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Catching up: The case against "continuous riders"

In the last couple of weeks a couple of big CTA stories broke that I didn't get a chance to cover or comment on. This is my attempt to do so.

On Nov. 22, Mike Doyle of Chicago Carless fame wrote a well-researched piece about the CTA's newest efforts to crack down on what it calls "continous riders" -- passengers who ride to the end of a rail terminal and board another train going in the opposite direction. Often folks who do this are homeless.

Continuous riders sign Doyle is angry that the CTA should now start aggressively enforcing this rule, saying it's aimed squarely at the homeless: "It’s pretty clear who these new “continuous riding” signs are aimed at. I can’t imagine a reasonable Chicagoan believing that homeless people are not the obvious and only target here."

But Doyle didn't just angrily rail against this policy. He reached out to the CTA with a series of well-thought-out questions to try and determine what was behind this new crackdown. The CTA had their typical PR spin that it wasn't to crack down on homeless, but "to remind CTA customers of the policy which prohibits customers from continuously riding the same line without payment of another fare, and as an aid to law enforcement in dealing with violators of this rule.”

Now, I like Mike Doyle. He writes a great blog. I met him at the first Coffee with Ron. And I truly appreciate his passion for this topic. But I do disagree with him here. The CTA has always announced as the Red Line pulls into Howard that Howard is the last stop and all passengers must leave the train. And as reported here, the CTA also has worked with Thresholds to get services to the homeless.

The CTA is having enough funding problems that it shouldn't allow anyone to ride continuously for free. Then there's the sanitary problems presented when "continuous riders" have to "go" and stink up the rail car. Plus, I think the homeless are not the CTA's problem.

I do think the CTA should continue to work with social service agencies, and refer "continuous riders" when at all possible. Perhaps they could arrange an "intervention" of sorts with an agency like Thresholds. Target a night when the CTA enforces the rule but with Thresholds by their side to take the homeless to shelters if they wish.

(Photo by Mike Doyle)

Comments

This seems unenforcable. One can just transfer at the station before the terminal.

If this is not targetted at the homeless, will I also get fined when I get on a purple line instead of a brown and take another back to Belmont.

The CTA should fight the cleanliness issue directly.

My understanding is that it is targeted at those who make a habit of continuously riding. I think that enforcement of this rule would be positive for the system overall since the people who ride back and forth will have to pay an additional fare, but I wonder how it will be enforced. Also, as mentioned previously, what is to stop someone from switching at Jarvis or Rosemont? Unless people are forced to leave the intermediate stations, I think that the problem will just move there.

In theory, the homeless, many of whom are legally disabled due to their mental problems are then also eligible for the free rides from the new free rides law for the low income disabled.
So if someone that has the free ride card is caught as a continuous rider, exactly what are the police going to do?
Walk them to the turnstile & make them go through it at the end of the line each time?

Kevin, I agree with you here. Good post.

Thank you for the wonderful coverage and the kind words about my research and my blog. I actually think we agree more than your post lets on.

I'm not saying riders should be allowed to stay on the trains and continuously ride except in dangerous weather circumstances when there is no other option (i.e. life-threatening winter temperatures outside and no immediately available shuttle or other means to get to a shelter). Smelly or not, no one should ever be put out in weather like that with no care given to their safety.

However, outside of zero-degree January and February temperatures, I think the agency should provide more assistance to homeless riders before asking them to leave the system. Perhaps creating index cards listing available nearby shelters or service agencies near each terminal, asking whether the homeless person has enough money to get to a shelter should they choose to go, and calling the city's Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to try and get transportation to a shelter for riders asked to leave the system.

All of that of course is potential assistance and the homeless person need not take it. But there should be more robust, compassionate options in between "I'm a rider with money and a home" and "Get out of our system you homeless rule violator".

At base, this is a criminalization of being homeless, a circumstance that has to be one of the most stressful, painful moments of a anyone's life. To those who say, "not my (or the CTA's) responsibility", I say of course it is. By dint of our common humanity, we are all responsible for each other, fellow human beings on this planet.

