CTA's new messaging on rail delays not quite ready for prime time

On Sunday I wrote that CTA makes new effort to give riders clear, consistent info about rail delays.

It turns out I jumped the gun a bit on that. I heard from a CTA media spokesman today is that the bulletin I posted (since taken down) was incomplete and in some places inaccurate – though some information was correct.

“The CTA *is* working on a program to improve customer communications globally, including rail announcements,” the spokesperson noted in an email. “President Forrest Claypool has been the driving force behind these efforts (based on feedback he’s heard from customers as well as his own experiences as a rider). We are planning changes along the lines outlined in the bulletin but they are not all finalized yet—all materials have not been completed and all operators have not been trained.”

So, my apologies for not giving you all the correct information. However, it’s still great news that this improved communications program is in the works. We riders don’t care about exactly what rail operators say during delays and emergencies, we just want to get the correct, concise and consistent information.

I hope I can soon report that complete details of that program.


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  • You know, I don't really give a flip if they say the delay is caused by a switching failure or a circuit failure. Maybe that's important to a rail buff, but it doesn't affect the average transit rider one bit.

    What I want to know is how long we are going to be waiting here and how long until I get to my destination. Should I leave the station or get off at the next station and try to catch a cab or a bus or just walk?
    Will the trains speed up after a few stops or travel 2 mph to the end of the line? Do I need to call ahead to cancel an appointment or rebook a reservation? Do I need to make new plans for the evening?

    I realize that if an emergency is developing, they can't predict when it will be resolved. Rather than tell me "the trains are not moving because of a switching failure" I would much prefer they tell me "all the trains are stopped between X and Y. We don't know when the problem will be fixed. It will probably be at least half an hour." THAT would be helpful.

  • In reply to Olaf1:

    Olaf, you make a very good point. Here's hoping those kinds of details will be worked into the messages.

  • Olaf is absolutely right. I don't care why there is a delay, I just want to know they're aware of the problem, they're working on it, and most importantly an estimate of how long fixing it is going to take. If they don't have an estimate we need to know that also.

  • Wow, seriously? It seemed much better than the apparent lack of any plan or method that we'd seen to date. I hope when they do release it it's with suitable fanfare.

    I caught the part that it's because Mr. Claypool has noticed that communication is an issue. I also appreciated the acknowledgment (I recall) in the leaky memo that customers notice and are concerned when it appears that the CTA is not telling the truth or doesn't have its story straight. That is huge.

    Kevin, we may have you to thank for the platform from which these concerns apparently came to someone's notice.

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