Monday, December 04, 2006

Letter to the CTA

I'm mailing this off to their offices, but I thougt I'd share:

December 4, 2006
A cold morning to have to walk the streets.

Office of the Inspector General
Frank Kruesi, the Pres.
Carole L. Brown, the Chairperson
Chicago Transit Authority
567 W. Lake St., 8thFloor
Chicago, IL 60661

RE: Recent fires, delays and lousy service

Dear General, Mr. President and Madam Chairperson:

I have long been a rider, and defender, of CTA trains and buses that make navigating this fair city so easy. I have never complained and have always regarded those who do to be given to complaining as a means of expressing life’s general disappointment, which they feel helpless to combat. Nevertheless, the recent outbreak of fires, electrical problems and, as of this morning, defective trains has made riding the Red Line—perhaps the busiest line of them all—rather inconvenient.

Earlier this month I was forced to evacuate the train due to a fire on the tracks near Fullerton. I, and my fellow commuters, was sandwiched underground, between two other trains and between the Clark/Division and North/Clyborn stops. I was ill that day which made walking along the narrow path adjacent to the tracks rather difficult. I managed to make it back through the tunnel to the Clark and Division stop, filthy, sick to my stomach and a few hours delayed. Yes, your company provided alternative means of transportation, but the long and the short of it is that the Red Line failed us that morning.

I let it go. Things happen. Certainly no one can predict a fire, right? I would have thought so but I heard from my roommate that another fire, some mere weeks later, sprung to life on the Red Line tracks, causing the train to be re-routed. Thankfully, I missed that calamity, but an electrical problem last week forced the re-route again, moving the train to the inner loop tracks normally utilized by the Purple and Orange lines. Okay, so I had to walk an extra block. Not too big a deal, but then, wouldn’t you know it, the train this morning, after taking considerable time to arrive, remained motionless at the Grand stop. The inevitable occurred: we were told the train was defective and that we had to evacuate.

This time I’m not so forgiving. I had to walk from Grand and State to Washington and LaSalle, not the longest of distances but in the frigid temperature (are any of you aware how cold it was this morning or do you, aware of the inefficiency of your service, drive to work?) it was no fun at all, especially when I paid my two bucks to ride a train all the way to work, smoothly, directly and in good time.

The way I see it, you guys owe me four bucks. I’m not asking for a refund for the times the train was re-routed. That I’ll allow to pass. Nor am I asking for payment for the delays. Things, as I said, happen, but it seems that fires and defects are occurring with strange regularity this season (several times within the last month alone) and when that happens I must apply Occum’s Razor, which states that the simplest explanation is probably correct. The simplest explanation seems to be that there is something very wrong with the way you are spending those recent fare increases. That or you don’t care, don’t know what you’re doing or don’t think delaying countless commuters is a matter worth considering. A simple recording of apology robotically blasted across train loudspeakers is not sufficient. You offered a service, for which I paid my fee; the service was deficient, therefore I demand a refund. Pay me my four dollars immediately.

I’ll take a check, or cash, but please remit ASAFP to the address below. I thank you for your time and hope you are warm and comfortable. In other words, I hope you don’t ride the Red Line.

Very truly yours,