Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by orangeline
How would a routing such as the very limited "Brownage" (Orange from Midway to Adams/Wabash then Brown from Adams/Wabash to Kimball) and v.v. be numbered? There are only a limited number of trains each weekday in each direction. By your proposed scheme would the northbound trains be numbered 5->3 (5 to 3) and southbound 3->5 (3 to 5)?

Since you brought up NYC, the earliest trains, such as the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 9th Avenue lines and the shuttles along 34th and 42nd Sts didn't have displayed route numbers. It seemed to work well while it lasted. New York is an outlier in that with the exception of the G , 7, Franklin Shuttle, Rockaway Shuttle, and some truncated overnight routes, trains on all lines start in an outer borough, go through Manhattan and continue to an outer borough. Almost all the trunk lines have multiple routes running as either Express or Local so there has to be a way to differentiate them. Chicago doesn't have that problem (yet?).
  by ExCon90
Pittsburgh Railways had the famous "Flying Fraction" (77/54) for as long as the streetcars lasted, and I think Vienna still has a 5/31 during weekday rush hours. New York managed without route designators on the IRT and BMT (the numbers assigned to the BMT were displayed only on the front of the trains, not the sides, and were rarely referred to) until after letter designations were adopted for the IND. Regular riders were familiar with the routes they habitually used, but the system often baffled out-of-towners.
  by oknazevad
ExCon90 wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:36 pm Designation by color is useful only when a system has a relatively small number of lines because there is a limited number of readily distinguishable colors; I suspect that may be the reason why Los Angeles switched to letters. As it is, New York has to use two shades of green on its map, augmented by letters and numbers -- take the Pale Green from Queens to Brooklyn?. At one point New York produced a map with a different color for each individual route, resulting in about three different shades of blue, and a number of different shades of red; it didn't work and was quickly abandoned. Systems all over the world use letters or numbers, which are the clearest and simplest way of distinguishing between routes. I have trouble picturing a Puce Line, or a Mauve Line, or a Teal Line ...
The need for similar colors is exactly the reason given by Metro for LA switching to letters. Once you get beyond the basic 10 Crayola colors, they become only shades of the same general color, which makes it not only harder to describe the routes verbally, but can also be an issue with fading of signs and such making the colors look alike.
  by ExCon90
And Chicago already has two shades of red (the color that fades faster in sunlight than any other), and both yellow and orange -- although admittedly the yellow is well out of the way and unlikely to be confused with orange since it doesn't go downtown.
  by justalurker66
Fortunately Red and Pink only share tracks when Red runs "over the top" for maintenance and emergencies. Blue and Purple don't share tracks. And CTA has assigned multi-character names to the lines and put the names on many of the signs. (In other words, most Red line signs have the word Red on them and most Pink line signs have the word Pink on them.)
  by Gilbert B Norman
When I've been in New York, seems like the TRT, BMT, and IND was all I needed, albeit my riding was on the IRT (I might actually been a resident of NYC Sep '61 to same '62).

But here, what's wrong with the "color" lines? Admittedly, the only one I ever use is the Blue CUS to O'Hare as part of my "poor man's way to O'Hare" BNSF-CTA ($8.50; Senior Round Trip).
  by Gilbert B Norman
Meanwhile, back in New York, I mention IRT, BMT, IND to my "fiftysomething" Nephews, as well as to two girls formerly neighbors, both journalists (one is with The Times; still waiting to see her byline; other some online source), and all you get is "huh's".

Of course, Lettered routes have been around on the BMT "a while". Think Duke Ellington and "Take the A Train". Same with the IND. The IRT had numbers which still remain today. But to me, and my '60's knowledge of Manhattan, the IRA was simply Lexington Ave, Seventh Avenue, or the Shuttle.
  by ExCon90
Actually, the A train was on the IND. The BMT apparently had thoughts at one time of assigning numbers and actually displayed them (on the front signs only, and only on the triplexes) -- I remember the Brighton was 1 and the Sea Beach 4 --but I never heard anybody, crew or passengers, refer to them by anything other than their names. I can imagine out-of-towners looking at the side signs as trains pulled in: SEA BEACH, WEST END, 95TH ST.*, VIA BRIDGE, VIA TUNNEL -- do we take this one or not?
* That would be 95th St. in Brooklyn, not 95th St. in Manhattan, but since there's no 95th St. station in Manhattan it shouldn't be a problem, right?
  by justalurker66
A highly complicated system like NYC needs letters and/or numbers to help designate the lines. Less complicated systems like DC (WMATA) don't need numbers or letters ... colors work. CTA Rail fits into the latter category.
  by jonnhrr
Planners probably do not go for color named expressways because map makers typically use color to define class of road. One could have the red, blue and green expressways but coloring a map to match the names wouldn't be good. There are certainly streets with color based names.
Funny. In the Western suburbs of Philadelphia is an expressway which has an official name but everyone calls it the "Blue Route" because back when it was being planned they had several routes designated by color code and "blue" was the route option that was chosen. Then many years later after the usual NIMBY fracas it finally got built and the various options are long forgotten but the name stuck as it is easier to say than "mid county expressway" or whatever. Doesn't hurt that the name has continued to be used on the "traffic and transit" reports on the radio.

Back to the CTA I say keep the colors. They match what is on the electronic destination signs and make it easy for a visitor to quickly know which train to board especially at the Loop stations where it can get quite confusing.
  by Arborwayfan
Champaign-Urbana's bus routes all have letters and colors, like 5 Green. I don't think anything is actually colored to match the routes except the lines on the maps.