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Catching up: No-no to NABI and safety concerns

I've been in New Orleans at the Jazz Festival for the last four days, and certainly missed a boatload of CTA news. So for the record, we're catching up on it today.

But first let me say that traveling by New Orleans trolley to the festivals grounds sure seems like the way to go. The cars are old and rickety, the windows are all open and people are practically hanging out with every limb.

But of course, if we had such a transit mode in Chicago, it would be vilified.

NABI buses - return to sender: it should come as no surprise that the CTA has determined the 225 60-foot articulated buses it had pulled from the road in February are unsafe for the road. The CTA already had been embroiled in a lawsuit with North American Bus Industries. (Chicagobus.org has some of the details on the issue here.) Now we'll have to see how this latest chapter in the saga plays out.

Crime jumps up on trains, buses: The Sun-Times reported last week that robberies increased by 77% on the CTA, when comparing 2008 with 2006.  The cops blames riders with iPods and laptops are not paying attention to what's happening around them. The cops have been harder at work in arrests. "Police made 4,933 arrests on the system last year, compared with 4,576 in 2007."

The CTA says there were more riders in 2008. And the police point out that there are still fewer crimes per capita on the CTA than in Chicago in general.

Regardless, it's still all a bit unnerving. 

Plastic shields for bus drivers. And speaking of transit safety, the CTA recently has equipped about a quarter of it buses with heavy plastic shields to protect bus drivers from unruly passengers, according to a Tribune column. Some drivers are not that happy about losing the close contact with riders. While some others like the fact that the barriers block the cold air - and passenger germs.



Another fantastic CTA response. Apparently, nobody knew what to do as the car filled with smoke. Excellent

"The cops blames riders with iPods and laptops are not paying attention to what's happening around them."

While this is a good point, I think another is that there is no police presence on the CTA at all. I've lived here 11 years and I've seen uniformed CPD on the train maybe fifteen times. I am not blaming the individual police ... just this policy that deploys them as responders once you've already been robbed or assaulted.

I've seen some close calls on the train over the years. Recently I was on a train with about five other people and four teenagers entered our car (through the emergency doors of course). They stood next to a teenage girl and stared her down, literally screwing her with their eyes. "Man, she's pretty," one guy said to his friends. "She's preeeeeeety." Luckily she exited at my stop and they stayed on the train. For a few seconds it was scary and disgusting. I was also on a delayed train once and one guy told his friend he was going to start shooting people on the train if it didn't start moving soon. That was fun.

One thing I've learned is that you really are sort of held hostage with your fellow passengers. Odds are slim that the mysterious, often-mentioned "undercover officer" will come to your aid.

I like to think I pay attention to my surroundings on transit, but I was reading and missed my stop last night.

Yup, just another case of the emergency doors being used for no good...

I would just like to say that there are undercover police working the trains. I once received a $100 ticket for drinking a open beer on the red line at Argle. The cop was dressed as a bum and I was shocked when he pulled out his badge.

The convenient thing about assigning undercover police on the train is that you can say "there are undercover police on the train" and no one can disprove it. How many are there? I understand the value of undercover police officers, but I still think a uniformed CPD presence (not Securitas) would make the CTA safer.

I'm glad the CPD are cracking down on dangerous open-container offenders. Yikes. The CTA needs SOME sort of uniformed personnel patrolling it - MBTA, MTA, all have transit police, and not just patrol cars you see driving around nowhere near L stops. It's great if these elusive plainclothes cops arrest someone who tries to jump me - it's better if the person is deterred from trying in the first place.

Also, in NYC the doors between cars are LOCKED. I still don't understand the crossing-through thing.

The C.T.A. should remind police officers that they can ride for free.


I agree that the doors between cars should be locked.

I'm not sure why you think open-container offenders are dangerous...

I love that. "Anyone who uses the door between cars is obviously a criminal. Anyone drinking alcohol obviously is just peachy."

It's all a matter of how good the offender is at concealing the drinking and the drunkeness. Not that I would have any primary source data on that.... :D

open container thing was just sarcasm. and the doors between cars thing just baffles me, i can't say i've seen anyone doing it to commit a crime or flee from one, but what's the point?

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