RTA uses humorous ads to urge Chicagoans to "Ride On"

On the same day last week that the RTA announced the dire news that the Chicago area’s three transit agencies need more than $36 billion over the next 10 years in capital improvements, the RTA launched a multi-year marketing campaign to improve public awareness and perception of public transportation, and to attract new transit riders.

The “Ride On” campaign highlights the benefits of using public transit, and features humorous ads about the convenience of public transportation to encourage first-time and non-regular riders to “Ride On.”

The ads in the campaign will be seen on cable television, online and on digital billboards throughout the region over a two-and-a-half-year period.

I think they are pretty effective, actually. Here’s another one:


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  • Advertising the grossly inaccurate Trip Planner is the way not to obtain sustained ridership.* Instead, the RTA should stop spending money on it, and direct potential riders to Google Transit. All 3 service boards are on it, and it is accurate.

    Besides that, only Pace appears to have excess capacity, plus wifi for the woman in the top one.

    *I also know someone who still calls the 836-7200 number, and the instructions she says she gets from the RTA are obviously wrong, too. Those answering those phones must be using the same software as Trip Planner.

  • In reply to jack:

    Trip Planner was "improved" recently, and now you have to type in your information twice because it all resets after you hit the button. Phooey.

  • In reply to jack:

    You don't need WiFi to read a book on a Kindle or iPad like the woman in the top one, as you suggested.

  • In reply to chris:

    You don't "need" WiFi, but that is what is being promoted, and apparently what is being mandated by state law on the service boards (witness the stink over Metra saying in response to legislation it wasn't feasible).

  • In reply to jack:

    What? Are you saying state law prohibits me from reading my Kindle when I'm not connected to Wi-Fi? Like to see them try to enforce that. Makes no sense.

    If that's not what you mean, what do you mean? I didn't watch the videos. I come here to read words.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    No. What the state law says is that the service boards have to provide WiFi. For instance, Public Act 097-0085 provides that the RTA shall study wireless Internet connectivity, and that the Commuter Rail Division provide it if it can get it for free.

    Haven't you see the Pace BOS commercial promoting wireless internet?

    Somehow, you think "promote" is equivalent to "prohibit.[the opposite]." Maybe you can explain your use of the English language.

  • In reply to jack:

    No, I haven't seen the "Pace BOS commercial," whatever that is. I said I come here to read words not watch videos. I was just going by what your other comment said. I looked again at the sentence and "what is being mandated by state law" remains ambiguous as it could have referred to either the Wi-Fi or the promotion.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    1. I guess you don't watch television either. Maybe you have sufficient entertainment from whatever source you download from some nonwireless source.
    2. No ambiguity there unless you are picking nits, as your interpretation defies common sense. I assume that you looked up the Public Acts and didn't take my word for it.

  • In reply to jack:

    You are not a very good guesser, and your assumptions are unrealistic. I watch TV, but I have technology that--in addition to letting me record my favorite content from a standard cable lineup--allows me to skip commercials that don't interest me. And not all commercials appear everywhere.

    I didn't look up Public Acts because I don't accept homework assignments, stated or implied, from someone who is not my teacher or supervisor. I know how to write sentences so they make sense, and review them before hitting send to make sure they are clear. If you want to call that picking nits, so be it.

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm not sure I saw anything about WiFi in that video ad.

  • In reply to chris:

    Maybe you should have read my reply to Archijake before posing this.

  • I don't see where wifi is being promoted in that banner ad.

  • In reply to ArchiJake:

    I don't see where anything useful is being promoted in the ad.

    And I didn't say promoted in the ad.

  • Um, OK. I don't get it. Are there actually living, breathing human beings among us city dwellers that don't know about public transportation? If so, did they just crawl out from under a rock?

    'Waste of money.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Since it is the RTA it is not just for city dwellers.

    However, since Pace does a better job of promoting itself, and all this is really promoting is the Trip Planner, it is still a waste of money, like anything associated with the RTA.

  • In reply to jack:

    I've used Metra/Pace for one reverse commute to Schaumburg, and it was a complete disaster. Planning does no good when the Pace bus drivers are nitwits.

    Our outbound train arrived on-time in Arlington Heights. As we exited the train, we could see the Pace bus across from the station. As the train pulled away, so did the bus. Apparently it's asking too much for the bus to wait to the riders. Since our group had a meeting to catch, we couldn't wait for the next bus, and had to shell out money for a cab.

