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Why you shouldn't "self-evacuate" from a CTA train

An incident Saturday night provides more good reasons why you shouldn't "self-evacuate" from a stuck train -- that is, leave the train without instructions to do so from the operator.

Power was shut off on the Red Line from 13th to 27th streets on the South Side at about 9 pm after a potential "jumper" was observed on the CTA viaduct over Archer Avenue, the Tribune reports.

After about 45 minutes, the would-be jumper was removed from the track and the CTA was ready to restore power. However, by that time, passengers on the trains started "self-evacuating" and power could not be restored until the track area was cleared.

That took about another 75 minutes, and before it was all over, 16 people had to be hospitalized with complaints of shortness of breath, dizziness and the like.

A CTA spokeswoman says operators were told to open all doors and windows to help alleviate the stuffiness in trains without air conditioning. But apparently that wasn't enough for some passengers, and they exited the train cars, thus exacerbating a problem that was almost resolved.

Really, I do understand the desire to take matters into your own hands and just leave the train. But this was a case where doing so apparently only made matters worse.

Comments

Ah, but do we know for sure that any useful messages were even relayed to the passengers, or were they left to make their own decisions about what to do? I was in the red line car in the '90's that (basically) caught fire and filled with smoke. The train stopped but we received NO instructions from the operator, and we weren't going to remain in a smike-filled car, so we self-evacuated. Good thing we did or even MORE people would have suffered from smoke inhalation. Let's get the details first, and see if the CTA lived up to their end of the bargain to provide useful help to the passengers before we criticize the actions of people in a difficult situation.

I was watching the news about this, & from what the passengers said, they really didn't get any information--no announcements. One woman said the single announcement she heard said it would just a be few minutes (not even close to 45, I would say). But the doors opening would explain why someone said a woman in her car fell out. Which suggests to me that there were no announcements & there's always some...person...too close to the door, even when it isn't crowded.
Certainly isn't the CTA's fault that some yahoo decided to try & commit suicide on the tracks.

Do people have to die doing this crap before the CTA brings back conductors, at least on subway routes? This is insane.

I've been on the CTA in an emergency. There is rarely any useful announcement on the train. (There are sometimes useful announcements in the station, that you can't hear, especially if you're already on the train but often even if you're on the platform.) There are exceptional motormen who do a fantastic job of entertaining and (when something goes wrong) informing. But they are the exception.

Saturday was a matter of safety of the public vs. the safety of an individual who chose to put himself in harm's way. CTA should have left the poswer on long enough to bring every train into a station for evacuation. If the guy electrocutes himself in the meantime, that's his problem. But there's no excuse for jeopardizing the health of hundreds for the insanity of one.

Were I on a Red Line train, waiting in the dark without information for 45 minutes, I would have walked out, too. I applaud those who take care of themselves.

Like Another Guest and Dee -- and based on accounts I've heard of such incidents as the July 3rd Loop power outage -- I'd be surprised to hear the CTA told anybody anything useful. I bet they just opened the doors without explanation.

Not sure what time it was, maybe between 10 and 10:30 Saturday night, but I was on an inbound Orange Line train planning on changing to the Red Line at Roosevelt. My train pulled in, and I did notice that the platform was pretty crowded, but just chalked it up to Taste of Chicago crowds in the South Loop. I got off the Orange Line, went down the stairs, proceed past the turnstiles (staying inside), and started on my way to the Red Line. Behind me, a CTA guy asked, "Sir, where I you going?"
"Red Line," I answered.
"What stop?"
"Uh, Sheridan."
"The Red Line's not running. You need to go back up the stairs and get on the Orange Line, then change to the Brown Line; take that to Belmont."
"Oh, thanks."
I went back up the stairs, and heard the CTA guy telling more people individually that they couldn't take the Red Line and had to go back upstairs. I got back on the same Orange Line train I had left, which stood another five minutes or so before leaving the station. The whole time there were no announcements about anything going on with the Red Line, and there were no CTA employees actually on the platform.
Since the Blue Line is a reasonable alternate route for me, I went to Clark/Lake and down to the Blue Line, where I immediately caught a train, but one that stood in the station for 25 minutes after I got on (which made it pretty crowded). Again, no information. (At the time I assumed whatever was wrong with the Red Line was also affecting the Blue Line.)

Kevin, when do you talk to Huberman again? I hope you plan on letting him know about the lack of communication again.

Huberman & She-Male Brown are colossal idiots, So consider the source.

I happened to be on the northbound train that faithful Saturday evening and all I have to say is that I would have been more than happy to have stayed on the train and wait for the cta
to guide me and my fellow passengers to safety, but WE WERE TRAPPED ON THAT FORSAKEN TRAIN FOR 40 MINUTES IN THE UNBEARABLE HEAT!!!!!! You don't keep people stuck on a train for that length of time under those conditions!!!!The only info we got from the motorman was that we would be moving in a few moments. No one knew , not even the CTA, how long it was going to take. By the way, once we were told to evacuate the train, the motorman said to follow him all the way to 22nd street...thats great, but there was an emergency exit JUST BEHIND OUR TRAIN!!!!!I just simply walked out of the car,using the ample ledge in the subway tunnel,and walked a few yards to safety. I would NOT trust the CTA with my safety!

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