Chicago Sun-Times

What CTA Stations Really Need Work?

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On Wednesday, the Chicago Department of Transportation gave details of a $67 million project to upgrade the Grand and State subway station. See story here:,station032608.article

Certainly the Grand and State station is dingy and dimly lit. But do other stations need the rehab more?

Keep in mind that the City Department of Transportation is doing this fix -- not the CTA. The city is using mostly federal money. The city chose this station because it's a busy stop that gets a lot of people visiting the city.

Here's a rendering of what the Grand and State platform would like like after the rehab:
Platform - After

Floyd Long in the Sun-Times story commented that other stations, particularly on the Green Line, could use the money more. What do Ride readers think? Can you think of some grungy stations in need of a serious makeover?

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The worst station for me is Clark & Lake. Who wants to share the platform with nasty Pigeons trotting around on the platform, flying all around so close to your face and feathers and drippings everywhere. Many people get creamed standing on that platform. You can forget it in the winter with the birds trying to keep warm. I will walk an extra mile than set foot on that platform.

*Most of the Purple Line excluding Davis and Linden.
*The Loop elevated stations excluding Clark/Lake, Washington/Wells & Library.
*The Congress Branch of the Blue Line excluding Forest Park, Medical District and UIC/Halsted.
*Grand/State, Clark/Division & most of the downtown subways excluding Clark/Lake, Lake Red Line and Jackson Red & Blue & Roosevelt Red.
*Most of the Red Line on the North Side excluding Loyola, Granville, and Addison.
*Most of the Blue Line O'Hare branch excluding O'Hare, Jefferson Park, Harlem, Cumberland, and Rosemont.
*Cermak Chinatown and Garfield on the Red Line Dan Ryan Branch.

I wonder if the guy quoted in the story knew he was going to be printed? Because if he did he wouldn't have said something so silly.

As a South Sider, I know the Green Line stations that were rehabbed a only a decade ago are still OK. I do believe many of them are not being maintained as well as they need to be, and if they don't address that then consequently we'll be talking about their decrepit condition in a future much closer than the CTA envisioned when they first rehabbed them. But now they should not be on any reasonable rider's list.

I fully agree that the condition of the stations and track of the Red Line north of Addison are lousy, and it makes no sense that the CTA is not well into the planning stages of a grossly overdue, massive overhaul of that stretch. I also think James Cappelman raises a good point: The CTA is as poor at real estate management as it is at transit system operation. In that way it is an extension of the City...

Sticking closer to the topic and the criteria of the subject: The Grand station, as a major stop for both residents and out-of-towners, is way overdue for a new look. I have no problem with them prioritizing it. But there needs to be funds made available for CDOT to work on the rest of the subway stations that haven't already been redone and are still in crappy shape. Fast.

@Lynne: The red signs at California are from the old AB station system, a red sign was for an A only station

In the subway - Harrison on the red line. In general, Wilson on the red line is one of the worst among heavily used stations. Chicago on the blue line could use some clean-up too.

I use the California Blue Line stop every day and while it could definitely use some work, I would be even more pleased if Division got some much-needed assistance. It's the darkest, dankest subway station I patronize on a somewhat regular basis. Water (God, I hope it's water...) is always dripping everywhere - there are stalactites of mineral deposits all over the cracked and crumbling ceilings and supports. Shoddy repairs abound, there are massive puddles after the briefest shower, and it usually smells of mold and mildew. The platform is long, not well-lit, and I have seen some pretty appalling things happen down there. Ugh.

PLEASE fix Midway!!!!!! It's extremely busy and one of the first impressions vistiors get of our city.

No heat lamps are outside, people waiting inside for buses and blocking/congesting the area, so it's difficult to get in or out.

Put some more benches outside... it needs major improvements.

at the very least the steps at MORSE. we have many blind people in our neighborhood who unnecessarily trip up and down the stairs because of the gouges and missing tile pieces. oh yah, and then THE STENCH.

The only station that is well lit is Jackson&State. What about the rest of the loop stations? They could use a overhall as well.

Wilson, but that's an el stop and ineligible. For subways, the Chicago blue line stop. Wading through the puddles of sewage at this stop is the most disgusting part of my day. The tile stairs are worn down to a slant, and are slick with grease and water. It's great that seniors can ride for free but it won't be so great if they slip and fall on the greasy tile stairs.

The Belmont and Logan Square stations on the Blue Line have been the same dingy, gray, dirty, and dimly lit stations since the 80's.

Wilson, Wilson, Wilson. This station is falling down. And the rail road ties on the overhead tracks leading to it are literally falling down and breaking the windshields of cars passing underneath. How much worse can a station get?

The California stop of the Blue Line needs help. It's obvious where the line is drawn as far as neighborhoods go. Damen is historic, Western is modern and clean, California unpainted, barely hanging doors, a great view of dumpsters and garbage cans and Logan Square - very well lit and clean. Need I say more?

One more question - my 11 year old nephew wants to know, if the Blue Line stops at California, why are all the signs red?

