvements over the last ten years, it takes me 45 minutes on a good day to get to work. (In a car it would be 15.) And my troubles are small compared to people like Drazen. Hey–if “paratransit” doesn’t work for her, maybe she could get good old Valerie or Frank to pick her up in their chauffeur-driven car service on their way to CTA board meetings. (No lie–board members are chauffeured to meetings.)

David Philippart