By Alex Johnson
Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014
Editor's note: Reporter Alex Johnson wrote this first-person piece about reporting on CTA train conditions with his mobile phone.
I rode CTA trains to scout platforms and stations in poor and crumbling conditions. Originally I wanted to do a project on the poor conditions of the trains themselves. However, upon further review I realized that the train platforms and underground stations are in far worse shape than the actual trains, many of which have been replaced in the past year.
My goal for the project was to show the vast differences in not only the different CTA train lines but the differences in the individual stations within each line. I focused primarily on the Red Line, with each station being so vastly different from one another. The Red Line runs both above and below ground so I wanted to pick a stations that represented each.
For my above-ground station, I immediately thought of the Sheridan stop. I live right next to the station and have always believed it to be one of the worst ones around. For starters, most platforms are made of concrete while Sheridan is made of old, decaying wood. The stairs are unusually steep and very narrow. I’ve seen many people struggle greatly to make their way up the stairs.
I got extremely lucky when I heard a man who lives in my building talking to his girlfriend at the Sheridan stop about how dangerous the Sheridan station had become. I asked him if I could interview him about it and he eagerly accepted. His story was a great addition to the project.
My next stop was the Clark/Division stop where the station has been “under construction” for over a year. The station is underground feels like it is on the verge of collapsing. If you look on the walls you can literally see pieces of the walls that are falling off. The station was also flooded in certain parts and mold was forming around the water.
I used Videolicious to edit the videos. I found it extremely easy and simple to use. The entire editing process took me no more than ten minutes, and I plan on using Videolicious a lot in the future.
Below are the videos I recorded on Videolicious as well as my interview with commuter Joe Walsh.
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