Complaints about CTA drivers fall this year compared to 2009

Complaints about CTA operators have dropped about 16% through October of this year, compared to the same period last year. There were 701 fewer complaints so far this year.

CTA customer feedback complaints.jpg

At the same time, compliments about CTA personnel have fallen by 26%, with 326 compliments handed out by customers.

One black mark on service from year to year is a slight increase in complaints about CTA workers failing to assist customers. There were 22 more such complaints this year for a 3% increase.

These stats were reported in Monday's Getting Around column by Jon Hilkevitch "CTA bus driver models customer service."

I can't kelp but wonder if complaint are down this year because of service cuts -- fewer drivers delivering less service means fewer complaints. And same deal with the number of compliments.

Have you ever registered a complaint with the CTA? Tell us about it.

See the graphic for exact numbers on specific complaints.

(Chicago Tribune graphic)


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  • There may also be reason that with CTA actually going through with layoffs, maybe a few more drivers now think that their jobs are on the line and being more courteous, but not enough to get a commendation.

  • I would like to know what the criteria are for "passed up by a driver." In determining what constitutes a "pass up" is any responsibility placed on the passenger for being aware that the bus is approaching and for being present at a marked bus stop ? I can recall numerous times when a driver has pulled over for some doofus who is too busy staring at his/her phone to notice that the bus is approaching. Also, drivers often pull over for those who are using bus shelters or bus stop benches as a respite zone and have no intention of boarding. There are also those who believe that the bus should stop for them if they are across the street, a half block away, etc. I'm always grateful if a driver is willing to stop for me in these situations, but I don't expect it. I know the enormous pressure drivers face in adhering to CTA's on-time statistics.

  • In reply to marthat3:

    That's what makes riding Pace so confusing. In the city and certain designated areas, only posted bus stops are allowed. In others, someone can flag down a bus at any corner where it is safe to do so. Keep in mind, this means an actual street corner. But I've heard drivers tell me that they've gotten called in for a pass up of a person in their home driveway or McDonald's or something silly. Apparently, the term of "corner" is not clearly defined.

    CTA also abides by the any corner rule in Evanston as well. Of course....some people don't comprehend its definition and interpret it as "anywhere". The driver has to make the determination of weather or not this "anywhere" is even safe to begin with in situations like this. You can't really then sit there and call it a "pass up".

  • In reply to ctadriver99:

    Pace has some schedules marked posted stops only, or posted stops on some portions of the route. The rule elsewhere is that the bus will stop where safe to do so. Usually, in those areas, the driver will stop, because Pace is fairly desperate for any ridership (as opposed to the South Division, where many of the posted stops only routes are).

    I have the feeling that the city must have some sort of ordinance on posted stops, as all Pace schedules on routes with segments within the city (such as for 423) say that the bus only stops at posted stops in the city. However, that isn't worth my researching it.

    I was surprised that when Pace eliminated some city stops, such as on Halsted south of 95th, CTA replaced their signs that said that Pace 352 stopped there.

    Maybe to get back to the point, I thought that most "passed up" complaints would be because you couldn't physically pack more people on the bus. I once made such a complaint. However, the way this thread is going, it seems like the consensus is otherwise.

  • In reply to ctadriver99:

    I used to regularly leave complaints for what I dubbed the "56 Fake-out." It happened as often as once a week; the #56 would come across Wacker Drive, heading west, and a bunch of us standing there may as well have been invisible. It didn't matter if the bus was full or not. The driver pointedly stared straight ahead and didn't once acknowledge us. Same 2 drivers, every time it happened.

    I also sent a complaint this morning, actually, for the first time in a few years. We were kept at Chicago (Blue Line) with the doors shut and no communication for 20 minutes this morning. And then again at Grand for 10 more minutes, again, with the doors shut and no communication. Someone started a rumor that the CTA was evacuating the Red Line, too, and then everybody got all freaked out that there could be some sort of attack and the notoriously uncommunicative CTA was just quiet as always. Never did find out what the issue was, and I ended up being over half an hour late for work.

  • In reply to erincinco:

    Erin - the Red Line was diverted to the elevated tracks for a bit today because of the report of smoke in the tunnel:

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Kevin, in a situation as described where you have been sitting for a while with no status communications - are you allowed to use the 'L' intercom to ask what the problem is?? Can you be arrested??

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Gray Line: Of course you can get on the intercom and ask. There are no rules against that.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I was passed up a few weeks ago by the #65 bus, so I pulled out my Chicago card to call and complain, and the phone number is listed as 1-888-YOUR-CTA without the corresponding #. Of course, my blackberry phone has a full keyboard and so I can't call phone numbers with words in them because I don't have the old phone letters memorized. (Coincidentally, there was a nearby Chase advertisement with an old phone pad with the letters that I used to figure out the phone #) but I wonder if the switchover to more smart phones effects the number of first time complainers who can't figure out what number to call.

  • In reply to erincinco:

    Hilkevitch documented a true pass up in his 12/12/10 column. He snitched to CTA resulting in a suspension for the driver. I wonder if any citizen would have received the same response or if such treatment is reserved for the Tribune's transportation reporter?

    "The same cannot be said of many CTA drivers, including a driver on the No. 151 Sheridan route who on a recent cold morning drove past me and others waiting at a bus stop, then refused to let us board when we chased him down at a red light a few feet away. But justice was served when I called the CTA to complain about the bus stop pass-up and challenged transit officials to download video from an external bus camera. They did, and the driver was interviewed, charged with a behavioral violation, issued a written warning and a one-day unpaid suspension, said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney."

  • In reply to erincinco:

    Ah! Good to know; thank you, Kevin! Would have been nice to have had some - any - clarity from the operator this morning when we were sitting there forever. Nothing like wild rumors when we have no other information...

  • In reply to erincinco:

    CTA (canned) response:

    "Thank you for your comments. We apologize for your inconvenience and poor travel experience. We do everything we can to provide fast, reliable service, and work hard to minimize the impact of delays when they occur. Clear communication with customers during service disruptions is one of the CTA's top priorities, so we appreciate you taking the time to report this incident. Again, we apologize for your inconvenience."

    This is why I generally don't complain.

  • In reply to erincinco:

    I guess "customer service" giving the canned response hasn't changed. In the case of the bus "passed me by," the usual one is that "we will have the supervisor monitor the situation."

    However, you added one more to the count the next time Hilkevitch asks.

  • In reply to erincinco:

    It's possible the motorman on your Blue Line train didn't have any information. I've always appreciated the drivers who will get on the intercom and announce they don't know what the delay is, but there is one and the train will move when they get the okay to move the train.

  • In reply to erincinco:

    I reported a driver last Friday for passing up people at three consecutive stops. His bus was empty, just leaving the Howard terminal south on Clark. I had a feeling he was supposed to go a distance & not pickup anyone due to being very late, but he also shouldn't have had a 22 Clark/Harrison destination sign. It should have been changed to "Not in service".

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