And as I've said before, I know I can much more quickly and easily change seats or cars that a homeless rider sitting next to me can wave a magic wand and find an income, a home, or the bravery to face a potentially (in their mind) dangerous shelter.

I know there has to be a way forward here where we all have our needs met with caring and compassion, homeless rider or not.

(And as long as I'm here, Happy Holidays to all!)

So does this mean that if I miss my stop I have to exit and pay another fare to catch a train back to where I wanted to go? Also, the CTA tells people to do this during construction, when trains only stop at certain stations going one direction (meaning, southbound train skips station A, so you go to station B and then catch a northbound train to station A). I'd hate for some overzealous transit cop to ticket me in any of these situations. Clearly these rules are only aimed at the homeless, as I don't see the rules being enforced for regular riders in the situations I described above. This is discriminatory, no?

I told Mike this over on his blog, but I occasionally see bus drivers ask people to leave if they've ridden to the end of a run/beginning of a new run. It seems very random to me, but I'm going to start looking more closely at it when I see it--I haven't noticed if it's some drivers doing it, or drivers doing it just to poor, possibly homeless people.

Mike Doyle,

If you are truly so concerned about the homeless, have you volunteered any of your time towards a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? Make the changes you want within yourself first.

The problem of homeless people on trains is symptom and not the problem. Many of these people won't go to shelters because they are dangerous. I don't pretend to know enough about homeless issues to expound further, but the problem is not the CTA here. They are dealing with the symptom of a bigger epidemic.

As for my opinion, I believe that you won't see this enforced much since it was already a rule, but it exists in case they need a rule to enforce if they do oust anyone from the trains. I personally believe that many people do not ride the trains because of these homeless people, especially late at night when their numbers are higher.


And I assume we'll be hearing Jake's opinions on poor people soon as well...

Isn't the fare for the third transfer free? This could be hard to enforce if leaving the terminal and going back in with your card resulted in $0 deducted -- it's hard to prosecute someone for stealing $0. The worst case will be someone stealing 25 cents.

Anyway, that sign probably cost more than this rule will ever save. But hey, at least there's one more thing you can get arrested for if the cops don't like you...

[If you are truly so concerned about the homeless, have you volunteered any of your time towards a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? Make the changes you want within yourself first.]

What kind of logic is this? If you don't know a person's entire history of volunteer work, they can't advocate for the homeless?

[But hey, at least there's one more thing you can get arrested for if the cops don't like you...]

I think I agree with this sentiment. I have no problem with the rule as long as it's enforced fairly and consistently.

But it's hard to see that ever happening, for all the reasons listed in this thread, and so in practice it will most likely be enforced very selectively and thus inherently unjustly.

Well, at the risk of being branded heartless, cruel, unkind, uncharitable, etc, does anyone really think that the homeless are unaware of at least some of the options available to them?

Again, I'm all for helping out those less fortunate, but only if they want to be helped.

Perfect example. A couple weeks ago I had stopped at Clark/Halsted to see if there was anything worth buying at the Linens and things going out of business sale.

I was in the common area by the doors doing my favorite waiting for the 22 Clark vigil, and there panhandler/beggar/your favorite guy was asking for money to "get food". Nice young girl coming down the escalator from Marshalls had a to-go container that she offered to him. He refused and got all like, I don't want your food, I want money rant.

Some people don't want help and don't care that their actions cause problems for other people. That's one of the reasons why I have to ride in urine smelling cars, hobo corners that look like a rats nests and other fun urban adventures that we deal with on a daily commuting basis.

The CTA as Kevin pointed out, does often go beyond their mission to provide safe, clean, on-time transit and I for one applaud them for it. If they don't go beyond that, then hey that's cool too.

Mike, I respect your empathy and concern and efforts, but quite frankly, maybe you should put your efforts into actually helping out directly rather than trying to guilt the CTA into going beyond their mandated mission.

I look forward to seeing you out in the cold on platforms handing out cards. I'd welcome your feedback after you spend a couple months doing that and seeing the reception you get from the folks that you genuinely seem to want to help.


KevinB

I agree with strannix on both points.

