Just how often does the CTA prez use public transit?

Yesterday I wrote that I am fine with CTA President Richard Rodriguez choosing to spend time with his family over using the CTA for his daily commute.

Rodriguez has five children under the age of 12. He works long hours. He has decided that he can spend some quality time with his oldest children in the morning while driving them to school. And Rodriguez said he still regularly takes the CTA.

Now, I do think that the CTA president -- and others in top management -- should be using the CTA regularly. So I asked the CTA how often he does. Here's what I learned:

Since he became president in March, Rodriguez has averaged more than 45 rides per month, said a CTA spokesperson, who examined his CTA pass usage. Last month, he logged 58 rides.

The 45 rides a month is more than the average commuter who works 20 days in a month.

There are plenty of things to fix on the CTA, things for us to complain about and work to improve. Bus bunching. Deplorable conditions at some rail stations. The frequent lack of communications to riders about the delays.

But bitching and editorializing that the CTA president is not taking the CTA to work -- so he can spend a little more time with his family -- is just petty and not very constructive. Especially given the fact that he already uses the CTA as much as the average commuter.

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  • So he drives to work and also takes the CTA more than an average commuter? Now we know why he doesn't have time to spend with his kids, he spends his day riding around on busses and trains! Seriously though, logisitically something doesn't add up. How is that possible?

  • In reply to ozzzie19:

    "Seriously though, logisitically something doesn't add up. How is that possible?"

    Just a guess, but perhaps he also uses it on the weekends. Unless he's also using the card to give rides to his family.

    That being said, 58 rides in a month is quite a bit. I don't see what the big stink about this all is, and I agree with Kevin. Plus, it's not as if he doesn't ride transit.

  • In reply to ozzzie19:

    Well, consider someone who works 20 days a month, and uses a bus+train to commute. Then they use up two rides per commute, four rides per day, so 80 rides in a month. So I think it is a stretch to say he's using it more then the average commuter, but I'll agree the whole issue is petty.

    Hell, I could see how 58 weekend rides could be done easily if he is paying for his family (CCP does let you pay for 7 others) and they travel around the city (I certainly have used my UPass more then 6 times in a day at times).

  • In reply to ozzzie19:

    I don't care how many times he rides off-peak. As I blogged this week on Chicagopshere and in various places, until he rides in rush hour, he won't have the same experience as the great majority of his own agency's customers.

    And considering that he never took the CTA before being named its president (which is pretty pathetic in the first place), that means if he's not commuting regularly on the CTA in rush hour now...he probably never has. That makes for a pretty uninformed transit agency head in my book.

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    Mike, now you're just making stuff up. Where did you get the idea that Rodriguez never rode the CTA before being named president?

    Have you ever asked him? Well I did.

    Rodriguez told me in an interview last month that he grew up in Chicago and has ridden the CTA all his life, a time frame which would include the period before he was named president.

    He shared fond memories of taking the CTA with his dad while he was growing up, and talked about taking his own kids on CTA excursions before and after he got his new job.

    When I asked his spokesperson yesterday about his current ridership habits, here's what she said:

    "(Rodriguez) regularly visits CTA facilities throughout the city and on those visits also takes the opportunity to try new routes. On the weekends, he takes his kids with him and rides the system to either check out new routes, visit stations or go to CTA facilities."

    I agree that it would be great for him to experience rush hour commutes, but my position is that he's decided it's best for him and his family to drive the kids to school, and I'm not going to question what he thinks is best for his family.

    And just because I don't agree with you on this one issue certainly doesn't make me a CTA apologist. Regular readers know I've taken the CTA to task for years on the lack of good information getting to riders in emergencies. I've been at the forefront in pushing the issue of women being harassed on the CTA, I've pushed the CTA to trim fat instead of cutting service, and I've reported on the increase in crime on the CTA, among other issues.

    One thing I do agree with you on is there's plenty of room for more CTA watchdogs in this city and I would welcome them to the club.

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    The Tattler has never claimed to be an advocacy blog. That role happened organically during the Doomsday Days of '07. Mr. Tattler just wanted to talk about the weird shit he saw on his commutes and then it turned into something more. Perhaps Mr. Doyle is confusing R-Rod with R-Hube. A compelling/disturbing part of Mr. Rodriguez's bio is his rise from humble roots through local universities to which he transported himself via CTA and eventually being catapulted into the upper echelons of city government by UNO. Huberman's the one who never rode CTA prior to being anointed by King Ritchie.

