News pickup: Another shot at curbing free senior rides; falls onto CTA tracks

We'll start the week with a roundup of CTA -- and Metra -- news items from the last week.

Another shot at cutting free senior rides. The state Senate is taking another stab at reducing free rides for seniors on the CTA and other transit agencies. The latest bill, which passed the full Senate unanimously, sets the income threshold for free rides at $41,415 for singles and $55,071 for couples. The RTA would save about $35 million under the plan, and the CTA an estimated $20 million. Every little bit helps. But don't get your hopes up too high. This is an election year, and Gov. Pat Quinn has already indicated he like the current plan with no income limits.

A week of track falls. Last week seemed like an especially busy one for passengers falling -- or flinging themselves -- onto CTA tracks. A person was critically injured Monday after falling onto the Green line tracks from a West Side platform.  Also Monday, a man was killed by a Blue Line train in an apparent suicide. And then Wednesday another person was hurt after a fall on the Green Line at Pulaski.  

Orange Line slow zone update. Since CTA Tattler first reported new Orange Line slow zones, the CTA has eased speed restrictions a bit. But the maximum speed is still 35 miles an hour on nearly half of the 10-mile run between the Loop and Midway. That's a reduction of about 30% since the CTA first reported signaling problems, according to the Tribune.

Twisted tale of Pagano suicide. I don't usually mention the Metra much here, but Friday's apparent suicide by Metra boss Philip Pagano certainly merits attention. And that's just what Pagano got, particularly with the horrific method -- standing in the path of an oncoming train.We'll never know the demons in Pagano's head at his time of death, but surely he knew the trauma it would cause the train engineer who struck him. It only serves to broaden the tragedy of the event.

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  • 1. I don't know if, like the rest of the Tribune, you are getting spammed.

    2. With the Free Senior Rides, the legislature is posturing. There was a fairly unanimous house bill, but the Tribune reported that Cullerton put Hendon ad hoc on a committee to kill it. Now the Senate supposedly voted unanimously to push it's bill that is different enough from the last one that it has to go to the House. This may be similar to the games played over the bill to reduce the votes needed to override Stroger's veto, except, suddenly, someone lifted her hold and to Madigan's chagrin, it passed. Here, however, the Legislature just had to get out of town by Mothers' Day, so do you really think this one is going to see the light of day in the House? Or will it just sit in the House until after the November election? The state legislature, as it has frequently done in the past 4 years, has engaged in a CON GAME.

    3. Speaking of the other con mentioned here, we also remember that Metra was pushing Operation Lifesaver, so one should consider that in addition to all the demons and trauma suffered by the engineer.

    One thing I could add, you could say this about Kruesi--apparently he was not secretly corrupt like Pagano. When he tried his pension deal, he at least submitted it to the CTA Board in time for the newspapers to expose it. Major papers, too, not just Crain's. The Sun-Times acknowledged about a week before that the source of the tip on Pagano was Greg Hinz at Crain's; the Tribune did not.

  • In reply to jack:

    JAck, thanks for the note on the spam comment.

    And you are absolutely right about the legislative con game.

  • In reply to jack:

    I noticed that there are now arrival projections for trains at Belmont. Love it! However, I noticed there is nothing for the purple line yet. I wonder if anybody knows if that is ever going to happen? I wonder if it has something to do with the "express" portion of the trip messing up the average mph of the trip?

  • In reply to Nirvana911:

    Technically, it shouldn't. One would think that the system is controlled by the signal blocks, and hence Belmont "should know," that the next train is clearing Sheridan, thus minimizing the zone of uncertainty.

    Of course, having ridden the Purple Line on a regular basis, the question is when are they going to let it clear Clark Jct.

  • In reply to jack:

    @ Jack: You're right. Cannot argue what you've said at all.

    @ Kevin: Quinn won't do anything that will help the transit agencies. It's all about his numbers, despite the fact that an alarming amount of seniors I've talked to since this all went thru on Blago's watch said they didn't need it. Of course, Quinn wouldn't know what the CTA passengers and employees need...he's only concerned about his numbers.

    The CTA is bringing people back to work steadily that have been laid off since November. Similarly, they are threatening another layoff in October and February of next year. This too is a part of the CON GAME. Let's ruin as many lives as we can by inducing more layoffs and use the seniors as a poy to claim we saved the day for everyone.

  • In reply to ctadriver99:

    Correction: I meant to say the CTA has been bringing people back laid off since February..not November. My mistake.

  • I don't know much about Pagano's life, but I do agree with the assessment of how he decided to end it. Many keystrokes have been spilled in the blogosphere about how we shouldn't judge a suicide and we don't know what the person was thinking nor do we know how desperate they feel. All are true, but the fact that he chose to use a train to kill himself and left the page from Metra's operations manual regarding protocols after a suicide by train with his suicide note point to something entirely different. That was a deliberate effort to, if not inflict pain, at least mock the organization. While it's sad when anyone takes his or her own life, the manner in which Pagano did it is reprehensible given the fact that he had special insight into the effect his choice might have. Often engineers who hit and kill persons on the tracks are unable to work for months if not years. There are specially trained counselors employed by the railroads to provide assistance in these cases because of the unique nature of the trauma. My heart goes out to Pagano's family and especially to the engineer. I would love to have been a fly on the pearly gates when Phil had his chat with St. Peter.

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