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While preparation is good, I really don’t want to have to use it…

July 16, 2012, 11:19 PM

So I’m going to Chicago with Mom in a little more than a week.  Like every time we go to Chicago, we’re taking the Capitol Limited both ways, and we’re going to be taking the “L” to get around the city.  So far, it looks like it’s going to be a fun trip.

And then of course, you’re welcome to place your bets on how long it takes for a CTA employees with a chip on their shoulder to harass me about photography in the system.  Recall that last year, a CTA employee at Fullerton station made a scene about photography.  Additionally, I was harassed about it at Howard station in 2010.  I occasionally get the same crap from WMATA employees in DC, but I have learned that I can shut them down fairly easily just by standing up to them.  I have found that CTA employees are a little tougher to crack than the DC folks, but my lack of access to Chicago transit (living in the DC area and all) makes it harder to figure out what quickly shuts them down.

Now going into this, I have two things in my favor.  First, I have the official CTA photo policy from their website.  It states:

The general public is permitted to use hand-held cameras to take photographs, capture digital images, and videotape within public areas of CTA stations and transit vehicles for personal, non-commercial use.

Large cameras, photo or video equipment, or ancillary equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. are prohibited (except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA).

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from entering, photographing, or videotaping non-public areas of the CTA’s transit system.

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from impeding customer traffic flow, obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers, blocking doors or stairs, and affecting the safety of CTA, its employees, or customers. All photographers and videographers must fully and immediately comply with any requests, directions, or instructions of CTA personnel related to safety concerns.

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Categories: Amtrak, CTA, Photography

Safety is important on Metro, but let’s not tiptoe around the elephant in the room…

June 18, 2012, 11:05 PM

So I was at Judiciary Square station today on business, and noticed a few new things in the station:

New wall-mounted camera

Three-way camera mount on top of the PIDS screen

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Categories: CTA, MBTA, Security, WMATA

I have never before seen such unprofessional behavior from a transit employee…

August 9, 2011, 9:33 PM

First of all, I’m back from Chicago, and Mom and I certainly had fun. We did a whole lot of things while we were there, which included tons and tons of walking – on streets, up and down stairs, and through buildings. If you could walk to it, we walked to it.

But when it was too far to walk, we took the Chicago “L” for the most part. And when I ride a transit system outside of the Washington DC area, rail geekery ensues. By the way, it’s harder for me to get all geeky on Metro for just normal riding as of late, since I take it every day and all.

So on Friday, August 5, Mom and I were heading to the Magnificent Mile from our hotel in Evanston on the “L”, with the intention of going to see the John Hancock Center. Got on at Davis station, where we caught a Purple Line express train to the Loop, and then transfer to a Red Line train at Fullerton. Once on the Red Line, we were getting off at Chicago station.

When we got to Fullerton, we got off our Purple Line train, and stood on the platform awaiting our Red Line train. While waiting, I got busy being a railfan. First I shot a movie:

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Categories: Chicago, CTA, Security, Some people

Metro has officially let the cat out of the bag…

July 25, 2011, 9:43 PM

It’s true. The cat is out of the bag. Last week, because of the extreme heat, Metro relaxed its longstanding prohibition on consuming beverages in the system, allowing riders “to carry and consume bottles of water on the system.” Take a look:

Metro's press release allowing water on trains
(Click it to see the full view of it, screen-capped from Metro’s site)

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Categories: CTA, MBTA, Weather, WMATA

Realized I’d not finished telling you about Chicago…

January 6, 2008, 11:55 AM

It’s also been more than a week since the last time I posted an entry here. My, how time flies. Happy new year, everyone!

We went back to the Magnificent Mile on Saturday, and Mom and Sis kind of dragged me around a bunch of stores down there again. But then things got better. John Hancock Center! While the ladies continued to shop, I got to take a ride up a very tall building once again, and went to the top of Hancock. And let me tell you something… between the Sears Tower and the Hancock Center, go for Hancock. The John Hancock Center, unlike the Sears Tower, knows what you came there to do. You came to see the view. It’s just one line past the ticket counter and up to the elevators. This is compared to Sears Tower, where it’s multiple lines, each for a different thing, plus a movie. Additionally, the elevators on John Hancock made my ears pop, while the ones at the Sears Tower didn’t. Kind of cool if you ask me…

Then later in the day, while everyone else went to a play, I got to railfan Chicago! Yaaaaaaaaay! I got to travel on parts of every line except Blue and Yellow, and got to see what “blinker” doors were all about on the Pink Line. Those railfan photos will eventually make it to Transit Center after that site comes back.

Then Sunday, before we left, we got to go around the Loop a bit, after checking our luggage at Union Station. We went to “The Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza”, where, in The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood paid the tax assessment for the orphanage where they once lived. We also got to see the big Christmas tree at the former Marshall Fields flagship store (now Macy’s), and then went around to Millennium Park, where we saw the Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, and also the Crown Fountain, which consists of two tall glass-brick video screens showing images of various people’s faces. There’s also water involved here, but as it was like twenty degrees outside, the water was not running.

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Categories: Amtrak, Chicago, CTA

As someone who comes from an area where the transit system is mostly concrete, seeing this much wood is really a surprise.

December 28, 2007, 7:22 PM

Mom and I are on our second day in Chicago, and it’s been a lot of fun. I met the parents of Chris Lysy, Sis’s fiance (that still sounds so weird), and we’ve seen a bit of the city. This is certainly not DC, let me tell you that.

So where have we been? We arrived at Union Station yesterday, met Sis and Chris, took the Brown, Red, and Purple Lines of the “L” train to Evanston, where our hotel is, met the Lysys, and then we went around the city a bit. We arrived in the Loop, and went to the observation deck of the Sears Tower. We waited in SO many lines for that. First line was to take the elevator down to the ticketing area. Then the line to go through security. Then the line to purchase the tickets. Then the line to wait to see the orientation film. Then the line to wait for the elevator. Then the line at the observation deck to take the elevator back down. Quite a production. But it was pretty good. The film was informative, and the observation deck offered a 360-degree view from the 103rd floor. I was disappointed that it wasn’t open-air, but hey, it was still fun, and I got a LOT of photos.

One thing about it, though: big elevators loaded with people make me nervous. This was after living in Potomac Hall, where the elevator would make a sudden drop when it arrived at the desired floor. The higher the floor, the bigger the sudden drop. Additionally, the more people in the elevator, the bigger the drop. Scared the crap out of you if you weren’t expecting it, and even if you were expecting it, it was still somewhat unsettling. Thus it’s left me with a slight fear of elevators loaded with people. However, this one went off without a hitch, and they had a video monitor with some cartoons on it in the elevator near the ceiling for people to watch. Still, even with all the various safety features on the elevator, the idea of having a 103-story hole right below me makes me somewhat uptight.

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Categories: Chicago, CTA, Family