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    Again, he wants to drive to work for personal reasons; ok, but I still don't know why he gets a CTA car and free parking for that? That's the question here. Most government types who get their own wheels will speak to the need to get somewhere quick in case of an emergency or a safety thing. It is a 24/7 operation effecting hundreds of thousand citizens on a daily basis, after all. So the President of the CTA typically gets a car for that. But he didn't say that. He said he drives for non-CTA reasons, meaning he needs to give up the car and free parking. period. drive your own car and pay for your own parking.

    Mike Doyle needs to stop plugging his blog everytime he posts something anywhere. It's getting annoying and somewhat embarassing.

    Although, I do sometimes slightly agree with him that it'd be nice if there was some way to expand the policy side of things, especially since transit in northeastern Illinois is on a cliff and about to fall off. Anyone up for reviving the Sick Transit blog?

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    Whew. Lot's here to comment on.

    @Jman. Would you prefer that he talk about emergencies, etc. etc. Do you think he would *not* use the car if there were an emergency he needed to get to? Sheesh. Terrible example of form over substance.

    @Mike Doyle. This is not New York. The culture is different, the history is different, and the advocacy is different. It is not as if we have not had plenty of New Yorkers talking about straphangers' unions, etc. etc. That's super. It just isn't here. In addition, riding off-peak is riding too. I ride both during rush hour, and off-peak. Frankly, off-peak makes service issues more obvious. Every transit authority in the world is packed and uncomfortable during rush hour. Off-peak you realize what the agency does poorly *all* the time. Finally, the self-aggrandizing posts and self-references make you seem more like a reality star than a citizen journalist.

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    Shame on Mike Doyle for being such a conceited, antaganostic jerk. Mike, we don't need your running on here posting links to your useless rants. We don't need you bashing Kevin just because he happens to disagree with your (wrong) opinion. Kevin never claimed to be a "watchdog." Take your "holier than thou" opinion back to your worthless little blog. Or better yet, back to New York. You will never be nothing more than a hack blogger who too closely resembles Jay Mariotti for the majority of Chicagoans.

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    Interesting how Mike didn't return to defend his comments about Rodriguez never riding before he started at the CTA. If New York is so great, why don't you go back there?

  • In reply to ozzzie19:

    For a better background on my position, in NYC where I worked for four years on the central staff of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee--the official, legislatively mandated riders advocacy organization for all 7 million downstate NY transit riders-- we weren't event allowed to take taxis, much less drive for any official reason.

    We took agency staff and board members to task for driving instead of taking transit for official business all the time. It's not petty at all. That's how you advocate for public transit in your city. You actually take it. Period. No excuses. No get-out-of-transit-free cards. You put your principles in action and live by them.

    Or you suck it up and deal with it the next time your transit agency suffers a funding crisis and your state legislators ask why they should bail you out because your agency staff doesn't even use the system.

    So I'm not backing down. In fact, it's getting kind of old that CTA Tattler constantly takes a position as a CTA apologist and almost never, ever questions the agency on anything. Looks like there's room in this town for a CTA watchdog website that actually intends to function like a watchdog...

  • In reply to MikeDoyle:

    "we weren't event allowed to take taxis, much less drive for any official reason."

    Sorry, but that's stupid. I don't have a car, but I certainly take taxis, use ZipCar, ride a bike, and ride in other people's cars at times. Refusal to do so is just being stubborn or making your life more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes, CTA simply isn't the best option for a specific set of circumstances.

    Also, CTA Tattler never pretended to be a "watchdog" site. That's not the reason it exists as has been explained in the past.

    "And considering that he never took the CTA before being named its president (which is pretty pathetic in the first place), that means if he's not commuting regularly on the CTA in rush hour now...he probably never has. That makes for a pretty uninformed transit agency head in my book."

    Sorry, you're wrong about this. He stated in a RedEye interview on 6/3/09 the following:

    "I've used public transportation a majority of my life," Rodriguez said. "I still use it frequently. I use it on the weekends when I'm able to con my kids into going on field trips with me, so if you see me on the weekends riding the system, I'm typically with one if not a number of my children."

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