Great post KevinB. You said what I was trying to say, but better.


"What kind of logic is this? If you don't know a person's entire history of volunteer work, they can't advocate for the homeless?"

Yes, that is correct. Because in some ways, they are a hypocrite. It's like someone who complains and does nothing to change things.

Chris, as a matter of fact, I have given my time to the homeless. My time as a communications strategist is valuable, both to me and my clients (as you might imagine, I need to eat and keep a roof over my own head, too).

However, I have now spent dozens of unpaid hours researching, writing about, and following up on this issue––while fending off a few unhappy clients in the process--to help make sure homeless CTA rider don't find themselves with no shelter in the middle of winter.

And I'll keep it up, too, until the CTA relents, at continued risk of my day-job income.

CTA exists to provide transportation. If someone is injured or becomes ill on a CTA vehicle, personnel contact 911 to dispatch those specifically trained to deal with medical emergencies. CTA personnel do not attempt to treat the individual themselves, nor should they. The same model should apply to social services. The partnership that CTA set up with Thresholds is an attempt to be compassionate in a targeted way that may actually help. Shelters and agencies have differing criteria for who can access their services. CTA personnel should not be put in the position of making referrals to shelters. Further, CTA vehicles and property should not be seen as a shelter of last resort. It would be unwise of CTA to do anything to make this option more appealing. Demonizing CTA because of a perceived unwillingness to deal directly with a larger social problem is not fair. Rather than rant about a perceived lack of compassion from CTA, a better use of energy would be to make some contribution to address the needs of the homeless directly.

Since you are a communications strategist, Mike, your "dozens of unpaid hours" might be put to better use volunteering in an adult literacy program. Outright illiteracy and functional literacy deficiencies are major underlying causes of homelessness.

Mike,

I commend you highly for the donation of your time towards such a worthy cause.

I think the point that many people here are trying to make is that these people are definitely deserving of shelter, but that the CTA should not be responsible for providing it. As I pointed out and others have, the CTA is not a problem, just dealing with a symptom.

[Yes, that is correct. Because in some ways, they are a hypocrite. It's like someone who complains and does nothing to change things.]

Bullshit.

First of all, you don't have the slightest idea how much time Doyle spends on volunteer work or other "direct" assistance on these matters. You're simply presuming that he doesn't spend any.

But secondly, even if he doesn't spend time volunteering in shelters, he's doing something. Advocacy is a necessary component of social justice, and homeless need public advocates, too. Regardless of how you feel about this policy or Doyle's opinion of it (I don't agree with everything he says, either), he's obviously produced a well informed piece of citizen journalism.

And thirdly, independent of Doyle altogether, ideas rise and fall based on their own merits, and not with the person putting them forth. Certainly the issue here exists regardless of who volunteers for what; we're still faced with a policy that will (apparently) be enforced in some way, and the merits of that policy are in no way impacted by what Doyle does or doesn't do.

I don't see how hypocrisy is an issue here either way.

I think the main problem here is not that the CTA plans to enforce a rule like this, but they have stated themselves that the rule will not be enforced universally.

On Mike Doyle's blog, he posted the answers the CTA gave to his questions. The CTA stated that CTA employees will be given the freedom to decide when to enforce the rule, and when not to. This is thinly veiled discrimination and profiling. THAT is the problem here.

As someone who works for a transit agency, I can attest to the fact that (1) having people loitering on vehicles does reduce capacity for other people who wish to use those vehicles to actually go somewhere and (2) having too many undesirables (however that is defined) on a vehicle decreases ridership and reduces revenue.

I worked for an agency that were to an entirely fare-free policy in the early 2000’s, and the homeless would ride the buses all day long. This diminished the quality and quantity of seats available to those who actually needed the service to do its primary function: moving people from A to B. Consequently, a similar policy of “no consecutive rides” was implemented. No one has the exclusive right to occupy public property for as long as he/she wants, especially when others are waiting to use it.

If the public wants to use CTA vehicles as ‘mobile shelters’ during part or all of the winter months, it will have to also get used to more fare-paying passengers being passed up by overcrowded vehicles and/or higher fares to justify increasing the number of vehicles on the line.

