It is a well known fact that the CTA train lines are in disarray right now. The Brown line going north is under construction and a bunch of stations are closed for rennovation; the Red line going north is also under construction and sharing track with the Brown line. The Blue line out to O'Hare is also undergoing some scheduled repairs and station renovations.
Thus with all these items, my expectations for today's CTA journey were LOW. However, the CTA managed to fall below even those low expectations.
I walked over to the Blue Line subway station at Grand and Milwaukee avenue. There is a station at Clark / Lake that is roughly the same distance from my house but it was a nice day so I figured I'd walk out west. The walk was nice in the sunshine and we headed down into the Subway.
When I got there - something amazing was going on - they were actually fixing the place up! They were painting the walls and scraping the hanging goo from the celing. They were also installing a closed circuit TV so you could watch the train not coming (see photo).
I was kind of surprised to see a ladder on the train track straddling the third rail - I went over and talked to some milling around CTA employees and they said both the trains to downtown and the trains out to O'Hare were sharing the same track, and waiting for each other in some dual track areas. After figuring this out I told a bunch of people who were waiting on the wrong side; the CTA wouldn't have bothered with like, a sign or anything.
The trains from the Grand station on the Blue line NEVER came. I assume they came eventually, but not in the 1/2 hour we waited in the station choking on new paint fumes and dust (the workers wore masks, not us hapless riders). There were no signs, no announcements, nothing, and people were confused. To make it worse, some people had luggage and were heading to O'Hare - relying on the CTA to get you somewhere on time is NOT a good idea.
After a while we gave up and left the station, taking the bus. Didn't want to trouble the CTA employee staring off into space in the little guard shack to ask for a refund; I knew that was hopeless. We probably were only charged for a transfer so the net trip wasn't that bad and the North bound Milwaukee bus worked well.
Going home, we saw a train sitting up at the Milwaukee / North / Damen EL station heading south. We went up there and the train was stopped; it had been for about 45 minutes or so. Many of the passengers were irate, but at least the conductor kept up with announcements, giving the phone # of the CTA and train # so people could call and complain. He was chuckling, too, and I don't blame him, since the situation was so ridiculous. However, the train started moving in 15-20 minutes or so, and we actually were able to get home.
One thing I DIDN'T take a photo of but WISH I had was that as the train was going south around the Chicago stop of the blue line I saw a worker in a hard hat with his back to the wall on the train tracks as the train went by. This CAN'T be acceptable from an OSHA perspective - I was amazed to see it. It was like something out of a movie - his back was against the wall and the train went right past him just inches away. The train had slowed down and wasn't flying down the tracks but it still was something to behold.