CTA deals well with cold and snow, unlike Boston

When Chicago was hit with almost 20 inches of snow on Super Bowl Sunday, the CTA rail system kept moving, even the six rail lines that don’t run overnight. The CTA ran cars on those lines to clear now in preparation for the Monday morning commute on Feb. 2.

Meanwhile, Boston has been hit with four substantial snowfalls since Jan. 23, and Boston’s venerable T train line has shut down three times in that time span due to disabled trains and the wintry conditions.

So what’s the difference?

The CTA has invested in new rail cars, while the Boston’s MBTA knew its cars needed new motors, but never made that investment.

Now, certainly things weren’t perfect on the CTA the day after our big snowstorm, but at least the system was running – unlike the three shut downs in the Boston system.

Read about how the CTA prepares for winter weather. Photos below from the CTA.

CTA de-icing equipment

CTA snow plow blades

CTA snow remover infographic

CTA winter sleetscrapers


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  • Maybe CTA can run rail OK, in this weather, but try getting on a bus the last couple of weeks.
    None of the bus stops outside of downtown are cleared, so you have to climb over piles of ice to board in the street & 75% of the drivers don't even bother to lower the bus unless you ask. I had one driver get mad at me for asking.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Hey Scooter, are you saying it's the responsibility of the CTA to shovel out every bus stop? That's nuts! The City says it's the responsibility of the property owner to shovel the sidewalk in front of his/her property. That's who should be shoveling.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    1. The city says nothing about bus stop shoveling.
    2. There are numerous places where the city doesn't clear it's own sidewalks.
    3. The city plows pile the snow up at the crosswalks & bus stops, no individual, even with a snow blower can move that amount of mixed ice & snow.

  • Boston's also had about 70 inches of snow this winter, as compared to about 40 in Chicago, and there was only one 19 inch one here.

    As Scooter sends us in the direction of buses, one can say that CTA learned from the 2011 storm to get the buses off LSD to prevent them from being stranded for a couple of days.

    But before one gets too smug, CTA would have to assure that a 1979 type Chicago meltdown would not occur today if we got Boston's snow. Sleet scrapers are not going to prevent that.

  • In reply to jack:

    Weather Girl cited a tweet that Boston has had 95 inches this season, 58 inches in Feb. compared to a normal of 5.8. CTA saying it would have been prepared for that?

  • In reply to jack:

    I believe the CTA probably would be prepared for more snow, given their newer equipment.

  • This is Off Topic -- But it is going to be quite interesting to see how Public Transportation works for this President Obama's Pullman National Park event on Thursday, there will be thousands attending. Red Line to 95th, and then what -- various buses? The MED is semi-useless because of it's scheduling format, and fare disconnect from CTA.

    So the new Pullman National Park will gets it's first big test for visitor and tourist access on Thursday.

  • Somehow people get to Rev. Meeks's church. Do you think it has anything to do with being proximate to the 111th and 115th exits to I-94?

  • The IC(Illinois Central) Metra electric line from downtown and south burbs has Pullman stops at both 111ith and 115th streets on Cottage Dr

    The 111th stop is across the street from Old Pullman Works and Florence Hotel.

    BTW, there's also an IC shuttle that runs to Blue Island.

  • In reply to JimV:

    You are correct JimV -- are you aware of what the CTA Gray Line Project would do? That Metra stop across the street from the Florence Hotel would become a CTA "L" stop to serve the New National Park: http://bit.ly/GrayLineInfo http://www.civicartworks.com/projects/museum-campus-transportation-study?order=popular&phase=1

  • That's not thousands from all over the region -- and some people do have to use Public Transit with no alternative (no car!)

  • Do you know how big the House of Hope is? Their site says 10,000 seats. No way 10,000 show up for this event.

    They keep separate, but linked sites for HoH and Salem Baptist Church, but they are one and the same.

    But I guess those that don't have cars have to transfer to the 111 bus.

  • On the SBC site, it says they have 15,000 members and meet at the House of Hope.

  • I just contacted The White House -- of course I don't know if the message will get through, but there's no harm in trying!

  • My poor Nephew its his freshman year ant NorthEastern University and even though he's a Chicagoan this has TRULY tested his mettle but knowing him he'll be alright.

  • Kevin, to nitpick on shoveling - shoveling the sidewalk and its street access is a big difference from also chopping through the salt-encrusted icebergs heaped along the curb by the plows, and doing that at semi-random locations designated for the bus front and back doors. And some of which are on grass parkway and not sidewalk.

    I do have to say that in my limited experience (#152 and 91) I've been pleasantly surprised at both how clear the stops I use have been and how considerate the drivers have been at stopping either in a clear space or at the cross-street or driveway. Front door only, though. About the lowering the bus, though, about the same reluctance as Scooter found.

  • In reply to CarolynA2:

    Carolyn, you are right about the big piles that may be left near the gutter by sidewalk plows. Pretty awful and hard to get around. But I still think the property owners should clear a spot to board buses. Don't agree that CTA should do it.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I think bus stops sporting shelters and ads by JC Decaux should be cleared by whatever maintenance contract keeps up the shelters, since value to the ads at least in part requires riders using the shelters or pedestrians passing by.

    As to other stops, I have mixed feelings. They are well within the public easement, in front of homes or businesses and were plopped there by a government agency to benefit a subset of the public and profit the agency. Yes, using buses, I appreciate cleared stops. But should the property owners really be stuck with/responsible for clearing so the agency can conduct its business?

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Those big piles are left by the street plows, as few plow sidewalks, they blow most of it away.
    But many are scared of blowing it into the street, as the city says that's illegal, even when the city's plows have piled it on the walk & there's no parkway on most business streets.
    It is the city's job to clear the bus stops!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    On Carolyn's point, there was some debate whether JC Decaux had that responsibility as part of its contract.

    However, Kevin, CTA does have the legal responsibility to make sure that it stops in a safe location. Maybe it should ask its sole overlord to have Streets and San take care of it (since CTA, unlike CSL, is not responsible for plowing the streets).

  • In reply to CarolynA2:

    I totally agree with you, Carolyn. JCD should be clearing areas around those god-awful bus shelters. They certainly come around plenty of times to scrub them down when they get dirty.

    I know there's a law on the books about property owners clearing their sidewalks, but this never gets enforced. Maybe call 311 and report them?

  • In reply to mulder42:

    I guess 311 would be the recourse. Evanston was fining people, but I don't know if Chicago does anything.

  • I guess their T train line is not Boston strong.

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