CHICAGO — The man behind the popular CTAFails Twitter account believes Chicago's public transportation is actually quite a success.
"Believe it or not, I actually think the CTA is a pretty solid transit system," said Ryan Smith, of North Center. "It's fairly reliable and they're successful way more often than they fail."
Still, Smith created the account in December 2012 when he was a Wrigleyville resident and waited for a morning rush hour Red Line train standing in the cold and snow at the Addison platform.
"I remember becoming increasingly frustrated, so I picked up my phone and searched Twitter for people mentioning the CTA and I saw a seemingly endless stream of frustration. In a weird way, it made me feel better," Smith said.
"It was nice to see that my thoughts were being echoed by many other Chicagoans and I thought, 'Maybe there's an opportunity here.' Whenever I was having CTA issues before, I had always used the hashtag #CTAFails or #CTAFail, just for fun, so that's where the name @CTAFails came from. So there on the Addison Red Line platform, @CTAFails was born."
Recently, Smith added a CTAFail Instagram account to the mix. He'll be posting about one photo a day to Instagram, which is where he receives a majority of his Twitter photos from.
Shortly after he started the CTAFails Twitter account, Smith had 1,000 followers; he now has 12,000-plus. The Instagram account has about 150 followers. Smith said Instagram will allow him to write more information on each post, as Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters.
"People had been asking me to join Instagram for a while," Smith said.
Smith said he receives dozens of tweets from folks complaining of CTA failures. That includes train delays, people putting bags on seats next to them, unruly and very poorly dressed passengers, and breaking news like a derailment.
"By no means should we be considered the place to go to find out if there are delays or serious issues," Smith said.
The CTA previously told DNAinfo it doesn't mind the scrutiny.
"We've got a tough skin about that stuff," CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said in 2013. "That's not a deterrent for us. ... We want people to say what’s on their minds."
Smith said he's been overwhelmed how many people have thanked him for starting the account, and he's hoping Instagram's followers have similar feelings.
"I've had some people tell me that tweeting out their CTA-related aggression is therapeutic and after they do it, they end up feeling better. Or that by reading what others are experiencing, that they feel better about their own commute," Smith said. "That's really why I started this to begin with. I was annoyed that day in 2012 and reading what other people had to say was making me feel better. It has really become a community."
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