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CTA response deflects responsibilities of management

On Sunday, I posted the CTA response to my open letter on communication problems during CTA outages, particularly as witnessed Oct. 3 during the morning rush following a work train derailment. This is my response to their reply.

First, it's good to know that my "concern is being taken very seriously," and that "President Kruesi made direct and forceful reference to your letter and the comments on your Web site at last week's meeting of his top staff." The top brass should be listening to us.

Unfortunately, after admitting that communications problems are a big concern in his reply to me, Terry Levin never actually says what steps the CTA is taking to solve the problem. Instead, the CTA's vice president for customer service explains how hard it is to "determine if a delay will be relatively brief or not" and asks us riders to essentially rat out employees we feel aren't doing their job.

OK, fine. We can and should do that.

But in the case of the Oct. 3 derailment, I'm convinced that most employees were trying to do their job (as shown in many of the comments on that post), but they didn't have all the information necessary to serve riders.

And the question for the top brass is WHY?

After all, subscribers to our CTA wireless alerts got a total of five alerts about the situation that day from CTA headquarters.

And it was all excellent, useful information, such as: "No Brown Line trains between Southport and Fullerton. Bus shuttle between stations. Shuttle train Fullerton to Loop" at 4:40 am; and "Due to work equipment derailment, Purple Line trains end at Howard. Transfer to Red Line trains to continue southbound" at 7:10 am.

Makes me wonder: Did CTA workers get that same information communicated to them in the same succinct fashion? Maybe the CTA should equip workers with wireless devices to receive these same messages that we get.

So again I ask you President Kruesi, what steps are you taking to make sure your employees have the information they need to pass on to riders, and to make sure they are communicating that information?

I certainly will acknowledge that the CTA is investing in fiber optic technology to enhance communications systems at rail line stations. 

But all the best technology in the world won't amount to a hill of beans if the communicators don't get the information to be communicated.


Train conductors have this walkie-talkie looking thing that they talk into to get in touch with dispatch in case of a problem...why can't their be one at the train station so the attendant can get messages from dispatch about important information? Very inexpensive but effective technology. They get daily information about elevators that are out of service and post them, so why not info about delays.

Also, I've notice after a major event (like the derailment a few weeks back), the next day they have a flyer in pretty orange or green paper that reads "sorry for yesterday's delay and any inconvience it may have caused you.....". Well that really helps out in the emergency.......

...equip workers with wireless devices...?

I whole heartely agree, except for 1 thing - they already have. Every rail operator, bus operator, track worker, customer assistant, supervisor, etc. carries a very expensive Motorola Radio for exactly that reason...

There is no excuse for not getting the word out to the field.

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