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If CTA switched to letters for rail lines

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1 hour ago, Busjack said:

 

I might have made an exaggeration, but your last sentence is the direction I was going, that the UP used Northwestern Station, except that it only acquired the C&NW in recent history, and basically the UP was west of Kansas City until its merger binge. But one can determine that the gondolier's assertion was wrong without even knowing which railroads built it.

UP used the Northwestern Station and C&NW for 75 years until 30th October 1955. The passenger trains then entered Chicago on the Milwaukee Road and ended up in Union Station in Chicago until May 1971. The primary reason for the switch was the C&NW was not cleaning the cars inside like they had in the past and the UP was buying newer equipment that the C&NW could not afford and C&NW wanted out of the long distance train service.This resulted in a deterioration in track quality on the C&NW leading to a bumpy ride and bad timekeeping.

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5 hours ago, Passenger said:

If there are ever too many lines in Chicago for colors to be convenient, better to use numbers, because you never run out of those.

 

But numbers would be easily confused with bus routes.

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Who actually started the color-coding? Boston was an early user - with Green (light rail), Red, Orange, Blue, Purple (commuter). New York tried as early as 1960's with a color for each line, but that was way too complex and in about 1980 went to a color for each Manhattan trunk. Atlanta is kind of odd with Red and Gold for N-S and Blue and Green for E-W. But basically, doesn't it seem like in the late 20th century expectations of what the public can comprehend dropped? For many years you were expected to read and think. Now it seems you can only be expected to have an almost Pavlovian response of Red = my train, Brown or Purple = not my train. Notice also the major train wrecks in recent years in almost all cases involved humans making basic simple mistakes, such as engineers forgetting where they are and conductor forgetting to line the switch back for the main line? Can't trust people to think any more, can we?

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46 minutes ago, andrethebusman said:

For many years you were expected to read and think. Now it seems you can only be expected to have an almost Pavlovian response of Red = my train, Brown or Purple = not my train.

It seems in most cases, if not just Chicago, that it transformed from colors on a map to official names of lines. The Chicago justification, which I still think is valid, is that, for instance, those Koreans who were basically knowledgeable only in their own language could not read RAVENSWOOD in white on black. I don't know if Hispanics are aided by references to "la linea cafe," which was on some CTA car cards.

Obviously, it stuck enough in Chicago that amber LED signs were changed to the multicolor HD ones.

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6 hours ago, andrethebusman said:

But basically, doesn't it seem like in the late 20th century expectations of what the public can comprehend dropped? For many years you were expected to read and think. Now it seems you can only be expected to have an almost Pavlovian response of Red = my train, Brown or Purple = not my train. Notice also the major train wrecks in recent years in almost all cases involved humans making basic simple mistakes, such as engineers forgetting where they are and conductor forgetting to line the switch back for the main line? Can't trust people to think any more, can we?

After considering improvements in technology and safety regulations, what caused train wrecks in the past? Yes, humans made "basic simple mistakes", or perhaps a series of mistakes. I'm not even sure how your point about train wrecks actually supports your generalization as applied to CTA colors. You are confusing cause and effect. Navigating an unfamiliar city requires quite a bit of reading and thinking. Calling "the line to Howard" the Red line does not change that people are still expected to read a map, station signs, etc. to figure out where they're going. 

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What I am saying is that over time expectations are being reduced. A hundred years ago, you were expected to think. If you didn't or couldn't, you didn't survive. Now, everything is being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Ever look at CTA's very first map, in 1947? A very different expectation was at work. It was very accurate geographically, but not very good on specifics. You had to figure out a lot of things yourself. It of course helped that almost all routes ran 5am-1am daily, and the vast majority were 24 hour, but you still had to find out, by trial and error, which did not. Which is exactly what people did. And a lot more did than seem to be able to figure out today's much more "simplified" and "customer friendly" map.

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2 hours ago, andrethebusman said:

What I am saying is that over time expectations are being reduced. A hundred years ago, you were expected to think. If you didn't or couldn't, you didn't survive. Now, everything is being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Ever look at CTA's very first map, in 1947? A very different expectation was at work. It was very accurate geographically, but not very good on specifics. You had to figure out a lot of things yourself. It of course helped that almost all routes ran 5am-1am daily, and the vast majority were 24 hour, but you still had to find out, by trial and error, which did not. Which is exactly what people did. And a lot more did than seem to be able to figure out today's much more "simplified" and "customer friendly" map.

I don't know what you personally know about 70 years ago, but that was a time when a lot of immigrants were coming from war torn areas, and I suppose they asked  theiir neighbors what to do, and also  lived closer to where they worked. 

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3 hours ago, andrethebusman said:

What I am saying is that over time expectations are being reduced.

Quite frankly, I suspect this is a thinly veiled "younger people are stupid" rant. You make a lot of exaggerations, such as:

3 hours ago, andrethebusman said:

A hundred years ago, you were expected to think. If you didn't or couldn't, you didn't survive. Now, everything is being dumbed down

The CTA has always been confusing to some extent. When people are confused, they look for information to resolve their confusion. Specifically regarding the CTA, that information has always been available, but there are new sources. The "expectation" that you had to "read and think" to learn it has not changed.

As @Busjack noted, the color identifiers mainly help those who couldn't read English. For someone who does read English, "Ravenswood" or (brown) is not a significant difference. So color-coded lines are not an example of how "expectations of what the public can comprehend have dropped".

3 hours ago, andrethebusman said:

you still had to find out, by trial and error, which did not. Which is exactly what people did. And a lot more did than seem to be able to figure out today's much more "simplified" and "customer friendly" map.

Aside from whether your obvious bias is influencing your observations, how do you quantify "a lot more"? If people were really figuring things out by trial and error, they necessarily would have been confused at times. And as I said above, plenty of things about the CTA are still confusing, which is the more likely explanation for people "not being able to figure out the simplified map".

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4 hours ago, Pace831 said:

Specifically regarding the CTA, that information has always been available, but there are new sources.

That gets me to another point, which shows  that Andre got it backwards. It's doubtful that CTA (or nearly anything else) was customer focused, 70 years ago (or any time since). On the other hand, it took engraving and lead type to print a map. There wasn't computer composition until the late 1970s. I suppose by Andre's theory, suburban passengers were much smarter in the 1970s, when the timetables were typewritten.

I'll disagree with you  that CTA was always this confusing. Other than abandoning some  marginal L lines and  the changes  with the L extensions in 1969 and 1970, the system remained unchanged until 1973. And while some "historian" might now find it significant whether a map indicated owl, CTA service was regular enough that it did not print  timetables for each route, at least through the 70s. It was known that major routes ran every 3 to 10 minutes. That isn't the case  today.  

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31 minutes ago, Busjack said:

I'll disagree with you  that CTA was always this confusing. Other than abandoning some  marginal L lines and  the changes  with the L extensions in 1969 and 1970, the system remained unchanged until 1973. And while some "historian" might now find it significant whether a map indicated owl, CTA service was regular enough that it did not print  timetables for each route, at least through the 70s. It was known that major routes ran every 3 to 10 minutes. That isn't the case  today.  

I didn't mean to imply that CTA was always confusing for the same reasons it is today, so I basically agree with you on that.

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