This reminds me very clearly of a couple years ago when the CTA said that it planned to start stictly enforcing the "no sleeping" rule, which many people rightly scoffed at. Going back to Tattler Kevin's original point, this (like the no sleeping rule) is an attempt by the CTA to get rid of people who sleep on the trains and buses all night, dirtying them and using them as restrooms. In order to withstand legal challenges, however, the CTA has to couch this rule in language so broad, that it leaves us wondering if anyone who ever dozes off or changes from one side of the platform to the other is going to get fined, arrested, whatever. Of course it doesn't, but the rule has to be in place before they ask or force someone to get off the bus or train.

To clear up a couple points about the homeless, however, having worked with them for most of my life, I can say with conviction that most homeless people stay away from shelters except in the bitter cold because:

1. Someone who falls asleep in a shelter will almost certainly get robbed by his/her peers, and so has to stay awake all night long to protect what little they have (and some of those get beaten and robbed, anyway). Riding the red or blue line all night gives you the chance to actually sleep.
2. Almost all shelters require sobriety, and unfortunately most addictive substances can overpower the survivial instinct by suppressing appetite, hence the begging for money for food, but refusing food. They'll eat, but only after they've raised enough cash to do something about the withdrawal symptoms (i.e. the ones that do refuse food are probably addicts and/or drunks).

Folks who are down on their luck and have lost everything are the ones who will take advantage of whatever programs the welfare system has put in place to help the homeless get back on their feet. The majority of the homeless, though, simply aren't mentally capable of running the rat race, and never were nor will they ever be. There will always be lots of homeless people. The only question then is whether we kick them off the CTA and send them elsewhere, or we make it so that that same 'elsewhere' is a more attractive option than sleeping on the train all night.

"Bullshit.

First of all, you don't have the slightest idea how much time Doyle spends on volunteer work or other "direct" assistance on these matters. You're simply presuming that he doesn't spend any.

But secondly, even if he doesn't spend time volunteering in shelters, he's doing something. Advocacy is a necessary component of social justice, and homeless need public advocates, too. Regardless of how you feel about this policy or Doyle's opinion of it (I don't agree with everything he says, either), he's obviously produced a well informed piece of citizen journalism.

And thirdly, independent of Doyle altogether, ideas rise and fall based on their own merits, and not with the person putting them forth. Certainly the issue here exists regardless of who volunteers for what; we're still faced with a policy that will (apparently) be enforced in some way, and the merits of that policy are in no way impacted by what Doyle does or doesn't do.

I don't see how hypocrisy is an issue here either way."

Actually, I do know how much time he volunteers, since he just told me. Secondly, I didn't assume that he didn't volunteer. I asked Mike a question and you assumed that I made an inference that he did not. That's your misunderstanding, not mine.

After finding out that he does, I commend him on his volunteer work. I also respect his journalism and the research that goes along with it. However, I respectfully think he's barking up the wrong tree and attacking the symptom, not the problem.

As for hypocrisy, there obviously is not any here, since he volunteers.

Dave: What system did you work for?

@chris, who said: "If you are truly so concerned about the homeless, have you volunteered any of your time towards a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? Make the changes you want within yourself first."

People "volunteer" in different ways. Mike has devoted a great deal of time and energy to raising awareness of homeless/poverty issues. I think that qualifies as volunteerism; those without voices (read: people with no influence) need all the support they can get, even if that means the voice of someone who obviously does have influence.

On the same subject, others may not volunteer their limited time, but will donate money instead. Who do you think pays for the soup kitchens and the homeless shelters? Hint: It's not the government, at least not enough to solve the problem.

You don't have to spend time in a soup kitchen to help the homeless or the needy.

It's silly that the CTA has to post these signs to provide some ostensible basis to remove vagrants from CTA trains. They ought to be able to do it for any reason or no reason. The CTA is not a homeless shelter, period.

@chris, who said: "If you are truly so concerned about the homeless, have you volunteered any of your time towards a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? Make the changes you want within yourself first."

