CTA chief Richard Rodriguez today probably will participate in his final CTA board meeting as president.
Monday, Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in as Chicago's new mayor, and the
mayor-elect already has selected his entire "cabinet," including Forrest
Claypool as the CTA president. Claypool still needs to be approved by
the CTA board
and city council, but those are mere formalities.
we bid adieu formally today to Rodriguez by rating his "star turn" at
the CTA. On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being celestial, here's how
Rich ranks on those key mission values printed on every Chicago Card and
Chicago Card Plus: Safe - Clean - On-Time - Courteous - Efficient.
Safe: 3 stars
The bad news: Thefts and robberies were up dramatically in 2010 vs. 2009. Plus, a woman was
murdered at the Fullerton station earlier this year, pushed to her death
by a fleeing iPhone thief.
The good news: Rodriguez used
Homeland Security funds to equip every train station with at least one
camera. Thus, the middling score.
Clean: 2 stars
I was thisclose to giving Rodriguez just one star on this score. His predecessor Ron Huberman had five key performance indicators to gauge
how the agency was scoring on cleanliness, including days between rail
and bus cleans. Now, all five have been replaced by Rodriguez by just two indicators - exterior and interior rail and bus "clean inspection score."
put aside the competing KPIs. The bottom line is that these days rail
cars and buses are just plain dirtier. And I won't even mention the
persistent stench of urine at many stations. That's a favorite tweet for
CTA complainers. Much improvement is needed here.
On-time: 3 stars
might have done himself a favor on this one when a giant budget hole
forced him to cut bus and rail service in 2010. Fewer vehicles mean
fewer opportunities for vehicles to go off schedule.
But I do
think by using Bus and Train Tracker technology, there have been some
3+improvements to bus bunching and train headways. Plus, folks with
smartphones or other Internet access can be "on time" to their stops
using the tracker technology.
Of course, that doesn't help those
who don't enjoy that technology access. But completing rolling out Train
Tracker and using the technologies push a 2.5 stars score to a 3.
Courteous: 2 stars
are plenty of good, helpful and courteous CTA employees, including rail
motorman and customer assistants, and bus operators. I think they just
need more training on when we need them most: during bus and rail
We recently covered the problems during the April 19
non-derailment of a Brown Line north train north of Belmont.
Unfortunately, the customer communication problems are systemic and
long-standing. And they go to the heart of courtesy, in my estimation.
They must be fixed.
Efficient: 4 stars
Former CTA President Ron Huberman had brought in many new top
management staffers, leading to job bloat and inefficiencies. For the
most part, Rodriguez has weeded them out - partly because his own
personnel budget has shrunk due to lower tax revenues.
also has found other efficiencies and made budget cuts. He has required
that all non-union personnel take furlough days off. And the CTA still
seems to run just fine.
Overall: 2.8 stars
Certainly there is plenty of room for Claypool to make
some improvements. But honestly, I think Rodriguez did about the best he
could do given the economic conditions he ruled under. I wish him luck in future endeavors, and thank him for his service.