By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
12:00 PM CDT, July 22, 2013
It should have been billed as a water ride, not a bus ride.
Going Public paid to take the No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express bus Friday afternoon at the State/Lake station to ride to Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue. As riders boarded the bus, the driver warned that the air conditioning was malfunctioning.
How bad could it be?
What was supposed to be a 10-minute bus ride turned into a sweat lodge that, unfortunately, wasn’t an out-of-body experience.
Some riders fanned themselves while others tried to open bus windows, all of which were shut. Some couldn’t stand the heat after a few stops and pulled the cord to wait for another bus while others, determined to make it to their destinations as quickly as possible, pressed water against their foreheads.
It was sticky. It was sweaty. It was smelly.
Pity the fool who thought she could keep cool on a CTA bus or train car without air conditioning.
The CTA said it works to keep its cool. Though it has heard gripes about buses and trains without air conditioning this year, the agency could not say how many complaints it has received.
Buses are programmed to maintain a temperature of 72 degrees during the summer. Riders who notice malfunctioning air conditioning are encouraged to tell the bus driver or the train operator with the call button located in each car.
On the rails, the CTA will perform special track inspections when the temperature exceeds 95 degrees before noon, or when the daily high temperature exceeds 85 degrees with sunny skies for three consecutive days or more.
Depending on rail conditions, the CTA will deploy “water trains,” which run between in-service trains and spray water on the tracks to cool the rails to prevent them from bending or shifting in the heat. The CTA said it hasn’t needed to deploy a water train this year, though it did so last summer.
The CTA said it was mechanical problems, not heat, that lead to stalled trains that caused delays on the Red Line on Saturday, the Blue Line on Friday and the Brown Line on Thursday.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Conservatory-Central Park Drive Green Line
Typically the stairs are the ugliest feature of a CTA station. Sometimes they’re rusty, sometimes they’re steep. Riders may look at a stairwell and think, ugh, I have to climb that? Not so at this East Garfield Park stop. Mosaic tiles cover the outside of the steps from a station adoption program, according to chicago-l.org, a CTA history site.
Next up: Harold Washington Library/State-Van Buren in the Loop
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