People "volunteer" in different ways. Mike has devoted a great deal of time and energy to raising awareness of homeless/poverty issues. I think that qualifies as volunteerism; those without voices (read: people with no influence) need all the support they can get, even if that means the voice of someone who obviously does have influence.

On the same subject, others may not volunteer their limited time, but will donate money instead. Who do you think pays for the soup kitchens and the homeless shelters? Hint: It's not the government, at least not enough to solve the problem.

You don't have to spend time in a soup kitchen to help the homeless or the needy.

Apologies for the double post; something weird happened with my browser when I used the preview function.

Oh, brother -- sitting in your house and writing in your blog about what other people should do to help the homeless is somehow equal with, you know, actually helping them? If Mike's so worried about homeless people having 24-hour access to a warm place where they can sleep and urinate for the low, low price of $2, maybe he should just invite them back to his place..

Charles,

I agree that volunteer work can be done in many ways and often is done through charitable contribution. Thanks for pointing that out.

Writing on a blog is not volunteer work, no matter how you want to spin it. He performed an interview and then provided his thoughts on the CTA responses. He only raised awareness on 1 issue, that the CTA passed a law to evict homeless people from endlessly riding the trains. That's it. And in my opinion(and seemingly many others on here), he's going about fixing the problem in the wrong way.

Chris & Joe Blow –

If you actually read his blog (if you haven't already), you'll see that Mike's done significantly more than simply write on his blog. He's appeared on at least two radio shows and written on at least one news site about this issue. He brought the matter to the attention of both local and national homeless agencies. And because of his coverage, even NBC5 picked it up.

Now, I'm no Mike Doyle apologist (no offense intended, Mike); he's far more liberal than this Southerner-cum-Chicagoan. I don't agree with his entire position on this issue (or a lot of issues), as I pointed out in a lengthy comment on his original post. But I do believe he's done a significant service to this issue.

As an aside, he's also covered other issues dealing with poverty. He played a significant role in bringing attention to the minimum wage issue, even conducting an interview that became a significant part of the national campaign to raise the minimum wage a couple of years ago.

All of this to say, he's not simply a blogger who sits at home blurting out his opinions all day. He's used his skills as a public relations expert to become a voice for the less fortunate – a role that I think he's well-suited to and should continue to pursue with passion.

[I asked Mike a question and you assumed that I made an inference that he did not. That's your misunderstanding, not mine.]

Please, if you want to sell this line, you need to find a buyer dumber than me. The formulation of "If you're so concerned with X, then why don't you do Y" is designed to put someone on the defensive, by challenging them to prove that they fit your own narrow definition of "true concern" is. Therefore, it carries with it the implication that the person is in fact not doing Y - after all, they haven't yet proven that they "truly" care. This is especially true when you follow up the question with an admission that he needed to prove he wasn't a hypocrite.

I know it, and you know it, and everyone with any cognitive function knows it. I'm glad you're gracious enough to admit that Doyle passed your hypocrisy test, but obviously he only needed to do so because you doubted him in the first place.

Chris, the right way and wrong way to fix a social-justice problem are debatable. But rarely is one attended to by the powers that be without public scrutiny being brought to bear--especially in this town.

Now I can't tell you why I'm fortunate enough to have a wide and interested readership on my blog, but that fact remains that I do––including a lot of me major media reporters––and I am grateful for it. (It isn't as if I asked Huffington Post Chicago for a byline, they came to me and asked based on the strength of my blog).

I've done a lot of navel-gazing on there, and will probably do a lot more in the future. But it would be irresponsible of me to ignore and share with my readers issues that I personally feel are important ones and still call myself a happy, compassionate, adopted Chicagoan in love with this city and the people (like me) who choose call this place home.

The things I have done here to get this issue in front of the public are the exact same things nonprofits and fellow colleagues pay me money to do to get them and their issues noticed. I've used every ounce of my communications savvy, identified and created messages, explored the story from different angles, sought the assistance of and leveraged independent voices and opinions leaders, and identified and reached out to a focussed press list of local and national reporters, both traditional and online.

