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Get On the Bus

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Yes, Jack Clark, there are too many bus stops [March 31]. The CTA should be eliminating many of them--who wants to take a bus if it misses every light because it stops every block? I hope your article inspires a round of eliminations of bus stops at the CTA.

However, I think you were a tad too harsh on the agency. Here are a few things that I hope you'd agree are worth applauding.

One: the new transfer policy. This largely unheralded reform gives riders a two-hour window to take advantage of the 30-cents transfer and the free "third" transfer, allowing for a dirt-cheap round-trip errand. Previously, one couldn't use the cheap transfer on the return trip on the same line. Now you can. Thank you, CTA.

Two: naming the lines by color. Lots of non-English-speaking tourists take public transportation, and naming the el lines by color makes navigating the system much easier for those who couldn't pronounce Ravenswood, much less read it, if their life depended on it.

Three: new express bus lines that avoid the excessive bus-stop problem you've identified. The best example of this is the new Western Express route, which only stops every four blocks--at most. This allows the bus to actually get in the fast lane, make green lights, and deliver passengers almost as quickly as a car can. Whoever came up with that idea ought to get a medal.

If you'd like some other improvements that the CTA ought to make, allow me to submit a few.

One: neighborhood maps at every el stop. As mentioned earlier, tons of tourists take the el. There ought to be a map at the station telling them where to go and spend their money.

Two: run that Brown Line on Sundays through the Loop. Currently, the Brown Line only runs north of Belmont. Unfortunately, because the train doesn't loop around the Loop, it comes into Belmont on the southbound side of the tracks, picks up passengers, and then reverses course to zoom up north again. Every Sunday, bewildered passengers (especially those non-English speakers) are left waiting on the northbound side of the tracks for the Brown Line train to pick them up. If the Brown Line ran a normal schedule on Sundays and whipped around the Loop, no one would have any problems at the Belmont station, and the tons of people moving to River North and the Loop could take the el all week.

Three: integrate with Metra. The CTA has done a good job hooking up with Pace--the transit cards work on both lines. There's got to be a way to let riders transfer between the Metra lines and the CTA. The CTA has taken a decent first step by announcing on the el that passengers in downtown stations can walk to Metra stations. Next thing would be to honor Metra tickets as a CTA transfer, and vice versa.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger

S. Ellis

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