The 3 Ghosts of Passengers (Past, Present, and Future)
Pay a Visit to Scrooge at CTA
Once upon a time -- of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve -- old Scrooge left his busy office on Lake Street, CTA Headquarters, where he kept a close eye on public transit in Chicago.
Having supped on a meager meal, he took to his bed to rest, only to be disturbed by an apparition who entered his bed chamber.
“How now!” said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. “What do you want with me? “Who are you?”
“Ask me who I was.”
“Who were you then? said Scrooge, raising his voice.
“I am the Ghost of CTA Service in the Past," in 1947, when CTA began, before 69 bus routes were eliminated, 133 L stations were closed, and 20 fare increases took place. Take my arm and I will show you the transit system we once had.”
North, south and west the spirit took him, showing him how easily one could travel around the city.
“Remove me, Scrooge exclaimed, “I cannot bear it.” “Take me back. Haunt me no longer.”
"But we have yet to see, within the past 5 years, how 28 bus routes were eliminated altogether, 7 routes were shortened, and the hours of service were reduced. Twenty-four hour service just about disappeared."
Relenting, "So be it,” said the spirit, and Scrooge was overcome by an irresistible drowsiness, and sank into a heavy sleep.
He lay there for some time in his bed, only to again be disturbed by a blaze of light which streamed upon him, when the clock proclaimed the hour.
There was a ghostly light as if in an adjoining room. “Come in,” exclaimed the Ghost. “Come in and know me better.” Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Sprit, and though the Spirit’s eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them.”
“I am the Ghost of CTA Service At Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me.”
“Spirit," said Scrooge submissively, “conduct me where you will. I went forth last hour, and I learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have something to teach me, let me profit by it.”
"Touch my robe.” Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
The Spirit took him to bus stop and station, with people waiting, in the cold and snow, only to have three buses come at once, and then cutting off early, stranding them with no way to get home. He showed him senior citizens who were needlessly made to pay what little money they had to use transit to go buy a quart of milk. And last of all a long line of passengers tapping and tapping fare cards to get on a bus, not knowing what they had paid.
The bell struck the hour, Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it no more.
Rest was not to come, for then a phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.
“I am in the presence of the Ghost of CTA Service To Come,” said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its hand.
“You are about to show me things that have not happened,
but will happen in the time before us,” Scrooge pursued.
“Is that so, Spirit?”
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds, as if the
Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer he received.
The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of passengers. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.
“No,” said one, “I don't know much about it, either way. I only know it’s all gone.”
"When did it go?" inquired another.
“It began when they stopped funding it at the federal, state and local level, and increased transit fares every few years without justification for it. Ridership declined, and soon only rush hour service was left, with nothing operating during off-peak times. The Governor, Mayor, aldermen, state senator and representatives, and congressmen stood by and did nothing to fund it any longer.”
Suddenly then, Scrooge found himself back in his bed. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!
He dressed himself all in his best, and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth to use public transit.