CTA disciplinary process: four strikes and you're out

Yesterday I wrote about CTA complaints, what the most common ones are, and how complaints seem to be trending down this year. The next logical question is, what does the CTA do about these complaints, particularly if the complaints are found to be legitimate and are caused by an employee.

Four of the five top complaints — other than those related to Chicago Card/Plus and fares — are directly related to employee behavior. They are (with the number of complaints lodged between Jan. 1 and June 30 noted in parenthesis):

  • Pass-ups, where a driver passes a rider waiting at a bus stop (906).
  • Ruder operators (882).
  • Reckless driving (653).
  • Failure to assist customers (567).

Once a complaint is received, it is logged into a database and forwarded to the responsible department for response, and, if warranted, investigation and disciplinary action. Investigative techniques could include viewing available security camera footage and Control Center reports, and conducting employee interviews.

If the complaint is founded, union agreements outline a course of progressive discipline:

  •  First offense – written warning
  • Second offense – written warning with one-day suspension
  • Third offense – corrective case interview/probation and three-day suspension
  • Fourth offense – recommendation for discharge

Of course, some incidents may warrant an accelerated discipline process, such as an employee operating a CTA vehicle while using or displaying an unauthorized electronic device.

Finally, a stat that may shock KevinB: The CTA reports that it’s doing much better this year at closing out and settling customer complaints. In April of 2008, it had not closed 10% of complaints; in May of 2009, that statistic improved to 3%.

Check out all the CTA’s Performance Metric Reports here.

Filed under: CTA in the news

Tags: CTA, Discipline process


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  • "In April of 2008, it had closed 10% of complaints; in May of 2009, that statistic improved to 3%."

    Kevin, looking at those pdf's, I think you mean "not closed." Got confused at first why it's a good thing they close less complaints :P

  • Good catch Sargas! I need an editor.

    I changed the last sentence in the second-to-last graph to read that the CTA had "NOT closed 10% of complaints."

  • Also, it depends on what means "closed out." If it is like the old Police Internal Review Board, it doesn't mean that they were satisfactorily resolved. If the CTA is using its old technique that we'll ask the supervisor to monitor the situation, that isn't resolution.

    Of course, they probably will claim that privacy laws block disclosing what discipline was imposed against what employee, unless it becomes an arbitration case, such as Big Baby going to the media when he finally lost (but didn't realize it).

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm still waiting for call backs on complaints from last year and the year before. Could those calls have been "closed" without actually calling the person back or investigating. I'm still waiting on several from this year too including being almost physically assaulted by CTA people at the howard st station for taking a picture of the leaky floor with my Blackberry camera.


  • How do you complain about a driver who has passed you by? At best if you know where to look you'll get a run number, but that's it.

  • In reply to Cheryl:


    If you tell them the bus route and the time they passed you, I would bet they could figure out the driver's name using BusTracker and know who was assigned to that route at the time.

  • In reply to chris:

    If you just give just the bus route, and time. You could end up getting the wrong person in trouble, as the buses could be running late, or off schedule for whatever reason.

  • In reply to goldminetim:

    Yes, but unless the buses are right on top of each other, if you give the exact time I still say they should be able to figure it out via the BusTracker info.

    You might not be able to get all the other info if the bus speeds past you.

  • In reply to chris:

    CTA (and most other transit buses) have the fleet number displayed in FOUR locations. At the very least, if a bus passes you, the fleet number is on the rear end of the unit.

    CTA keeps pretty good track on what bus is assigned to whom...and when...and where it should be.

    Just a thought, make sure the bus that passed you isn't out of service. CTA gets complaint calls in constantly for buses that are out of service being shunted between garages, or going to rescue a break-down.

  • In reply to chris:

    I know this is off topic, but is that guy Michael Scott on the RTA Board as well as the School Board?

  • In reply to chris:

    To JMan: Yes, Michael Scott is on the RTA board, and chair of the School Board.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    So, sort of like an ingrown toenail, Daley has to rely on the same folks to cover all of these board positions, and get paid for them. I wonder if Scott is one of those behind the current paratransit imbroglio at the RTA. Will be interesting if the Justice Department actually decides to go after them, as threatened.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Hey Cheryl! If you get the Bus Number (4 digits) painted on the bus, the time, location & of course,the route number this will pretty much nail the operator. To add more facts, get the same info (along with the run number-an alph numeric-located in the lower right hand side of front window as bus approaches)of the next bus that you board. The more facts you have, the better!

    Also, please note that discipline is not based on a CALENDAR year, but goes 12 months from the date of first offense for SAME violation.

    Happy Riding!

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Cheryl, Oopps! Forgot the obvious-you also need the date. There is no gurantee that the operator on Monday has the same run on Tuesday!

  • In reply to sad718:

    I know how to do it. I'm just wondering about the average person--I got on a bus last night and the people boarding with me had to ask if it was a Belmont bus, even though the bus was announcing itself and all its signs were working. They still felt the need to ask the driver. How would those people complain about a specific driver?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    My question is about the "pass up" complaints.

    Are these just complaints from whiny idiots who don't understand that there is no room on a packed bus for them, or are these legitimate complaints about empty buses passing people?

  • In reply to goldminetim:

    Tim, are you as rude during routes as you are shown in your comments? Maybe you didn't know, but you are employed by the CTA, and people who ride the CTA pays a fare that pays your paycheck. They are the customers and while customers may not always be right, they certainly don't need your rudeness after getting off a long day of work.

  • In reply to CTArider:

    I'm extremely helpful and nice out there, despite the treatment I receive from many outrageous, and ignorant customers. You think you don't like dealing with rudeness after a long day of work, I don't want it while I'm still at work either buddy.

    When I first started, I was naive about the operators too. Myself, I'm not the type to go out of my way to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but I am a friendly guy. Despite this, I decided I was gonna be a different operator, I was gonna say "hello" or whatever to everyone. What did I learn? Turns out wearing the uniform, turned me into the enemy. Passenger, after passenger, I'd extend a friendly greeting, and in return I'd receive a dirty look, or eyes rolling so I figured, what's the point of trying to be nice? So I decided, if they flash me a smile, I'll smile back. If they say "hello" I'll say it back, and if you want to get on the bus and give me attitude, I'll just ignore it. I'm sorry you've had poor experiences with bus operators, but it wasn't me, and make sure before you point fingers that it wasn't you that created the negative experience either.

    I don't know which came 1st, the chicken or the egg, but in the case of the rude passenger and the rude operator, I can tell you for a fact, in my case it was the rude passenger. If you get on my bus, I can't guarantee you that I'll blow you away with my delightful attitude, but I will guarantee I won't be the rude 1. I'm just trying to move the bus from 1 end of the street to the other, and if you wanna come with, well jump on, you're more than welcome aboard.

  • In reply to CTArider:

    And I would appreciate an answer to my question, as in 1 case, it is a legitimate issue.

  • In reply to CTArider:

    gold tim i agree with u 100% and your comments have not been rude at all but very imformative, cta rider and kevin b are what u might call trouble makers with to many complaints the company eventually sees a pattern and dont take them seriously. and the x- cta comment he/she know we are not talking about a perfect system at all, most complaints are not specific enough to even investigate, and when investigating them it is found that most complaints come from buses that were not in service, rerouting, and i cant believe the public is relying on the bustracker system, most information that comes in with a complaint is not correct, thats y it is closed out

  • In reply to renee:

    Explain to me how I am a trouble maker. I am only responding to goldminetime's rude comments. If you don't think his comments are rude, well then that's your opinion, but I don't see how I am being a troublemaker.

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