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You Dirty, Dirty Train, You

By Jocelyn Geboy in Miscellaneous on Mar 16, 2007 9:13PM

Chicagoist wants you all to go to this story and look at the expression on CTA Board President Carole Brown's face as she rides a bus this February. Classic. The picture accompanies an article detailing Brown's plan to have the CTA's Office of Inspector General do an audit to see if buses and trains are cleaned as often and thoroughly as they should be.

At a board meeting Wednesday, Brown was given the party line that buses and trains are cleaned and swept daily, but she said it didn't make sense given the growing number of complaints she gets from riders (you can read and comment on Brown's blog here). The CTA says that more extensive cleanings are done every 18 days for buses -- nearly twice as often as reported in 2005 -- and every 33 days for rail cars. Brown and some other board members also thought it was pretty sketch that for a system that provides more than 1 million rides a day, there were only 197 complaints about dirty trains and buses combined for 2006.

2007_03candycta.jpgChicagoist is normally on trains that are neutrally clean/dirty. Then there is the very rare sparkling train, which must have just got the mega-sanitation. Then, a little more frequently is the exploded train, filled with chicken bones, empty hulls of sunflower seeds and candy and food wrappers galore. We wholeheartedly subscribe to the Broken Window theory: if a train or bus is allowed to remain dirty, people will continue to add to the chaos and decay.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said they're assigning more cleaning crews to the Red Line, but also that "trash doesn't come out of thin air," in reference to people breaking rules and bringing food and drinks on the el. Chicagoist would like everyone to go to this CTA press release concering concession stands on Jan. 28, 2004. In part, it reads:

"CTA concession stands offer customers a variety of products and services that include, but are not limited to, newspapers and magazines, film processing, express mail service, shoe repair, gifts, sundries and notions and photocopy and fax services. ...a gourmet coffee shop inside the North/Clybourn station on the Red Line that will offer a variety of bakery items, bottled beverages, juices and coffee drinks. ... newspaper stands, florist shops and convenience stores at its remaining locations. ... offer traditional concession items such as newspapers and snacks."

Chicagoist would love to know where the film developing and florist shops are, but the bigger point is -- if you don't want people bringing food on the el, don't sell it at the station!! We occasionally like a coffee roll from Dunkin' Donuts, so we don't mind (and we don't leave our crap on the train, either!). But seriously, trash doesn't come out of thin air -- often it comes out of the concession stands you put in the stations, Frank!

"Whether or not I really believe our customer service has slacked off . . . is less important than whether the people who take the time to come down here and voice their concerns believe it," Brown said. "Perception is everything."

"Breakfast" by TheeErin