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JC Decaux has the exclusive contract for all street furniture, including bus shelters, "city information" boards, parking meters, newspaper boxes, etc in Chicago.

Similar to our new parking meters.



The City Information boards are just advertising. It seems as if one side is for municipal notices (such as the Chicago Library, note like everything by US cities temporary and permanent, it has "Richard M. Daley, Mayor" posted prominently - must be expensive to replace all that signage. I expecially disliked seeing that twit Kwame Kilpatrick's name all over Detroit). The other side are paid ads. I did not like them - served no real purpose and are perpendicular to the street, of course.


Note immediately outside the most busy/tourist areas, regular newspaper boxes can be found.


As Shawn Micallef noted, the bike infrastructure is a bit different. This was the only Toronto ring-and-post bike post, the rest (in the background) almost force bicycles to be locked perpendicular to the curb, an annoyance to pedestrians (though sidewalks downtown were mostly sufficiently wide).


While there aren't a lot of bike lanes downtown, or numbered bike routes, designated bike routes are identified with green signs. Also, recommended paths for bicyclists to various neighbourhoods and landmarks are posted.


One more thing I noticed is the old retro street lights all over Chicago, with few suburban standard lights. They really seem to be a Chicago thing, like our old Arc lamps.

For all those who hate anything of grit in Toronto (be it wooden poles and wires, streetcar overhead, so on), we don't have steel braces and wooden ties overhead some of our main streets. I liked riding the L myself, except on Lake Street, outside the loop, the trains run in alleys, allowing riders to see into backyards and windows.

Cumberland station on the Blue Line, in the median of the Kennedy Expressway. All Chicago stations, elevated, underground or in highway medians, are minimalist, and plain at best, otherwise old and dank. Being world class does not require fancy stations - the MTA is exhibit B in this case. Toronto stations may not be fancy, but they are generally clean and bright.


One of the Loop elevated stations. Note the wooden platforms. I thought it was neat.

CTA trains have automated announcements, which I thought were good, but a bit repetitive. The CTA’s announcements go like this: “The next stop is Library, State and Van Buren. Doors open on the right at Library, State and Van Buren. Transfer to Brown, Purple and Pink Line trains at Library, State and Van Buren.†In between, are regular announcements such as "Welcome to the CTA Red Line, run number 402" (if customers need to make a complaint or advisory), "Smoking is prohibited on all CTA vehicles, stations and platforms". A pleasant male voice, and soft, so it's not too hard to ignore. Unlike the nagging mommy who makes the annoying announcements in the TTC with the chime before.



The new Pink Line provides full service on the Douglas/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, and serves the Loop rather than the subway. The change was well promoted.


Quincy Station has been restored to resemble what a Loop station would have looked like 100 years ago, with certain liberties taken.










The other thing I liked about CTA, is when they got rid of tokens and cash fares at L stations (replaced with magnetic (like Metrocard, Translink, Travelcard) or touchless cards (like Oyster), the collectors became customer service agents, and are now out of their booths more often then they are, assisting people with the fare machines, providing directions, and they were very approachable. Since they were out of the booths, they were also providing an important security function. I can't wait for this for the TTC (an advantage of the smartcard), and screw Bob Kinnear et. al. if they put up a fight. The CTA station staff will actually confront violators, such as smokers, unlike TTC staff.

Though CTA trains are much less frequent than TTC subways, especially on weekends - every 8-10 minutes, and much shorter 45-foot cars (to run on the old steep curves of the L), and shorter trains - as short as 2 cars. Sometimes on weekends (never mind weekdays), capacity is a problem.


The interior of the old Union Station (which is beautiful) is not used for much, to get onto Amtrak or Metra Trains, you must go into a huge unerground maze to the east, under more modern office buildings. Not a great model for our Union Station, IMO.


I also took Metra, which has "gallery cars", which have second floors on each side of each car, with one seat. AMT has a few of these, and the design pre-dates the bilevels that GO pioneered. If you are without a ticket, the conductor will sell you a ticket, at a higher fee if you boarded at a station with an agent on duty. Interestingly, alcoholic beverages are permitted to be consumed on board unless otherwise noted.