If that sounds like a lot of work, I assure you, it was and continues to be. You can decide for yourself whether that equals advocacy or anything else useful. However, your opinion will not dissuade me from continuing to try and get this policy changed.

Of course, in my zeal to respond to Chris, I addressed my above comment to Charles McPhate. I did intend to do so. Sorry Charles. Chris, the above is in response to your comment of 3:04 p.m. I'd appreciate it if the editors could edit my response to reflect the intended addressee. Thanks!

He only raised awareness on 1 issue...

You'd be surprised how many people don't even make that IMPORTANT first step. I mean, you're here spending a lot of time and typing effort talking about it, and I dare say it's mostly due to Mike Doyle writing about it on his blog, which was picked up by other blogs, which was talked about various radio show, which was written about on this blog which is where you come in. Alluding that he hasn't "done anything" is kinda ironic considering he's gotten you to write five posts on the matter beginning at 10:35 this morning...

Right on, Dude!

(Always wanted to say that... :o)

This won't be enforced at all. Not in this city.

Again, it's easy to comment from the nice warm comfy computer chair via blog on the ills of the world,everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame and it just amazes me how one minute you're alone in the woods and later people are quoting your blog and getting mention in the papers and other blogs. I'm sure there is some sort of name for this...I like the andywarhol effect myself.

I'll really be impressed when I see Mike out on the platform at the Howard st station handing out cards to point folks to the social services for a month or so.

I'll look forward to his report when he does that. Otherwise, it's armchair quarterback situation....

KevinB

It'll be enforced sporadically. I once witnessed a bus driver tell someone to put that sandwich away, there was a rule prohibiting eating and drinking on CTA vehicles. That was a couple of years ago. I've never witnessed anything like that again.

I was a little ticked when I got off a southbound purple line at howard, switched platforms, then seeing me on the other side he yelled over, "hey you just got off this train, where you going?" I refrained from yelling "skokie, a******!" but simply pointed to the approaching yellow line train and gave him a mean look.

That being said, I am glad they are trying to crack down on the problems that the homeless do cause normal one way fare paying customers. I'm not trying to be insensitive, I hope they can arrange for helping them, but it's hard to ignore.

The CTA is fighting a losing battle on this one. As the economy tightens we're going to see even more homeless people riding the El and trying to stay warm. And since Thresholds and other programs rely on public funding and donations, both of which tend to go down in tough times, their ability to help will be even more limited.

KevinB would be the one to know about armchair quarterbacking.

>>Chris, the right way and wrong way to fix a >social-justice problem are debatable. But >rarely is one attended to by the powers that >be without public scrutiny being brought to >bear--especially in this town.

The important question is: what is the "way to fix a social justice problem" that is going to make the most difference for those who need help? Directly volunteering in a facility that serves the homeless is going to make a much greater impact in the daily lives of those you purport to help than is focusing attention on CTA's signs, no matter how many blogs you post to. In the span of three hours' volunteering in a soup kitchen you can touch the lives of many people. While it's obvious you care about this issue, Mike, you'll never know how your efforts might have a direct impact on the well-being of the homeless. Given the well-documented intractability of the CTA PR machine, your efforts may be damn near futile. Of course, they have, as you pointed out, brought you a lot of attention.

"He only raised awareness on 1 issue...

You'd be surprised how many people don't even make that IMPORTANT first step. I mean, you're here spending a lot of time and typing effort talking about it, and I dare say it's mostly due to Mike Doyle writing about it on his blog, which was picked up by other blogs, which was talked about various radio show, which was written about on this blog which is where you come in. Alluding that he hasn't "done anything" is kinda ironic considering he's gotten you to write five posts on the matter beginning at 10:35 this morning..."

I hardly consider arguing/posting on the internet "doing something" about a social justice issue. Like I said, he raised awareness as well as debate. That is valiant, but you're still only trying to get the CTA to put a band-aid on the real issue.

>I don't see how hypocrisy is an issue here either way.

Doyle and others are essentially saying that no government agency can act without holding the interests of the homeless primary, or near the top of their priorities, even an agency like CTA, for which I'd think 99% of the citizenry think helping the homeless is either not a part of its mission, or a very distant priority.

