Police err on side of caution in shutting CTA's Red, Purple lines around Wilson Monday night

As Red and Purple line commuters painfully realize, the Chicago Police on Monday night ordered a suspension of rail service on the Red and Purple lines Monday night from Berwyn to Addison.

Police said a "hostage situation" was occurring at 4639 N. Broadway, and no doubt feared there may be bullets flying out of the building that faces the Red and Purple line north of Wilson. Shuttle buses went into service for the six hours that service was suspended.

On the CTA Tattler Facebook fan page, I questioned whether it was an overreaction by the police. That was before I knew the exact address of the incident. Since it is so close to the L embankment, it was a good decision to suspend service. It's always better to err on this side of caution, especially when they are dealing with gun-toting fugitives.

I'm glad the situation ended peacefully. And I'm sorry so many commutes home were messed up.

But it was the right thing to do.

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  • Also it was about 1/2 block from the Wilson station entrance.

    Where is the guy from yesterday who said that there is less violence near transit? These kinds of "service alerts for police activity" as well as fire activity are making using the L ever more problematic.

  • The problem was no news was being released while on the train so when you hear the line is being shut down for police activity, we riders think there is some kind of mugging or gang activity so we get annoyed. My commute was double the time, the people were double the annoying on the bus and traffic sucked. Sure I gripe about it but in the end, when I found out after 1015pm that there was a stand off with semi/automatic weapons involved I was grateful that they shut down the trains because those bullets can go farther then one knows (previous experience shooting similar rounds). If the gunmen wanted to make a statement they could have done the unthinkable and targeted the train, but the police took that away as soon as they could. Best decision they could have made in that kind of situation. People should be glad they get to live and fight another day.

  • Communication from the CTA was piss poor, as usual in this case. I was forced to exit the Red line at Belmont last night. I asked the Motorman of the train what was the matter, and all he knew was that there was police activity at Wilson and that no trains were being allowed to move northward. I walked east to catch the first northbound 36 Broadway to get home. I asked the bus driver if she knew what was the matter and she said this was the first she had heard of it. A few stops later, a mad rush of people displaced from the Red line north of Belmont boarded the train and they were saying that someone from the CTA told them that this was a Terrorist situation at the Wilson stop. The 36 was re-routed to Sheridan, between Wilson and Lawrence. It took us at least 30 minutes to traverse this detour, due to the increased traffic. CTA has a looooong way to go to provide timely communication to its own employees, much less its customers.

  • Regarding communications from the CTA, they did a great job on social media - esp. Twitter - in communicating about the situation, but not so good in filtering that word down to the troops on the ground.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    While darkwing probably assumes that everyone on the L or bus has an iPhone to whip out to see if CTA tweeted something, I'm sure that CTA can't assume that. If, after all this time, they don't have a way to make a general announcement from the control center... And, certainly, the train operators must still have some form of the beltloop radio, unless CTA has regressed from that, too.

    For that matter, I wonder if the overused euphemism "police activity" retains any meaning.

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    From my standpoint, the CTA did a remarkably good job last night. While waiting at Montrose & Clarendon around 4:40, having taken the 135 from LaSalle Street, I watched the stream of SWAT armored vehicles screaming by, heading east, so I knew something was up. I arrived at Wilson & Broadway on the #78 Montrose bus, intending to ride the Red Line north toward Evanston. The scene was something like a movie set. Dozens of police vehicles were stopped on Broadway for a block or so north, lights flashing; yellow police tape blocked Broadway from building to building, cutting off the sidewalk as well. CTA supervisors were stationed at the southeast corner, giving both bus drivers and riders directions. A CTA rep was very helpfully stationed at the northwest corner, near the Wilson station entrance, who gave me the good suggestion (which I took) to walk west to Racine by Truman College, then north to Lawrence, to avoid the scene. At Lawrence and Broadway, I could have taken a bus west to Clark, but I instead walked to Argyle for a delicious Chinese dinner, figuring that the train would be running by the time I finished eating. It wasn't. But again, a CTA supervisor, standing outside the Argyle Red Line station, gave me good directions to take the Broadway bus from the corner, north to Berwyn, where the Red Line was running north to Howard. At Berwyn, Red Line Shuttle buses were unloading and loading for the run from Berwyn south to Addison? Belmont?--the bus marqees all read "Red Line Shuttle to Fullerton" but I haven't heard this to be true. But all the bus drivers and the on scene supervisors gave accurate directions to everyone: going south, get on this bus; heading north, the train is running. Again, on-platform CTA reps and clear instructions over the loudspeakers were very helpful. At Howard, my transfer to the Purple Line was uneventful, but I could see the many on-platform CTA reps and hear the clear instructions broadcast on the speakers. I thought overall, the CTA did a really good job of rerouting this huge chunk of rush hour traffic.

    I contrast this with Metra's midday habit of occasionally switching tracks for construction with absolutely no warning, so that you find yourself helplessly on the wrong platform as your train pulls in. Of course, the next train isn't for an hour, and as that one approaches, you find yourself squinting down the tracks to see if the train has switched back to the normal track, ready to suicidally run across the tracks in front of it and jump the center fence so that you don't have to wait yet ANOTHER hour.

  • I thought they did a great job of communicating as well. I figured if the Purple line was involved it would slow the Brown down as well, so I stopped and ate as well. Then I took took the Brown south from Grand through the Loop and then back north. It took an hour and a half to get home but I wasn't hungry and had a seat for the whole ride.

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