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What motormen are supposed to do during emergency outages

After the two incidents in the last week where power was cut to trains, I asked a CTA spokesman what the protocol is for train motormen to make announcements.

First, Noelle Gaffney reports that there is auxiliary power "for a little while" after the main power is cut. She couldn't be more specific on how long it lasts. The motorman is instructed to use the auxiliary power to inform passengers about what is going on, and tell them as much as he knows.

When the auxiliary power shuts down, the motorman is supposed to move from car to car to make announcements.

The day after any such incident, CTA managers get together for a "post-mortem" to talk about what happened, how it was handled, what was learned, and what could be done better in the future.

Late Monday, I had my final interview with Ron Huberman. I pressed him on the question about what the CTA is doing to improve communications with passengers on all levels. He put me off, saying he was planning a press conference for Tuesday afternoon where he would address that issue, among other things.

So stay tuned for that.


Ms. Gaffney is assuming the motorman knows what is causing the power outage in the first few minutes of the event. I find that hard to believe unless it's happening right in front of that particular train.

The motorman doesn't "turn on" the auxiliary power. I'm not an expert on CTA rolling stock by any means, but in most cases (trains, buildings, whatever), auxiliary power kicks on when the primary power source is lost. On the rare occasions when it's happened to me, the train either coasted past the outage or stopped and only the lights over the doors and the PA remained on.

On a side note, I actually saw Ron Huberman on the Purple Line this morning. Nice to know he actually rides the trains!

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