This is a maximalist claim, and it does indeed seem hypocritical to me for someone to make such a claim, and then not be doing everything they themselves can do for the homeless on other fronts.

I also want to point out to whoever it was that posted about the incident at Linens and Things that there is no particular reason to think someone begging at Linens and Things is homeless. Many homeless beg. Some do not. Many people with no options beg. But others also do it as more or less a living. I'm not entirely heartless. I give directly sometimes, and I donate to the Homeless Coalition and to the Chicago Food Depository. But being naive isn't a pre-requisite for being charitable.

My point about the linens and things incident was that some people don't want the help thats available.

On the other hand, I was at a jewel the other night and a guy asked for money, I said "don't carry it" and he said, "then how about picking me up a microwave meal"...I thought about it and you know, I ended up picking up ten of them for him.

Same thing when it comes to riding the rails vs the CTA giving people the cards with social service information at the stations. If people really don't want the help you can give them, does it really help them and impacts our ride?

KevinB

Since when was it a "rule" to exit the station and pay another fare at the terminals?! As I remember, the announcement says you have to exit the TRAIN, not the station.

Anyways, this is no different than any anti-deviant law enforcement (such as loitering). The law is there so that they can use it at their leisure to displace folks that others don't want there (aka, homeless). When was the last time you saw a tidy business man asked to leave the premises because he was "loitering"? I gurantee if I rode circles around the Loop in the train I never would be given a second glance. I think that's absolutely hogwash that "[the CTA] shouldn't allow anyone to ride continuously for free."

I doubt that many homeless people ride continuously around the loop. One would have to transfer between the Orange and Pink Lines ever few minutes and wouldn't be able to sleep without risking exiting the loop.

I will readily stipulate that there is plenty of illogic in the no-unlimited-rides rule and its enforcement.

But on the larger question of being plagued by vagrants, I would say:

1) I think the discussion has shown that these individuals' problems are complex and very difficult to fix, even with all the good will and resources in the world. So it is not fair to make their plight the fault of CTA passengers. (And as others have said, how do you know that we don't give to those less fortunate anyway?)

2) I can't accept that problem individuals have a right to pre-empt and mess up transit facilities that somehow supersedes regular passengers' right to use them as intended.

"I hardly consider arguing/posting on the internet "doing something" about a social justice issue. Like I said, he raised awareness as well as debate."

Well, that's where we differ. "Raising awareness", to me, is an important component of "doing something", even if it comes just on an internet message board.

Think AIDS...(and no, this is not comparing the fight against AIDS to a homeless guy riding the train. This is about "raising awareness".)

I agree with all the above posters who find the policy justifiable, and like many other posters, I sympathize with the general plight of the homeless but I think Mike Doyle is barking up the wrong tree here -- this simply isn't CTA's responsibility.

Furthermore, I don't think the policy has any danger of being struck down legally -- Mike's coverage may make it politically untenable, but Mike's characterization of it being a "discriminatory" policy, doesn't make it *illegal.*

The CTA is not *denying* citizens access to the CTA because they are homeless. The CTA is saying that citizens cannot ride the CTA all day for one fare.

This is quite a different animal to other cases where the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless succeeded in finding certain discriminatory practices against the homeless illegal (see http://www.chicagohomeless.org/what/legal/discrimination) -- those practices were facially discrimatory and violated fair housing laws.

Here, there is no law barring a homeless person with a valid fare from getting on a train or bus. They just cannot stay on the bus or train all day for that one fare -- and neither can anyone else. Furthermore the CTA has, to my knowledge, NO OBLIGATION to allow ANYONE to spend all day riding the CTA. The CTA provides a service to move people from one place to another; it is not a moving library or hotel, and the CTA is within its rights to pass regulations to enable it to achieve that mission.

Even if the policy "as applied" discriminated against the homeless, "homeless" from a general equal rights perspective is not a protected class like race, gender, age or disability. If the CTA can justify the rule under Constitutional standards - and here, they have multiple rational reasons - such discrimination would likely be permitted.

Eric

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