CHICAGO (CBS) — A few of the 1,300 United Airlines employees relocating to Chicago got the chance Wednesday to tell Mayor Rahm Emanuel what they do and don’t like about their new home.
Emanuel sat down with the employees for an hour at United’s offices in the Willis Tower, discussing why he thinks Chicago is attracting more families and companies. He also heard from some of the airline’s newest Chicago-based employees.
United asked that their workers remain anonymous.
A few employees who relocated from Houston or Elk Grove Village complained about crowded CTA trains.
“Probably three … two or three days a week, we won’t get on the train, because it’s already full,” an employee from Houston said.
A colleague originally from New York echoed that sentiment.
“I drive to work,” he said. “I did take the CTA and that was unpleasant.”
But one of the workers found another less-crowded way to get to work.
“I take the water taxi to work,” he said.
“You really do?” Emanuel asked.
“It only runs five months a year,” the man added. Several different tour boat companies also operate water taxis that run along the Chicago River and provide transportation between Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center and several other downtown spots along the river, including the Willis Tower and Navy Pier. Some water taxis also run along Lake Michigan between the Museum Campus and Navy Pier.
That employee also asked about the proposed CTA express train to O’Hare, a dream of former Mayor Richard M. Daley that has gone unfulfilled for several years.
Emanuel said that plan has been put on the back burner.
“On the Blue Line, I have actually people working on what would it take to take 10 minutes off that travel,” Emanuel said. “That to me is more of an immediate.”
Officials hope repairs between Belmont and Damen on the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line can eliminate existing slow zones and speed up the commute from the airport to downtown.
Another United employee said she thinks Chicago is a great improvement over Houston or her birthplace, Sao Paolo, Brazil.
“There is this natural beauty component, I think, that lacks there,” she said.
Several United workers agreed that Chicago is full of beauty and life and they’re happy to be here.