CTA Olympics ads on buses really annoy us

It’s a drowsy Monday morning on your bus commute to work. It’s no problem to tune out the canned announcements about the next bus stop and Bus Tracker. But you are rudely jarred back to full consciousness by the peppy announcements form the Chicago 2016 Olympics Committee.

Since they began last week on buses only, I’ve gotten many emails from riders complaining about them. According to a CTA spokesperson., these announcements feature six Olympians — gymnasts Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, sprinter Connie Moore, swimmers Donna de Varona and Gary Hall, Jr., and paralympic wheelchair tennis and sitting volleyball team member Paul Moran — extolling the virtues of the Olympics.

The problem is that with the usual bus ads, you could ignore them if you want. With these, not so much. It’s hard to ignore such in-your-face advertising — or in-your-ear ads. 

Worse yet, the general consensus is that Chicago is really split on whether we want the Olympics. And we riders don’t really have any control over which city actually wins the Games on Oct. 2, so why subject us to these “commercials”?


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  • Since the CTA is in financial trouble, is it being paid by the 2016 committee for the advertisements?

    Is CTA running them because it thinks it will get capital money if the games go here, despite indications that it won't?

    There were numerous complaints about the sound beign on on TransitTV on Pace until the former went bankrupt, so is CTA trying to institutionalize such auditory advertising on its buses?

    Or is this just another example of the 35% approval Mayor imposing his will on the rest of us?

  • Great piece, Kevin. De Varona's is particularly obnoxious as she prattles about the wonderful place Washington Park will be to swim in, even as we all know that Washington Park as we know it will pretty much be demolished if the Olympics are forced on us.

  • THIS. I have the option of taking Metra+ walking, taking a CTA bus, or biking to work, all of which take nearly the same amount of time, so I've been taking Metra and biking lately just to avoid the RIDONKULOUSLY LOUD ADS for the olympic boondoggle. And, I totally echo Bob- the smarmy "ooh, washington park will be sooo much cooler without all the black people" shit makes me gag.

  • The one with Gary Hall is far more offensive!
    This clown, who goes around the country attacking cheating in sports has had his entire life paid for by his grandfather, the biggest cheater & thief this country had before Madoff!
    His grandpa is Charles Keating, the right wing public scold who stole $500 from the depositors of Lincoln Savings & caused the 1980s S&L collapse. Keating served a few years in prison, but his conviction was overturned because of "judicial errors".
    Keating now lives in luxury in Arizona, the money probably sits in the Caymans waiting for a few more years so it can cool off!
    The judge was Lance Ito, of OJ Simpson trial infamy!

  • I don't care if you're for or against the Olympics, the ads are annoying. Also, the ads are pointless. Like Kevin pointed out, we don't get a vote so why beat us over the heads (and ears) with these. Why would the CTA agree to this if they are not getting any money from it?

  • I have to say, I'm getting used to them and managed to tune out this morning's ad.

  • After October 2nd, depending on your feelings, we'll either be the 'victims' or 'victors' if Chicago does/doesn't get the Olympics. If we get them, then those that don't want them will have far more to complain about while those that do want them will take more interest in the planning required. I can only hope that CTA is getting some revenue from the Chicago bid group. What about a train or bus wrap to advertise ... "Now arriving ... the Comaneci Express to Evanston" ... "I took the Moran line to O'Hare yesterday". They are less annoying in terms of 'noise' but can be a bit 'in your face-ish'.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    20fie18, I hope I am "less annoying." The producer told me to punch it up, but maybe because I was fighting an oncoming head-cold, the extra low octave made my voice more mellow. By the way I wear #20 in Left Field for the Wheelchair Cubs. We have the Wheeled Series in New York this weekend. I'll tell you all about how it goes on your subway ride next week:) Oh, and I appreciate all your comments. Wait til you see the Paralympics here in 7 years!

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    More money for the CTA!

  • I would much rather listen to these ads rather than hearing all the other bs chatter as folks communicate loudly in all sorts of languages about trivial matters. If these calls were so important, why would you be talking on an 'L' train or a bus where you can hardly hear who you are talking with, requiring conversations to get louder and louder?


    At least listening to these ads I can peacefully read a book or the newspaper or relax.

  • These ads make my blood boil every time I hear them. They really don't annoy me any less over time. I complained to the CTA via email and got the following canned response:

    Thank you for your feedback. The CTA is airing messages in support of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games. The advertisements were produced and paid for by Chicago 2016.

    We appreciate your comments.


    Which didn't address my complaint, but that's no surprise. I said audio advertising was really annoying, especially pro-Olympic propaganda and they responded to say yes they are playing (paid) ads.

  • In reply to josh:

    Well, it at least establishes that the ads were paid. However, it doesn't establish whether CTA will engage in other auditory excesses (the Miller High Life guy or "Vote for Todd--No none else will."

  • In reply to jack:

    Indeed. I'm worried about the precedent being set as the CTA seems to become increasingly desperate for funds.

  • In reply to jack:


    I'm not sure that it does establish that. I read that as they were produced and paid for by the Chicago 2016...

    Meaning that that the CTA did not pay for them. I guess you could read it that that committee paid for them to be broadcast, but that's not how I read it.

    It's not entirely clear if you ask me, and that's probably how they want to keep it.

  • In reply to jack:

    This type of spending on the part of Chicago 2016 is wasteful. I wonder how many other wasteful spending decisions they have made.

    If this is any indication, how can we trust Chicago 2016 to spend taxpayer and donated funds wisely?

    The answer: WE CANNOT.

  • In reply to jack:

    Money would have been better spent by giving C.T.A. riders Olympic umbrellas or tote bags.

  • In reply to jack:

    When I'm commuting, I pay to get somewhere, not be in an audience. It's beyond annoying. I feel the same dull rage when there are commercials before a movie. I pay $20 bucks to be left the hell alone.

    The ads are obnoxious, just like the olympic games. It will displace neighborhoods, create a fake-boom which will lead to bankruptcy for Chicago.

    Instead of all this nonsense, how 'bout a mayor committed to building new subways, a mayor committed to extending bus lines, a mayor focused on integrating Chicago.

    Enough with the games, ads and 30 year reign of King Daley. It's our own damn fault. We celebrate the wrong things, like: famous last names and unrealistic competition.

    If you want to see the problem in Chicago, go to the magic bean in Millennium Park. Look into the bean. You can't miss it because the problem in Chicago will be staring right back at you.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's not really the content of this message that bothers me, but the way they are abusing the fact that us riders are a captive audience. My concern is that once this Olympic bid is done for, that they start playing more commercial messages... maybe the Macho Man will come back telling us to snap into a Slim Jim... and maybe then I'll start walking downtown!

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