Though it appears the Tribune has forgotten it. At least it wasn't
mentioned in Wednesday's print edition, not even a tiny sidebar with the
page 1 coverage of our mayor-elect's appointment of Claypool as CTA
I will wait for the NTSB report to explain the details of
what really happened. And I won't review now what a mess it is at
the Clark Junction north of Belmont, where the incident occurred.
I will, however, today touch on what continues to be a huge problem at any CTA service outage:
And that is a lack of coordinated, timely, informative communications
to passengers about what happened, what it means to passengers right
now, and how passengers can safely make their way to wherever they are
To me, this is a way bigger problem than track fires and derailments
because the CTA has known about it for years and hasn't solved it.
Problem: Excessive grease, debris causes 2010 Red Line track fire .
Solution: Use less lubricant, implement regular cleaning schedule for right of way.
Problem: 2006 CTA Blue Line subway derailment and fire.
Solution: Improved track inspection procedures; repaired, replaced tracks and ties in subway.
Problem: Providing passengers with adequate information after a CTA service outage
Solution: Well, um, so, uh . . . .
On the communications problems found in the 2006 derailment, here's the NTSB's last of 14 recommendations: "Examine and improve as necessary your ability to communicate with passengers and perform emergency evacuations."
To be sure, the CTA has vastly improved routine communications with passengers: email alerts on planned service changes, RSS feeds for rail and bus alerts, Bus Tracker, Train Tracker.
However, the key issue is still getting information from the CTA central
control location to the bus and rail operators and the station customer
service assistants so they can tell passengers what is happening and how to get where they need to go during the outage.
I was looking over my CTA Tattler archives and came across this post from October 2005: "CTA responds to post on communication problems during outages."
More than five years later, we're still complaining about the same issue.
Now *there's* a good first test for Claypool.