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.