The Wilson Red Line stop indeed needs an overhaul, something beyond the piecemeal work that has occurred there. I'm sure that in it's heyday the main Wilson station was gorgeous, but those days are long gone. However, it's not the only station on the north end of the Red Line that could benefit from work. The Jarvis stop, with it's seemingly perpetual inside puddles could benefit from rehabilitation. And though they're nowhere as dismal as Wilson, Jarvis, and Howard (which is being rehabbed) the stations at Sheridan, Argyle, Bryn Mawr and Morse could use a little love as well.

Physical rehab though, can only do so much. Selfish and irresponsible people are also to blame for a fair share of the negative feeling at many stations. A greater law enforcement presence could possibly help reduce some of the anti-social behavior that makes riding the L unpleasant at times. Until then, if you see something, say something . . . multiple times.

I think I'd be happy if they just fixed the drainage at Grand and State. There's always puddles everywhere in that station.

The CTA station that needs A WHOLE LOT OF HELP is the Wilson stop on the Red line. Uptown is trying to become well diversed by welcoming those other than hoodlums and therefore we need a clean, well-lit and secured el stop to use...most people are scared to get off at the stop and would prefer walking from a different stop instead. PLEASE HELP US UP HERE!!!!!!

I think the four grungiest stations are on the O'Hare Blue line:
Grand, Chicago, Division and California. Of those four, I think the three underground ones need the most work from a passenger safety perspective. There are too many secluded spots on the platform where nefarious acts can take place: at minimum, people using them as toilets, at worst committing attacks on other passengers. Naturally, as a cyclist with bad knees, I'd love to see all of them become handicapped accessible.

Station beautification is just icing on the cake; if it's masking a problem, it'll only be resented. They (CTA, City Dept. Trans, whoever) shouldn't spend a cent on station beautification untill all the "slow zones" are eliminated and all the track, switches, and PA systems are upgraded. If the trains are running fast and on-time, the riding public won't worry about aging stations.

As for the Grand, Halsted and Milwaukee station, they should use higher wattage bulbs and I'd be satisfied.

And as for stations that actually need improvement, they should look to Montrose and the Kennedy; the excalator has beeen out of order for 6 months.



Red Line Wilson Station.

They should install urinals at ground level so people can stop peeing halfway up the stairs.

Wilson Red Line Stop... more gritty than most.

The California station on the Blue Line.

It is really busy and certainly looks nothing like the Grand and State station. It looks like it is closed.

Wilson. Wilson. Wilson.

For over 10 years the Uptown community has been promised a rehabbed Wilson L Station. Other stations have taken needed steps to increase security while the Wilson L gets ignored.

If you go to the Chicago Police website Clear Map and look at crime on the census tract where this L station is located (Census Tract 031600), the rates of drug abuse arrests for the past 12 months are 5 times higher than the city's mean score; aggressive battery arrests are 3 times higher, robberies are 5 times higher, and violent crime arrests are 4 times higher. All that, and the Wilson L has one of the worst designs to promote a greater sense of safety. Meanwhile, CTA-owned storefronts on this same block have remained empty for close to 10 years.

If CTA won't rehab the station, the least they could do is put up security cameras (as is done at other busy L stops) and move the turnstiles on the 1st floor (as is done at other busy L stops). It's time for the CTA to aggressively market their empty store fronts that have left our retail district blighted for too many years. Renters of these storefronts should be give requirements to keep their storefront window displays open for people to see inside & outside to promote a sense of safety and no scissor gates should be permitted. It makes our neighborhood look like a prison. Storeowners also need to be trained how to respond to the aggressive panhandling and public drinking that ravages this area.

As residents in Uptown, we're not asking to be treated better. We're just asking for the same treatment that other neighborhoods get. We shouldn't have to beg to be treated equally.

Grand needs the update -- it's dark and grimy and floods sometimes. The Wilson stop on the red line needs a complete overhaul, too. It's poorly laid out, filthy, smelly, and falling apart -- the ceiling is falling in several places, the stairs are rickety and sometimes broken, and the boards on the platform are loose in several places.

How about the Wilson El Stop? Does anyone from the CTA ever use that stop. I guess not because if they did there would some attempt to fix it. We are talking about more than dirt. It is unsafe and falling apart. The tracks that cross over Broadway have serious cracks and concrete is regularly falling onto the road. Parts of the ceiling fell down over a year ago and have not even been fixed.

How about the Wilson El Stop? Does anyone from the CTA ever use that stop. I guess not because if they did there would some attempt to fix it. We are talking about more than dirt. It is unsafe and falling apart. The tracks that cross over Broadway have serious cracks and concrete is regularly falling onto the road. Parts of the ceiling fell down over a year ago and have not even been fixed.

Of course, we can all think of stations that need renovation: Wilson on the Red is a busy station that is absolutely awful, for instance. But launching this question on the back of a Grand/State renovation is a red herring. The Chicago Department of Transportation (read this story, for heaven's sake!) owns and has responsibility for all the SUBWAY stations; how many Green Line stations are in the subway? Precisely none. All ground level and elevated stations are the responsibility of the CTA, which is hamstrung by no available capital dollars. You want stations renovated? Put pressure on Senate President Emil Jones to stop playing interference for an irrelevant governor and get a capital bill through Springfield.

Grand/State needs this renovation bigtime. The rendering looks great to me.

Other grungy stations that need a serious makeover:

Most Blue Line stations from Clark to Rosemont

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