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Whole new world for CTA riders?

CTA riders had mixed reactions about their commute Monday, the first workday since the agency's service cuts and additions took effect.

Steffany Amacher of Lakeview typically takes the No. 80-Irving Park bus, the Brown Line and the Red Line to the Loop for work in the morning. On Monday, she noticed the Brown Line was less crowded, the Red Line was still crowded and the Irving Park bus had not changed.

"On the Brown Line, there weren't seats, but I didn't feel like a sardine in a can. That's a pretty good improvement," said Amacher, 28. "The Red Line, I'm used to it being packed. I usually get on there about 7:30. There were a lot of people waiting to get on at Sheridan. It was already pretty full when I got on."

To try to ease crowding across the system, the CTA added 17 trips to six rail lines during rush periods, including three southbound Blue Line trips from Rosemont during the morning. Brown Line riders were supposed to see their wait time in the morning decrease from between 3 and 8 minutes to between 3 and 5 minutes.

Additional buses also were added to 48 of the most popular bus routes—though more than a dozen routes saw complete or partial route elimination. Those include the No. 11 Lincoln bus, which no longer runs between the Western and Fullerton Brown Line stations, and the No. 145 Wilson/Michigan Express, which was completely discontinued. The service changes didn't cost the CTA anything, the agency said.

Amacher gave the service changes 3.5 out of 5 stars based on her commute Monday. Other riders weren't as kind.

When Going Public asked riders via Twitter about their Monday morning commute, a few riders expressed frustration with having to change their trips to make up for the loss of the No. 11 bus. A couple of riders complained about the crowding on the No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, which saw an influx of riders and buses to make up for the elimination of the No. 145 bus.

Some said the Red Line was still packed, while others said it wasn't as crowded.

The real test of the service changes, however, may come in January after people return to work from the holidays.

For Lisa Zimmer of River North, the CTA service changes didn't affect her commute, just her potential for love.

Zimmer, who typically walks the mile to work in the Loop, would occasionally ride the No. 123 Illinois Center/Union Express when the weather was bad. Sometimes when she rode the bus, she would spot her dreamboat—a 6-foot-2 blond man who got off at the same stop she did. She never worked up the courage to talk to him.

On Monday, the weekday-only route was eliminated.

"I sort of had this thought like, 'Oh, I missed my chance,'' said Zimmer, 35. "The CTA is keeping us apart now."

Holiday Train spotting

The annual CTA Holiday Train finishes its run this week. Tuesday and Saturday, it's on the Red Line. Wednesday and Saturday, it's on the Purple Line. It's on the Yellow Line on Thursday. Spot the train? Snap a photo and send to tswartz@tribune.com or post it to Twitter and tag it with #holidaytrainspotting for GP's annual holiday train gallery.

Riders Block

My pledge to ride a CTA bus along every route from start to finish continues. As part of the service changes that took effect this week, the CTA created two new bus routes: the No. 37-Sedgwick and the No. 115-Pullman/115th.

Up next: No. 37-Sedgwick


A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Pulaski Blue Line

Not to trash talk, but this West Garfield Park station has a garbage problem. Litter lines the tracks in both directions. It doesn't help that the station parallels the Eisenhower Expressway, where drivers undoubtedly through their garbage out their car windows and onto the tracks—but it appears some of this refuse has been there a while. Even worse, when Going Public visited this station Friday morning, four large garbage bags labeled CTA greeted riders outside the Pulaski Road entrance to the station. That's rubbish.

Next up: Harlem Blue Line on Forest Park branch


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