General Manager, Customer Information
Chicago Transit Authority
Graham Garfield has had a lifelong interest in transportation and urban development, planning, design and history, and at the age of 31 is already an 11-year veteran at the Chicago Transit Authority. Beginning as an intern, he worked his way up to his current role as general manager of Customer Information, holding management positions in Rail Operations and Capital Construction along the way. He is also a well-known and respected resource of transit history in Chicago.
Since 1997, Graham has written, maintained and taken photos for www.chicago-L.org, a comprehensive historical website about Chicago’s rapid transit system. He has published several articles in print, including a three-part history of rapid transit to Chicago Midway International Airport, CTA’s modern-day Orange Line. Garfield has conducted several historical tours of the ‘L’ over the years, and given lectures on Chicago transit history, architecture and design to train docents for public tours at the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Chicago History Museum. Garfield boasts an impressive collection of CTA artifacts, from which he has loaned materials for use in publications and, additionally, has consulted with the Smithsonian on aspects of CTA history. He spent nine years on the board of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association and currently serves on the board of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society.
Garfield started at CTA as an intern in the Real Estate and Community Development Department while working on his undergraduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He continued this internship while completing his graduate degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, moving on to a full-time position working on special projects in the facilities department. Two years later he became a manager in Capital Construction overseeing construction, renovation and repair work on CTA facilities. After another two years, as a transportation manager in Rail Operations, Garfield gained invaluable experience responding to interruptions and delays, coordinating restoration of service and managing accident and incident sites.
Garfield’s current position in the CTA Communications Department was newly created at the time of his appointment, and combines departments previously managed by different areas. He has used this opportunity to focus on streamlining and standardizing the CTA brand in all customer-facing visual communications platforms. Seen in the updating of the CTA signage system, a total redesign of CTA’s website, in brochures and printed customer alerts, and the launch of CTA Train Tracker, these widespread efforts have been extremely visible and so important to the customer experience – to which he is very committed.
“I grew up around Chicago and used transit from a young age. I became fascinated and enthralled with both the city and urban fabric, and mass transit, as a young person. My continuing interest and exposure developed my interest in the public transit field in general. I chose to major in urban planning in college, which further affirmed my interest. My diverse array of experiences at the Chicago Transit Authority over the last 12 years contributed greatly to my being chosen for the role I have today. I was fortunate to have a series of supervisors and coworkers who recognized my enthusiasm and supported my professional development. My time spent in a number of roles and areas within the agency – from infrastructure to construction to maintenance to transit operations – allows me to approach my work from many different perspectives, and tailor it to the needs both of my colleagues and our passengers.”