Chicago Sun-Times

February 2010 Archives

On driving while texting

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Just for fun, while waiting on a Blue Line platform today, I counted texters on the Kennedy. Out of 47 cars passing by, I counted five people texting -- actually holding up their devices and typing stuff in while their cars were in motion. One was actually holding the device in one hand, typing with the other hand and steering with her knees. Traffic wasn't that slow, either -- texters were going at least 30 mph while doing this juggling stunt.

On New Year's Day, Illinois became the 19th state to ban texting while driving. It's also now illegal to e-mail while driving or talk on a hand-held cell phone driving in a highway
construction zone or a school zone or to surf the Internet by cell
phone while driving.

Maybe these folks didn't get the memo. Or maybe they realize their odds of getting caught are slim -- and if you don't get caught, it's not wrong, right?

They say God looks after fools and children. He doesn't, actually. Fools crash their cars, sometimes into children. So put the Blackberry down, and drive.

Body scanners on the way

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The TSA confirmed Tuesday that O'Hare will get its first full body scanner next week. See the story here.

A January poll by of 2,249 travelers found that most were pretty accepting of the scanners -- 78% thought it would enhance security, and 22% thought it would be an invasion of privacy.

The Ride is still getting over having to take her shoes off, especially when there's hole in a stocking.

Not Paying on the CTA

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I get a lot of phone calls from CTA bus drivers, and the most common complaint I get is that people won't pay when they get on the bus. They're not just talking about free-riding seniors, but people who claim to be active military personnel who won't show their IDs, and students who don't want to show, or don't have, their student IDs. The drivers complain that if they make a fuss about demanding fares, the rider, and often other riders, complain and it gets the driver into trouble. Apparently, the phenomenon of people not paying doesn't just happen at bus stops, as reported here.

I asked CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney about CTA policy for bus drivers who don't get fares. "They're supposed to ask the person to pay nicely, and if they refuse they're supposed to notify the control center but continue in service, and the control center can make a determination with the supervisor what the next steps will be," Gaffney said.

I also asked Gaffney about the problem reported on the Brown Line. She said the CTA is looking at what it's options are to keep people from entering through the exit doors, without paying their fares.

Most bus drivers I talked to say they've given up complaining about people who don't show proper IDs for free or student fares, because it's not worth the hassle. But one long-time driver gave me a contrary view -- he said that he's kicked hundreds of kids off his buses for not paying. He won't be pushed around.

So what do you think, CTA riders? Have you seen people skip the fare, either on the bus or on the train? Do you say something? Does the driver ever say anything? And by the way, has anyone ever told these kids that just because you CAN get away with not paying for something, that doesn't mean you should?

Ride Trivia Answer

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This week's question asked about a street that was once the site of a Chicago-style Boston Tea Party. Local farmers didn't like the tolls being collected on this plank road, so they dressed as Indians, chopped down the toll gates and burned them. What's the name of this former toll road. Please include your full name and a way to reach you with your answer, so if you win I can get you your prize.

We got a lot of good guesses of diagonal streets -- Ogden, Archer, Milwaukee, Lincoln. But the answer is Elston Avenue. Paul Lockwood, of Woodstock, was the first with the right answer -- which is a twofer for Paul -- he got the answer last month, too.

Bike for Trees

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Registration is open for America's largest fundraiser for tree research, the 2010 STIHL Tour des Trees, which this year starts in Chicago.
The weeklong cycling event starts in Millennium Park July 18, travels west to Iowa and loops back to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. The registration fee is $100 until June 1 and $125 from June 2 until July 5.
To participate in the tour, riders must raise a minimum of $3,500, which will be applied toward tree research grants and scholarships.
For those who can't do the whole week, this year the Tour offers a one-day "Ride for Research" on Saturday, July 24, with visits to Fermilab and the Morton Arboretum. The registration fee is $75 and includes lunch, entrance to the Arboretum, and a donation to the Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund.
Last year's Tour, which started from New York City, raised nearly half a million dollars. To register, go to
STIHL makes saws and is a top supplier to the tree care industry, according to Mary DiCarlo, fund development specialist.

Service cuts to the CTA are coming Feb. 7 -- 18 percent to bus service and 9 percent to rail service. Nine express routes will be cut, and 41 bus routes will have shorter hours. Service will be affected on all 7 rail routes and 119 bus routes, with less frequent runs. CTA officials today said to expect fuller buses and trains and longer waits.

Rail customers can expect an additional one or two minutes for a train during rush hour, generally two to five minutes longer during off-peak periods. Bus riders can expect an additional two to five minutes between buses during weekday rush periods, and two to eight minutes during off-peak hours. During very late evening hours, there may be an additional 10-15 minutes between buses.

Do you have any questions on how this will affect you? I'll try to answer them.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2010 is the previous archive.

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