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CTA rail safety questioned in RTA study

In a safety review of the CTA's rail system commissioned by the Regional Transportation Authority, the CTA's new oversight agency takes it to task on a number of fronts.

The Trib's Jon Hilkevitch reports in his "Getting Around" column this week:

"CTA trains are safe enough to ride, but many upgrades are necessary and should not be postponed, the RTA concluded in evaluating 14 key areas.

"The CTA is doing a poor job of identifying hazardous conditions leading to rail accidents, and the agency should be "more rigorous" in taking corrective action, the audit said."

The RTA's safety audit also found that the CTA's emergency-response drills were insufficient and called construction safety measures on the Brown Line rehab project insufficient.

CTA President Ron Huberman said last week that the CTA is taking corrective actions in many areas in response to the RTA's findings.

The Trib had a great graphic detailing the "charges" and the CTA's response. Check it out below.

Trib_grafik_2

Comments

So I wonder when the first accident caused by health issues from one of those drivers that don't have a medical exam will happen and how much more than 1.6 million it will cost? This seems to be the equivalent of stopping physical exams for pilots because it costs too much....

KevinB

The Trib graphic left out the one bout making up longer trains out of short trains at the platforms at the end of the line.
I see this at Linden on those days I get there around 3PM, when the 2 car shuttles are combined into 6 car express trains.

The CTA should be ashamed. What could be more important than safety? What a disgrace!

What solutions do you suggest for the CTA, Marc? It's way too easy to say "shame on you", but far harder to come up with sustainable solutions to the issue of passenger safety. I get that passenger safety is of the utmost importance, and I will not debate you on that.

However, I am saying "shame, shame", really doesn't make solutions come any easier. I believe that the kinds of improvements needed (renewal/shoring up of the elevated system, continued replacement of aging rails/rail ties) are needed, but won't happen without the necessary capital funding. The CTA is working on a shoestring right now, and I believe (perhaps naively) that they are doing the best they can.

Besides, you're far safer on the CTA than you are in any passenger car. Consider that you hear about a CTA accident about once every 3 months, but you hear about a deadly car accident at least once a day (I have no idea of actual numbers, so I'm just using that as hypothetical). So to say "shame, shame", without really thinking it through is counterproductive, to say the least.

"However, I am saying 'shame, shame', really doesn't make solutions come any easier. ... So to say 'shame, shame', without really thinking it through is counterproductive, to say the least."

Because the CTA gets and implements solutions for rail safety from comments on a blog. (And this quote is coming from someone who feels the need to cite traffic safety statistics but can't be bothered to quickly Google for them.)

I was on a Yellow line train last week that had just left the Skokie Swift station when the operator starting giving announcements about extending Yellow line service during the Taste of Chicago, fourth of July, etc. which I thought was a great idea except that the train was moving. I happened to be sitting in the seat next to the cab area and I couldn't help but notice that if you're talking into the train microphone you're facing into the side of the train and you can't see what's in front of the train - or least it appears that way. Not the most safe of situations....

Let's not forget something I see more and and more of on the CTA buses lately, which is the driver texting, talking on a phone with a Bluetooth headset or using a phone while driving...considering that it's a flagrant violation of CTA policy.

KevinB

Report it , Kevin. Quit whining and report it.

Fred:

Already done.

I was wondering though if I'm the only one seeing this and since it is a safety issue and is relevant to the topic.

I really don't see that I'm whining....really if I whine there definitely won't be any doubt though...

KevinB

I've only seen one bus driver talking on his phone, Kev. And yeah, I sat there on his bus and called the CTA to report him.

I was on a Michigan Ave. bus in very heavy traffic near the Taste yesterday afternoon. At every stoplight or when the traffic stopped, the driver would pick up a big container of what appeared to be yogurt and eat. The scary part was when traffic started to move the driver would hold the steering wheel with a knee and start moving the bus. THEN, put down the yogurt and get the hands on the wheel to continue driving! Nothing like moving a half block with a knee steering the bus in heavy traffic. Scary.

I was also once on a Northbound 151 bus that missed the right turn from West Sheridan onto North Sheridan at that stop sign where Sheffield runs into North Sheridan. The driver was FLYING and make a hard right turn onto Kenmore, which is a very narrow one lane street. The bus jumped the curb and a TREE limb punched out a side window which then fell into the aisle. People screamed. It was unbelivably lucky nobody was sitting in the seats next to the window that got punched off its frame.

This RTA audit didn't come out of the blue.

The NTSB investigation report into the Blue Line subway derailment and fire pointed out that the RTA had the responsibility to oversee the CTA's safety program, and had commissioned a consultant's report. The RTA noted the consultant's favorable bullet point findings, but ignored the unfavorable observations that followed them, such as that there was a lack of equipment or uniform inspector training, and hence the CTA did nothing to prevent that accident, and the RTA accepted that.

http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2007/RAR0702.pdf (starting at about page 29).

Now, having been rebuked by the feds, the RTA, after commissioning another such study, maybe this time is exercising some oversight. We'll have to wait and see whether there are results.

KevinB: I have seen drivers using cell phones on Lake Shore Drive Express routes about 4 times in the last 3 months. How hard is it to turn off your cell phone while driving? Don't all the bus drivers have breaks several times a day in which to make phone calls?

I also like it when the bus drivers' friends ride and stand next to them chatting while the bus driver is driving a route. I've also seen the driver's friend blatantly eating fried chicken while talking to the driver.

I hope you guys report it when you see drivers doing that. It's completely unacceptable, and obviously a major safety hazard both for riders and everyone else on the road.

And yes, this from one of the CTA "fanboy" apologists, but I'll play my part and say that I don't entirely blame the supervision/management because they are spread so thin they can't see everything all the time to maintain control of this sort of stuff. So riders reporting it becomes critical.

Whare may I purchace the complete text of the RTA Study?

I would love to have a copy of that RTA Study! Can I order it by Mail from the RTA? how much is it?

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