I have been staying in Oak Park and Forest Park for the past month for work, using public transit to get around. The communities are lovely, even in the cold and snow, but the condition of bus and rail stops could use some TLC.
If as a society we are trying to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels, and we want to reduce overall congestion on our local streets, a clean, safe, reliable, and let’s dare say fun public transit system should be part of that equation. But tired-looking el stations, like the Harlem station on the Green Line, which looks like it was built in 1962, is sad.
So are the litter-strung bus stops with electronic signs that display wrong information. The attached photo was taken at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday when service was still running but the sign was not working. Other times I’ve found information about when a bus comes inaccurate. Sometimes the sign counts down, the bus doesn’t show and the sign jumps to the next scheduled bus, and passengers are left shaking their heads.
These conditions will convert nobody to using public transit. In a politically progressive area, this should be a concern.
On another day after a snowfall and after the plows came through, I was walking east on Madison Street toward Harlem to catch the Pace 307 bus on Harlem. Everything, including the sidewalks, was plowed, but as I got closer to Harlem sidewalks were impassible.
Later that same trip I got off the bus on the southeast corner at Roosevelt to head over to the Jewel and I could not get close to the corner. Most bus stops are in bad shape, especially after snow. Passengers and bus drivers have to modify the pick-up location because conditions are pathetically dangerous.
If we are serious about climate change, we need to revisit the current state of public transit locally and think about how we can convert drivers to users in a practical way. The Harlem station needs a major league makeover and so, too, bus stops, especially after a snow.
Current conditions are simply unacceptable.