Robin Robinson: Why Chicago won`t get on the CTA - Dallas News |

Robin Robinson: Why Chicago won`t get on the CTA

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Driving this winter is killing my car and my patience.

Slippery roads, snowy shoulders, potholes, frozen wiper blades, all covered in a filthy layer of salt, mud and crud that invariably ends up on your coat because you have to touch the car as you exit from the driver's seat after finally maneuvering into a parking space that is precariously close to either another vehicle or a pile of snow ranging from a mound to a mountain.

Leaning on your nasty car for balance is the least or your concerns actually. Just glad to make it out alive.

Every close call with another driver conjures up visions of the horrific crash scenes caused by this winter of no retreat.

So, why won't I retreat from the driver's seat?

The Chicago metropolitan area has one of the nation's most extensive networks of buses and trains.

Public transit can relieve us from driving, relieve the roads of traffic and relieve the environment. Transportation experts say just a slight increase in ridership has a big impact.

Obviously those of us who are not in the habit of using trains and buses worry about the big impact it will have on our own comforts, such as on our flexibility, privacy, security, comfort, etc.

If we can afford it, maybe we've invested in cars with all the amenities we've come to love, monthly parking payments we've learned to live with, fuel we pretend will just cost more but not run out completely.

Of course, public transit has to meet us halfway.

This already notorious winter inspired a lot of people to turn to trains in particular during our first encounter with the dreaded polar vortex, only to find the heavy rail (Metra) was no more match for the extreme conditions than our puny automobiles. Hard to place blame for that, but there was a definite break-down when it came to communicating with passengers and providing contingency plans for their transport.

Even under the best of conditions, our public transit won't be mistaken for perfect transit.

Reliability, security and comfort are all in need of an upgrade.

Many of the regular passengers told me their non-transit friends are mostly intimidated by a system they aren't familiar with.

I feel confident on only a few routes, the Michigan Avenue bus, the Blue Line to O'Hare, the Red Line to Sox Park, the South Shore Line on Metra Electric, so I measured the learning curve outside my comfort zone – taking the 95th street bus to the Jeffrey Jump heading downtown.

Everyone who shuns public transportation has their perfectly valid reason, or excuses.

I'm going to try to at least dedicate one day a week to NOT DRIVE MY CAR. Why not more? See my excuse, followed by those of some fellow Chicago drivers , and one awfully cute passenger.

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