    After the meeting, we attempted to catch a return bus from the stop at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg Campus. As we waited at the stop near the main building, the Pace bus pulled into the parking lot, and then immediately exited the lot without driving to the bus stop at the front of the building, thus leaving us stranded.

    We wound up catching the next bus 30 minutes later, and missed our inbound train. As a result, we had an extra hour wait at the station for the next inbound train.

    The full round trip travel time took nearly 4 hours, and cost us the Metra/Pace fares, as well as the cab ride. Even on the worst day, we could have driven in half the time at 1/3 the cost.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The only thing I am saying is that if you use the RTA Trip Planner, it probably would have directed you through University Park, or had a portion where you would have had to fly between Jefferson Park and Rolling Meadows.

    In fact, if you were coming from Chicago, you used the wrong route. Pace service has been beefed up between Rosemont and Schaumburg (routes 600, 606, and 895). It pays to know the system rather than trust untimed transfers. I assume you were trying to catch 696, which is not a feeder route (and is barely there to serve Harper College). Next time, use a main line route.

  • In reply to jack:

    You're right about that, Jack. I've gotten some pretty bizarre, extremely roundabout, route suggestions from the Trip Planner. Sometimes it even ignores the best possibility.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I also assume you are citing this trip as a city person taking Carol Brown's route of saying that the suburbs should support the CTA, while not bothering about serving suburban taxpayers.

  • Don't you just love it when they spend millions of dollars for something that we don't need? Where are they getting this money from--aren't they broke? It boggles the mind...

    I ride public transportation because I don't have a car. I don't have a car because that's MY choice. I don't need them to tell me about the wonderful world of the CTA/Pace/RTA!

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    I'm so glad the RTA is trying humor. I ride red and brown lines. Can't say I was amused the last two weeks being sequestered by CTA due to slow-zones, re-routes, constant delays and dirty trains, which roughly doubled my commute time each way. I heard a report on WBEZ regarding dwindling ridership, and blaming it on low gas prices. How about holding RTA/CTA management to task? In addition to delays & the fact that the red line on the North Side is always overcrowded, riding the trains during rush is uncomfortable when doors are kept open when a train is delayed at a station or doors that threaten to close but never do until they have been opened and closed 5 more times, or stuttering stop-and-go-riding between stations. Driving is just as miserable, but at least you'll stay warm. Today I'll bike, which keeps me warmer and gets me to work faster.

  • In reply to Sebastian Huydts:

    I assume that your first sentence is sarcastic.

  • In reply to Sebastian Huydts:

    I hear you. These past 2 weeks have been rather taxing. I've had to walk to the train station the past 2 days because I missed the (bunched) buses each day. Yesterday it was four #66 buses in a span of 1 block, and today it was 3 buses together, with a 10 minute wait for the next bus.

    However, I have no problem staying warm on the train, as they have the heat cranked to a balmy 90 degrees, which feels like 105 degrees when you have a train car packed like a sardine can.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Things have improved since the days of the 6000s. I pretty much froze my feet with the doors opening into the cars every 3 blocks on the Howard segment. Still can feel it.

    I use the fitness center sauna, but this might be an alternative, and I bet each has an equal amount of pantsless users.

  • Since Chris got me back here:

    And on the promoting WiFi point, there is an article today in the Tribune about how CTA is going to get free 4G (yes I know that's different than WiFi, but as far as someone reading something on their device, functionally not) and a Daily Herald article that Metra riders are complaining that for their fare increase, they aren't getting promised WiFi and the trains are overcrowded. That was the point of my first post, 3 days, 10 hours ago (and still increasing) about the futility of the RTA promotion.

  • In reply to jack:

    The 4G cell coverage in the tunnels will be a welcome addition. I'm not sure if it's better that the wireless companies are building rather than the CTA or not. The article did seem to indicate that it would work between stations so that will be an improvement over what we have now.

    I read a similar article about how Metra riders will start paying more, but won't see much immediate improvement so there was bound to be these issues. But, it's kind of silly for them to expect the benefits to be apparent to them within a month of the increase. I don't feel bad for Metra riders.

  • Sigh. No #36 buses for nearly an hour Tuesday evening. But lots and lots of 151, 155. Lies told in the tracker. There will be no explanation, no apology. It barely snowed an inch, not 2 feet. Is Wi-Fi all we are supposed to care about now? Getting where we're trying to get to without being unbelievably late--that doesn't matter any more?

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