"Conductor kept them informed" - letter to Trib

There’s been a lively discussion here about how good a job the CTA did in communicating with passengers about what to do during the smokey emergency in the Red Line subway tunnel.

I’ve written that the CTA can do better. Others — especially MK — have said you can’t always believe what we read in the media.

Well, here’s something I read in the media. It’s a letter to the Tribune from the parent of person stuck on one of the evacuated. Good to know there was open communication on this rail run:

I hope it’s not too late to publicly thank the conductor, firemen and fellow travelers on the train my daughter was on last Sunday. The young men in her care provided, humor, calm and kindness. The conductor kept them informed with instructions (especially “do not open the doors”). And when they finally reached the platform in their smoke-filled, fire-surrounded rail care, the Chicago fire department was there to lead them to safety. You hear a lot of grumbling about CTA communication from conductors, but, at least on the train my daughter was on, everyone worked together. Thank you!

— Dona Hewitt, Chicago


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  • Because CTA train operators are omniscient, right? I'm pretty sure that's what the average Chicagoan thinks. That's like me blaming the staff at McDonald's last Friday when I was sitting there and the storm rolled in. Clearly I expected an announcement from them about what to do.

  • Here's my crabby comment--the people who drive the trains ARE NOT CONDUCTORS.

    I was on the Brown Line last night during the tornado warning. I got into a discussion with fellow riders about whether we would prefer death to lying face down on the floor of the train in the event we saw a tornado while between stations.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So, don't keep us guessing. Which did you chose? Death or lying face down on the floor of a train?

    As for those questioning CTA continuing to operate, Metra held the UP North trains last night (and I assume others, but I only get updates on the UP North). When trains started moving again after the storm passed, some were delayed almost two hours. I'm sure Metra passengers were grumbling "there never was a real tornado. Why did they stop the trains?"

  • In reply to marthat3:

    Metra passengers should be grumbling!
    I also get the UP North alerts.
    Because my power went out, several of us were outside watching the storm. Between 8:15 & 8:45, four trains went north less than five minutes apart.

    But the reason for the holdup by Metra was that the City of Chicago officials panicked & set off the air raid sirens as a tornado warning, even though the nearest sighting of a tornado was at least 30 miles away from Rogers Park, in the south suburbs.
    There wasn't any sensible reason to set off the sirens. We were looking at the sky & there weren't any rotational clouds. And I have seen rotational clouds during numerous storms, but they never have formed into tornadoes.

    Basically, Metra got screwed by the idiots at the city's office of Emergency Management!

  • In reply to marthat3:

    Oh sorry. We decided sitting on the floor with anything we had with us (open umbrellas, purses, laptops) held over our heads to deflect as much flying glass as possible.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Once upon a time, newspapers cleaned up letters & corrected obvious mistakes, like calling the motormen 'conductors'!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I was thinking the same, but feared I would be accused of being too picky.

    Of course, compared to what the newspapers do on the legal reporting front, this is de minimis. If you want to know how I really feel about that, look at some of my posts on Dennis Byrne's Barbershop. At least I got him to admit that he is not a lawyer, but discussing something he doesn't know about.

    Anyway, today's term is probably "operator." However, those at the Tribune should have known that the last conductor was about 12 or so years ago, and then they were retained only for the reason that has become obvious now--to evacuate the train during an emergency in the subway.

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