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Some sound solutions to CTA communications problems

Frequent contributor "chgocutie" Tim makes some great points about CTA communications problems in a letter he sent to the CTA's board, VP of Transit Operations, Board Chair Carole Brown, and Mayor Daley. Excerpts from that letter:

"My second point is communication between the control center and customer. On too many different occasions to count, CTA has "dropped the ball" on alerting passengers as to problems, situations, or disruptions in service. Most times passengers have no clue that they are in the midst of a situation that could very well be life or death. A good example would be this morning on the Red Line during the rail fire that occurred.

"A group called "CTA Alerts" that I subscribe to didn't receive an alert from transit headquarters until 11:05AM, which was approximately 95 minutes after the start of the mishap. For those individuals that are making preparations to come into the city (as I was at that particular time), 95 minutes is entirely too long. If there is a delay, whether it be 10 minutes or 3 hours, the public should be made aware of that immediately.

"Again, I point to Metro in DC. Not only do they have an in-house text notification system, they also use "text crawlers" on their website (http://www.metroopensdoors.com or http://www.wmata.com) to show any delays that might be happening in real time. With this information shared with the public as the event is unfolding, it can help passengers decide whether or not to take the Red Line or to take alternative transportation."

"In my experience as a fire warden, in the event of an emergency such as this, while it is true that sheltering in place works for most high rise buildings, it does not typically work for subway tunnels. Those individuals should not have been forced to wait upwards of three hours before beginning a "chaotic" evacuation, as it has been called. They should have been evacuated after 30 minutes at the absolute most.

"This should be another lesson learned for the CTA to go back and retrain all emergency responders on how to properly respond to an emergency situation, by first assessing the situation, removing any passengers that may be in the way, and finally attacking the situation. Evidence shows that this was not done on today, and the CTA needs to quickly ensure that this does not happen again."

Well said, Tim.

The next CTA board meeting is at 3 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at CTA headquarters, Lake and Clinton. We need to speak up.


This seems like one of many instances in which CTA could learn from the best practices used by other transit authorities. However, the insular political hacks won't do it.

Isn't is amazing that the CTA is letting maintenance run down on the red line in order to indirectly politically pressure the General Assembly into funding more dollars? Are you a rider..wondering why the red line is crumbling? No maintenance on the tracks or the concrete structure.
Other item....The Olympics. The city is betting on the Olympics as political pressure on the state for more funding. who wants the world to ride Chicago transit and miss an Olympics event because your power is cut to the subway due to a train derailing?

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