Metra has a weekend fare, $5 for unlimited rides on any line, good for a Saturday and Sunday (could GO ever fathom offering something like this?). Most routes run weekends, but at best hourly, more commonly every 2 hours.

I took a train from LaSalle Station to Blue Island, where 8 minutes later on a Saturday, a Metra Electric train leaves for Randolph St, er, Millennium Station.



Next stop, Millennium Park, and my thoughts.
"I also took Metra, which has "gallery cars", which have second floors on each side of each car, with one seat."

Any interior pics? I've looked for a picture of this and haven't found any success.

Great pics, BTW.
The only one I could find. I did not get interior photos, easy to find CTA interiors, but not Metra (of which most pics are "foamer" loco shots)

This is the best I could find - note how the upper levels are partial along the windows. While lower level seats are mostly forward/backward facing (with reversable backs to set direction, or to make quads), seats on top are partly individual reversable forward/backward, partly perimeter.


I guess this as good a time as any to discuss CTA train seating arrangement. As I said, CTA L trains are shorter, with shorter and narrower cars than the TTC, but their seating is not perimeter, and attempts to have perimeter seating were not successful due to unpopularity. Note that forward facing seats are on the right in the direction of travel, and few inward-facing seats. IMO, a mixed seating system, like TTC's would help with crowds with the narrow, small cars, or more service!

This is of the newest cars in service, so some forward/backward seats are individual instead of doubled for more standing room.

From the great resource,

Again, no need to TTC to go with all permieter seating. Most places don't, and we have very wide cars in relation to these other places.
Excellent photos!

A few notes:

- The photos of the new Bombardier cars that were just ordered by the CTA show perimeter seating. Otherwise the cars look similar to today's cars.

- There is at least one more station which is not plain in addition to Quincy. Check out I wish our TTC stations looked like Chicago/State!

- Unless the situation has improved in the past few years, I found security in the CTA much worse than the TTC.
Great photographs. Thank you!

Bar cars are found on the Metro-North commuter rail lines running out of New York City to Connecticut, etc. They are kind of a travelling equivalent of the local pub, where everyone knows your name, because it's the same people most days. I can't imagine GO Transit trying any such thing (too innovative).

"State Street ... that great street" ... now running though my head! :)
Chicago-L is a great resource - about as good as for New York, all about the L. Transit-Toronto is worthy as our own Chicago-L or NycSubway.

GO Transit had, very briefly, at-your-seat coffee service, along with a counter on some of its cars as an experiment - I remember boarding a train with this, it would have been the late 1990s. Translink's West Coast Express has the Cappuccino Car. (If only GO had bar cars, could have made "Train 48" more interesting, har har)

I think the Metro-North service is a holdover from the railways that used to run. Amtrak has bar/coffee cars on most of its longer day trains (opposed to the cart up and down the aisle of VIA), and I prefer that - gives you an excuse to get out of your seat and walk the train, and more socializing opportunities.
There's one of these at Bay and Bloor now... quite nice. Is the plan to have them everywhere in TO?

Also at Yonge and Bloor, in front of the Bay Bunker. They are JC Deceaux, I heard they were lifted from Chicago and brought here as demonstrators.
Yeah, they look exactly the same. Works very well... matches the black garbage bins.
CTA On-Train Announcements

Something great that I noticed in Chicago last year was that the on-train announcements also indicated which to disembark on. Something like "State Street, Exit on the right side of the car". I thought that was a great idea - disembarking riders can prepare themselves ahead of time so that there's less shoving and mayhem once the train stops.
Re: CTA On-Train Announcements

Everyone: Good Chicago and CTA pics! They bring back lots of memories for me as I spent much time there between 1973-1988. My uncle worked for CTA for 28 years as a transit motorman so the memories are there also! LI MIKE
Re: CTA On-Train Announcements

Everyone: Good Chicago and CTA pics! They bring back lots of memories for me as I spent much time there between 1973-1988. My uncle worked for CTA for 28 years as a transit motorman so the trains bring back all kinds of personal memories also. LI MIKE