Which CTA honchos ride CTA?

July 29, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

The chairman of the CTA board—which makes decisions on fare increases, station construction and service cuts, among other CTA matters—rode the CTA 18 times last year.

Chairman Terry Peterson, appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009, boarded the CTA eight times this year through June, according to ridership data requested by RedEye through the Freedom of Information Act (click to see the data or scroll to bottom). Peterson did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the perks afforded to CTA employees and its seven board members is that they can ride the system for free with their CTA-issued cards—but some don't take advantage of this opportunity to see the system through the eyes of a rider.

Longtime board member Alejandro Silva rode the CTA 10 times last year while Rev. Charles Robinson took it twice last year. Robinson rode the CTA zero times this year through June, according to the data.

CTA President Forrest Claypool, appointed by Mayor Emanuel in 2011, fared better. He rode the CTA 160 times last year, which is about three times a week. This year through June, he has taken the CTA 92 times, which is on track to beat his ridership last year.

"[Claypool] also occasionally boards trains and buses without using his employee ID such as when he's traveling to events and meetings and [customer assistants]/operators let him board," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told Going Public.

"In addition to riding buses and trains, he spends a lot of time in the field, visiting bus garages, rail terminals and maintenance facilities to ensure that efficient, well-managed service is being put forth."

The data only covers rides the board member or employee took with their free CTA card.

Some board members are all over the system.

Kevin Irvine, appointed by Emanuel in 2011, rode 473 times last year and 296 times through June. Ashish Sen, appointed by Gov. Quinn in 2012, has taken the CTA 108 times this year through June.

Longtime board member Jacquelyne Grimshaw rode the CTA 191 times last year and 102 times this year through June.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren

This Loop stop, which has the distinction of having the longest name of any CTA station, is a popular spot for DePaul and Robert Morris University students, library-goers and pigeons. For the CTA's part, you can tell the agency is trying to abate the pigeon problem with spikes and netting. Unfortunately, pigeon feathers get caught in the netting and it's not a sight worth checking out at the library spot.

Next up: Cicero Blue Line

tswartz@tribune.com


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