The CTA reminds its riders that the new higher fares are coming Jan. 1, but not until 6 a.m. Between 8 p.m. New Year's Eve and 6 a.m. New Year's Day you can ride for a penny. Here's where you can find the press release on both subjects. Parking rates are going up, too, at CTA park-and-ride lots and at downtown lots and garages. Happy new year, anyway.
December 2008 Archives
As Chicagoans continue to enjoy their variable weather, the Ride wondered -- did anyone take the city's advice and clear out those catch basins on their blocks to allow the rainwater to get in?
How are readers coping with the weather? Your Ride reporter would love to get on a plane and freeload on my Arizona relations for a couple of weeks, but alas, no vacation time.
The headline on this entry refers to the Dr. Seuss book "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" about a king who wants something new to fall from the sky. It's a great story about how do you don't always want what you think you want, and even the high and proud need to say they are sorry.
Today's cranky commuter topic -- when the police don't follow traffic laws.
A lot of readers say they get angry when they see a squad car blowing through a red light, without using his sirens. I've also gotten several reader letters about illegal parking when the officers are not responding to an emergency, but going to breakfast. Why is this OK? Aren't police officers, like parents, supposed to set a good example for us civilians?
Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond explained to me that officers are exempt from traffic rules like stopping at red lights and stop signs when they're on duty, because they're on patrol and have to keep moving. "For a number of reasons tactically, they should be mobile and continuing to move whenever necessary," Bond said. She said even when it's not an obvious emergency which requires sirens and lights, patrol cars are constantly hearing calls over their radios, and need to move quickly.
Bond said patrol cars aren't supposed to do anything that would impede public safety, like parking at fire hydrants.
What do you think? Should the police be allowed to disregard stop signs when they're on patrol, as long as they're safe about it?
This week's "Ride" trivia question was: In this 1967 movie, the protagonists make their escape on public transit -- a municipal bus.
What's the movie? The answer is "The Graduate." Here's to you, Dorothy Egeland, you were the first with the correct answer. If you send me your mailing address and your size, I can send you a Sun-Times T-shirt. Congratulations.
This morning's Sun-Times "Ride" column featured a story about the homeless on the CTA. A few months back the CTA posted signs at Red and Blue Line terminals reminding passengers that continuous riding on a sign fare is prohibited. CTA officials said this was not directed at the homeless -- but homeless advocates fear it's a sign of a crackdown on homeless riders -- at a time when the number of homeless is growing.
There's an interesting discussion going on about this story in the comments section -- looking at both sides of the issue. I want to ask here on the blog -- what else can the CTA, or should the CTA do, to help the homeless on the system?
The first Chicago elevated train to use the uncovered, third-rail electrical power system was the Columbian Intramural Railway, which carried visitors to the 1893 World's Fair, according to Greg Borzo's book "The Chicago 'L.'" No one had the answer, so we'll try again next week.
This isn't really a crank, but a concern. Has anyone else noticed the uptick in "exit beggars?" I mean the people who hang around near the expressway exits with "Homeless, Hungry, Please Help" cardboard signs. I used to just see them at an occasional exit -- now I see them at nearly every exit on the Kennedy, and at many intersections, standing in the cold, weaving between cars, shaking the cup.
These folks are worrisome, because they can be pretty insistent on going from car to car and I worry about hitting someone. It also looks like an awfully cold and dangerous way to make a living. I'm guessing the increase is due to the economy, and perhaps the shortage of other resources (see story here). I used to give money, but because I've lost friends to alcoholism, I decided it's a bad idea to give cash to people you don't know -- in case they're using it to feed addictions. It's like giving people money to help them poison themselves. So when I can remember, I keep a box of granola bars under the front seat, so I can give that away instead. The bars go fast -- I gave away two just going back and forth to work Wednesday. And, yeah, sometimes I just keep the window rolled up and look straight ahead.
I called the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to see if they've noticed an increase in this kind of begging. They said they haven't monitored this -- but wouldn't be surprised. Meanwhile, I was wondering, how are other drivers handling this?
Since I first posted this entry, I found out from Illinois State Police Lt. Luis Gutierrez that the police prosecutes "exit beggars" for improper walking on the roadway and improper solicitation of business on the roadway. If someone is a repeat offender, he or she may also be charged with trespassing. Gutierrez said people who want to complain about people begging on the exit ramps can call *999 or 911.
The number of people cited for soliciting business on a roadway has crept up since last year. In 2008, 14 people were cited in Chicago, and 17 statewide. In 2007, it was three in Chicago and six statewide.
For walking on a roadway, the number is down, with 12 receiving citations in Chicago this year, and 61 receiving them statewide. In 2007, the number was 19 in Chicago and 70 statewide.
On this freezing cold December day -- ground was broken for the new Metra station in west suburban Bellwood. The new station will replace the current Bellwood and
Melrose Park stations and anchor a 55-acre retail and housing development.
One of the prime movers for the station was U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.). Asked if he was surprised that the station is finally going up after months of negotiations between the village and Union Pacific, which controls the tracks, Davis said he was "pleasantly delighted."
"While I wouldn't call it a miracle, It's a certainly a great Christmas present for the people in the western suburbs," said Davis at the groundbreaking.
Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale said the project is the first brand new Metra station being built in a mainly minority community.
The plans include a traffic underpass at 25th Avenue, a pedestrian bridge so
commuters don't have to cross the tracks and a way to deal with
excess water from nearby Addison Creek.
The new station, to be completed next year, will be located at
about 29th Avenue, north of Grant Street.
The Metra station and a two-story parking garage will cost between
$10 million and $15 million, funded by TIF bonds.
When was the uncovered, third-rail electrical power system first used for a Chicago elevated train? The first with the correct answer gets a Sun-Times t-shirt.