Claypool: Create operating efficiencies; "focus on new ways of doing things"

CTA President Forrest Claypool wants his top managers and their departments to work together to create more operating efficiencies. He’s also demanding new ideas “so we’re not doing things based on old ways.”

CTA President Forrest Claypool

These were two common themes from Claypool in an exclusive interview with CTA Tattler earlier this month. This is the first in a series of posts recapping Claypool’s thoughts on the future for the CTA.

He was very adamant on using best practices to improve the customer experience as well as CTA efficiencies, looking to break down agency silos in the process.

“We need to take best practice where we can find them, whether in the private sector or public sector,” Claypool said. “I want my top notch managers to apply those best practices throughout the system –we need to be the best we can be and apply that across the agency. There are a lot of individual people working in silos here – they all need to be brought  together to create an overall strategy.”

As an example, he noted there are CTA workers who do station cleanings, repairs, or camera installation – “but they might do those jobs three months apart. We need to integrate efforts across silos. We need to marshal our forces together to have big impact on system. Integrating all these efforts is part of my cohesive, comprehensive strategy on efforts.”

Improving “customer experience is key”

I asked Claypool about the five key attributes listed on my Chicago Card Plus – safety, cleanliness, on-time performance, courtesy, and efficiency.

“I’m very focused on the customer experience. Some thing are harder to control, like coming up with $5 billion for the Red Line. But some things I can control, such as security. Security is first and foremost. We’re beefing up train security. Cameras are a critical part of that. We must have enough at each station.

“On cleanliness, we will combine forces and strategies across disciplines and have SWAT teams hit stations and do things all at once.

“Customer experience is key. We need to put our resources, efforts and managerial focus to employ technology to make customer experience more convenient. For instance, riders want to know when the train and bus will arrive without guessing.

Claypool said he wants managers “to look at operating efficiencies with a blank sheet of paper — completely re-examine how we do things. That will be a real focus for next two years as we execute changes.

“We must have best practices applied to most efficient part of management, so we’re not doing things based on old ways. We’re at the point where we need to focus on new ways of doing things.”

Part two: Rail slow zones, passenger communication


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  • As expected, nothing here but corporate speak. No specifics. Nothing different from what Huberman said 4 years ago, except that apparently Claypool doesn't have a PowerPoint staff to say it.

    "Best practices" 3 times. "Silos" 3 times. This isn't a hog farm. Or maybe it is.

    Cameras at least is something tangible, but unless he has some plan to get them into the 1180 old rail cars, or even the maybe 600 that will remain when 5706 arrives???

    But, in the meantime, if he is so concerned about efficiency, did he say anything tangible about service coordination and the 4 boards not acting like children, as Hilkevitch put it? Mike and I are waiting, but I'm betting no. Especially as I put in the the "last chance to ask" post.

    Meanwhile, if I need my daily does of corporate speak, there is Dilbert. At least Wally and Asok are being honest today. Claypool isn't.

  • In reply to jack:

    dose instead of does, but what's the difference?

  • Does Claypool really have a picture of Ayn Rand hanging in his office?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Since the post is supposedly about efficiency, maybe you can explain to us how a picture of Ayn Rand would contribute to that? Or anything relevant?

    Now if you asked him if he had a web cam monitor on the cleaning area at the 74th St. garage, that might mean something.


    I will be making a statement at Sen. Sandoval's meeting Friday; and I am trying to get him to attend the Red Line Open House on Tuesday to observe the waste portrayed in CTA's Red Line presentation.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    With regard to Sandoval, be aware that this is probably showboating.

    The article did not mention that Sandoval was teed off that, after the Pagano mess, the Metra Board had the temerity to do an independent search for a transit expert, rather than appoint him the Executive Director.

    Of course, the CTA board would have never done that.

  • Cheryl: I honestly didn't look what was hanging on the walls of Claypool's office.

  • Thanks Kev. I heard that from someone who should know, but I couldn't tell if he was making a joke or not.

  • In actual news today, I heard on the radio something about Durbin announcing a federal grant to repair the "dilapidated Loyola CTA Station." Anyway, the Press Release is here

    Aside from whether it really is dilapidated, compared to a lot of others, while this mentions the Red-Purple extension and modernization, it doesn't clarify whether it constrains it; i.e. if this grant is to convert Loyola to a 2 platform express/local station as some plans indicate, or would preclude that. Much of this seems to be pedestrian improvements outside the station, according to the Press Release.

  • In reply to jack:

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I get it, to the extent that the image is supposedly of the proposed plaza in front of the station.

    If anything can be inferred:
    1. Two tracks in front of the platform seems to negate building express platforms.

    2. The type of bus pictured in the front has been out of service for about 3 years.

    3. Doesn't seem like any change to the platform canopy and such.

  • In reply to jack:

    I should also add:

    4. With the release indicating fixing the concrete, and a bridge depicted over Sheridan, the line certainly isn't entering a Broadway subway there, and is running east of where Sheridan turns and straight ahead becomes Broadway.

  • In reply to jack:

    An article in the "Rogers Park Business Alliance Journal", Summer 2011, Page 6 stated
    "Additionally, Loyola University Chicago is working with the CTA to move the entrance to the station further north and west along the embankment. The goal is to create a safer and more inviting pedestrian entrance to the station and to the community. Loyola is negotiating with its long-term tenants, McDonald's and Harris Bank, in order to demolish the building and develop an open plaza."

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