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CTA derails Santa train

Tribune reports today that the CTA is derailing Santa and his elves this year on the seasonal Holiday Train.

Santatrain_1 "It didn't seem appropriate to devote resources to this project when 1,250 positions are being eliminated" and bus and rail services face cuts, a CTA spokesperson said. It seems that some CTA employees have volunteered their time over the 12 years the Holiday Train ran to collect donations from riders for food pantries.

Earlier today, faithful readers Adonis and Jasmine both mentioned this dastardly derailment, wondering what we thought about it. (Thanks for the tip, guys!)

Actually, I'm torn. I see where they are coming from with a bunch of employees about to lose their jobs. But on the other hand, it doesn't cost much to operate the train. Maybe the CTA will be called Scrooges in their attempt to be sensitive to employees facing job losses.

What do y'all think?


I don't think the CTA could have won on this one. Either way that they decided someone was going to complain. One way they are Scrooges because it cost so little, the other they are wasting money while proposing a hike and cutting jobs no matter how little it costs.

wanna write a CTA book with me? you probably don't need or want any help, but i'm FASCINATED by this whole blog and i see stuff every day now that i want to contribute.

anyway... my story about the santa train is my friend, d, who shall remain anonymous for reasons shortly to become obvious, comes into a mutual meeting of AA one night. it becomes his turn to comment, and he is visibly restless, irritable and discontented.

all of a sudden, he launches into this hilarious rant about how and the "LAST thing he needed" in his day on his way to the meeting was to inadvertently board the holiday train replete with elves and ridiculously loud christmas music that made him feel like he was tripping. how he just wanted to get off but he didn't want to be late. how the music was deafening and how he wanted to go into a psychotic rage. all this, AND he is JEWISH!!

it was classic. i don't know that it made me want to ride the holiday train, though.

I never got to ride the Santa train, though last year I stumbled onto a 56 bus which was decorated. I don't remember if there was music or not, but the handrails were wrapped in red ribbon, the windows were decorated fake snow, and ornaments hung from the ceilings. It was actually quite magical, and my fellow commuters were actually not as grumpy as usual.

Chicagoist has this story here, and they're thinking maybe the train had a corporate sponsor. Any confirmation to that?

The Santa train has got me thinking now -- why don't I take it upon myself to decorate a train car for every season in the calendar? I'll do a disco themed "Love Train" (ya know, like The O' Jays song) for Valentines Day, complete with disco ball and makeout corner with beanbag seats. An Emerald Isle green car with strobe lights and moss for St. Patrick's Day. Oooh, it boggles the mind.

I think the CTA cleaning crew already helped out Jasmine with the St. Pat's theme. At least with the moss part.

Today the Tribune editorialized on Santa's derailment, calling it a "publicity ploy" that would deprive people of food baskets.

The Train is back! Now I get to ride it after all. Hurrah!

Are you serious!? The holiday would generate more revenue because you would have all the extra riders! This would be the 2nd year that I would take my son on this and he loved it last. If anything, charge more that day because you would get more ridership in those 5 weeks.


I stumbled onto the Santa train last year when I was running late, and took the Red Line downtown. I had no idea when I was standing there freezing my behind off at Howard that it was coming, but by the time I got off at Grand, I felt like a little kid again--if only for the 30 minutes or so I was on the train.

The people were all raving about just how cute it was ( I think the word I heard a kid use was "magical"), and the fact that any food donated would go to the hungry. Talk about bang for your buck--an enjoyable commute (fancy that on the CTA!), and the chance to do a good deed. Nice.

I say keep it around--and then make Blaggie ride it.

The cost of preparing the "Holiday Train" is very substantial.
The actual amount is not reported as the cost is spread by charging the straight time and many overtime hours involved to other routine functions.
A few employees "donate" their time(although it is usually repaid by granting comp time)but many union employees are paid and log many overtime hours on this project.

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