Category Archives: Interviews

New York City Transit Vs. Chicago Transit

Public transit in New York City, the most populated city in the United States, is probably everything you could imagine it to be. The New York City Transit Authority, branded as MTA New York City Transit, is by far the largest and busiest transit system in the United States and North America. The system comprises of a subway system, railway system, a bus system, and a bus rapid transit system. In first place ahead of Chicago, it has many similarities to the CTA.

How the NYCTA operates:

New York City Subway

Owned by the City of New York, is the subway rapid transit system operating in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Staten Island Railway

Rapid transit line in Staten Island.

NYCT Department of Buses

A bus network serving all boroughs, operated under MTA Regional Bus Operations.

Dynamics of each:

New York City Subway

The New York City Subway system is the largest rapid transit subway system in North America, consiting of 468 stations across a 842 track-milage system. The system offers 24-hour service across all boroughs except for Staten Island. The general fare is the same as Chicago, $2.25.

The ‘L’ in Chicago has a long standing culture attached to it, but its depth compared to the New York City Subway can be debated. The MTA in New York sponsors a program called Music Under New York. More than 300 performers and music ensembles participate in over 7000 annual performances in about 25 stations across the system. There are also several retail outlets built by the MTA for businesses to sell newspapers and other products to transit users daily.

Like Chicago, the MTA experienced a budget crisis. Train fares increased 3 times from 2008 through 2010. Similar to Chicago, part-time train routes were cut and several bus lines were cut, shortened, or rerouted.

The subway system has its fair share of problems that Chicago most of the time does not have. Often times due to aging systems and poor construction, subways are heavily flooded during storms. This causes big delays and disruptions to service. Since 1992, over $300 million has been used to improve 269 pump rooms.

Terrorism is another big issue the MTA has to deal with on their subways. After the September 11 attacks, subways have been targeted or plotted on several times, even as recent as 2008 and 2009.

NYCT Department of Buses

The NYCT Department of Buses is the division of the MTA that serves as the bus system for New York City. It is operated by its parent company, the MTA Regional Bus Operations (founded in 2008) and has 12,499 stops, 181 local and limited-stop routes, 27 express bus routes, and 3 Select Bus Service routes.

Buses are labeled with a prefix (B for Brooklyn, Bx for the Bronx, M for Manhattan, Q for Queens, S for Staten Island, and X for Express) and a number.

A unique feature that the NYCT Department of Buses has is color coded bus stops. These codes not only have the bus number and prefix on it for the select route that stops there, but it tells the rider what type of route it is. Blue is for a local service route, purple is a limited stop route, green is for an express route, black is for late night routes only, turquoise is for the Select Bus Service, and yellow is for special school service buses. Chicago could greatly benefit from that if it decided to reform its bus system.

Fares are the same as CTA buses, $2.25 general fare for a one-way trip.

Staten Island Railway

The Staten Island Railway is one rapid transit train line running north-south through Staten Island (14 miles long). At its final north stop, it offers a ferry service to get to Manhattan (Staten Island Ferry).

Interview w/ Chicago resident and NYC MTA user:

By Calvin Nichols


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Safety Interview with a CTA Rider

Ashley*, a UIC student who was robbed on the CTA, shares with us her experience through an online Q&A.

*Name has been changed

Q1: What happened when you were robbed on the CTA?
A: I was walking up the stairs to get to the train station when two men approached me from behind and told me to sit on the steps. One of them sat next to me while the other one stood in front of us. They told me to open my purse. The one sitting next to me went through my things and grabbed my wallet and cell phone. He took the money and my ATM card out of the wallet and gave it back to me. After that they ran away with the money, card, and the phone. During the whole time they kept saying that they would hit me if I did not do what they were telling me.

Q2: Where were you when this happened?
A: This happened at the Ashland green line stop.

Q3: What did you do afterward? (contact CTA staff, police, etc)
A: After they ran away I went upstairs to the station and told the security person. She then called the police and a “CTA security supervisor.” Both the police and the security supervisor asked me to recount what had happened. The police offered me to drive me home but at that point I had already called my husband to pick me up.

Q4: What could the CTA have done to prevent this sort of situation or help make it safer?
A: The police asked me a few times to describe the men. It happened in the winter so it was dark at 4pm. In addition I was so scared that I could not really look at them. I wish CTA had cameras at the stations. Maybe the police would have caught these men if they were able to identify them from a video.

Q5: Was there security involved? (camera footage, CTA staff to help, emergency buttons, etc)
A: There was a security person inside the station but she did not see anything. I think that at the time when it happened, they did not have cameras at that station. Later, I found out that they were installing security cameras.

Q6: How has this affected the way you view the CTA or the way you travel on it now?
A: The first months after the incident I was scared to take the train. Now I am a lot more cautious and I pay more attention to my surroundings and people on the CTA.

Q7: What do you use the CTA for? (shopping, school, work, etc)
A: I use CTA a lot, actually. I [ride the CTA for] school, shopping, work, and entertainment. I would say I am on the CTA at least 4 to 5 days a week.

Q8: What are safety tips that you would give someone taking the CTA trains or buses?
A: Definitively be aware of your surroundings. Always look back before going up or down the stairs at certain train stations.

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Interview with CTA user Tony D.

By Gia Donofrio

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