Design flaw on CTA Howard platform could endanger lives

My wife tells me there’s a design flaw at the CTA’s Howard station that could endanger lives. The station serves riders for the Red Line, Purple Line and Yellow Line.

She was walking last week on the inner-track side of the northbound platform. The space adjacent to stairs, escalators and elevators is so narrow that it’s really an accident waiting to happen.

On Thursday, Susan was trying to pick her way around the other passengers standing in that part of the walkway. She was near the southern end and had to walk north toward the Purple Line train.

She didn’t hear a Skokie Swift train approaching behind her — and ultimately about to clip her elbow. That is, if a CTA janitor hadn’t yelled at her: “Watch your elbow! You! Watch your elbow!” When she realized it was her he was bellowing at, she turned and saw the train sliding by. It missed her elbow.

The janitor went on to explain: “I’ve been working for the CTA for 17 years, and you wouldn’t believe how many body parts I’ve had to pick up off those tracks. I’ve found three thumbs.”

My wife, grateful he wasn’t scooping up her elbow, said, “Thanks for the tip.”

Be careful on the Howard and any other platform.


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  • I sort of had that feeling about most CTA platforms. The old Howard wasn't good, with the covered stairway in the middle, and I guess with the elevators, it is now worse.

  • It was inexcusable that the CTA was allowed to rebuild the Howard platform within its original footprint!

    First, the platform is built on the 1920s viaducts, all of which are in dire need of replacement. Most of them have been reinforced with massive steel cribbing in the last two years.
    Second. How the hell could the CTA allow the building of the stores & parking lot so close to the existing right of way without allowing for moving the tracks over so the platforms could be widened, al a Belmont & Fullerton? And they could have used eminent domain to take all or part of the building on the Evanston side of Howard St.
    Third. What kind of idiots design a station where you go up, then down? That was the biggest complaint about the long gone & definitely not missed Central Station that the IC RR built at 11th & Michigan.

    The CTA is incapable of common sense in station rebuilding!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The CTA does not have eminent domain powers. The City of Chicago does CTA's dirty work.

  • In reply to leobaz:

    Where did you see that?
    The CTA used eminent domain at Belmont, Fullerton & Sedgwick to rebuild the stations.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    My mistake, I was thinking about the orange line.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    A couple winters ago we were headed down to the holiday train and for whatever reason they were rerouting trains around Wilson to the old station platform. I didn't even know that thing was in existence still.
    My mother, who has done things like travel overland through Afghanistan, was scared of that platform. I was constantly shoving my excited child back toward the back wall afraid of how close the edge of that platform was.
    I know it is expensive, but really, they need to fully close those old platforms, I'd have rather had a shuttle bus to Lawrence or Sheridan than that old platform. And I agree they need to find the money to widen stations when they add elevators/escalators, even if it involves moving the tracks (as at Belmont & Fullerton) or moving the platforms to an outside position from an inside one.

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