New RTA project reminds riders to give up seats to elderly, disabled

The three Chicago-area transit agencies are teaming up to provide clear and consistent signage on trains and buses about priority seating for passengers with disabilities and senior citizens.

One decal is used to identify priority seating, said a CTA spokesperson, while the second clearly outlines the policy for priority seating, which states: “Priority seating is for customers with disabilities and seniors. Please move when requested.”

“The two decals were created under a joint project with RTA, Metra, Pace and CTA to provide clear and consistent messaging and uniform signage for priority seating on all buses and trains operated by the three service boards,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to CTA Tattler.  Input and approval of the new decals was also provided by the ADA Advisory Committees of the three service boards and the RTA. These decals will replace the existing RTA priority seating indicator decal that’s been in use on CTA vehicles since the 1970s. Permanent decals outlining the priority seating policy will also replace the car cards that are often placed in the customer alert holders on vehicles and are only temporary.”

I’m glad to see this new campaign, as it gives me further ammunition to call out rude people who sit in these priority seating areas while obviously pregnant women and folks with broken arms or legs stand by helplessly.

Of course, I’ve never been shy about finding seats, especially for pregnant women. Just a few weeks I asked loudly of three able-bodies men staring at their phones: “Which of you gentlemen will give the young lady a seat?” They looked up innocently and then one finally got up.

In my experience, the two demographic groups most likely to willingly offer a seat to passengers with disabilities and seniors are women in their 30s to 50s, a young African American men.

Hopefully, the new campaign with the directive to “Please move when requested” will spur others to be more polite.


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  • "These decals will replace the existing RTA priority seating indicator decal that’s been in use on CTA vehicles since the 1970s." Which is what I thought.

    Unless one believes that the boors will be impressed by a sign having a red heading, I don't think so.

    Maybe CTA should also consider that the other signs (such as the "No Smoking, Eating, Littering..." one) should be changed from black over white to red over white. Not that that's going to make much of a difference, either.

    In fact they should bring back the "Use the Exit Dor" ones. The misspelling might get someone's attention. Or they could put a taser under the collapsible seat.

  • In reply to jack:

    I totally agree.
    Signs haven't worked before & the new ones sure don't work now.
    I still see young healthy people plop down in them.
    I see young mothers take up four of the seats with their damn strollers!
    When is the CTA going to enforce the folding of strollers?
    I've been on buses with three strollers, which meant that not only were there no Priority seats, but you couldn't get to the back of the bus for a seat or even a decent place to stand. You were stuck in the front, with a whole bunch of others & still the idiot driver did nothing about it!

    And I do have a minor disability which would entitle me to sit in them, but I don't unless it's the only seat available!

  • In reply to jack:

    That just seemed so strange to me that I had to do a search and I actually found a picture of the "Exit-Dor" sign:

    I am not sure what they were thinking here. Perhaps it is some brand name for the door itself?

  • In reply to eBob:

    That wasn't the one about which I was thinking.

    There used to be a sign on the standee windows with a big arrow that said "Please move to the rear and use the exit dor."

    The sign must go back to CSL days, or the very beginning of CTA, since Lind's book has a picture of one on page 391, although it is not legible. Apparently it was the predecessor of the sign shown in this screenshot in this post.

  • For what it's worth, the signs are much bigger than the current signs. I also think we riders can help enforce this rule by calling people out.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Well, if that's the case, they should make the sign I mentioned bigger, too. I remember when "No Smoking" was emblazoned across the whole headsign compartment door of the bus.

    Also, the riders can pull out their iPhones to report the slobs and have happen what was reported at the Addison stop last weekend. At least there, the cops were apparently watching the security camera monitor.

    I still wonder if Mr. CTA saying "violators WILL be arrested" has any effect.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ooh, did I ever tell you guys about the time I had to call out a bus driver for smoking on the bus?

    It was quite a few years ago. Presumably there was a big NO SMOKING sign up in front, not that it made any difference. The bus had been in one of those turnaround spots and I was the only passenger on the bus when he lit up and started out on the route. I informed him smoking wasn't allowed on the bus, and he informed me that that prohibition did not apply to the driver. I told him that was such news to me that I was going to call the CTA and discuss it with them. He thought about it, and as I got to my stop and exited the bus, he actually apologized. So I never did make the call.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Way to go, CC!

  • Maybe instead of farecards with their pictures on them, the CTA should hand out official CTA tasers to people with disabilities.

  • It's not strictly demographic, but I'd add a third category to that list: uniformed military members. On more than one occasion, a nearby soldier jumped to his feet before I even finished picking up my bag.

    Do the newer rail cars have obnoxiously embroidered handicap symbols in the upholstery of the priority seats? I want to say the only place I remember seeing them is on one particular type of bus, but that might have been in another city. Either way, perhaps that would help as well.

  • I just saw one of those signs the other I was sitting in a priority seat.

    I am a woman between 30-50, and I have no issues with sitting in a priority seat if there aren't any other seats available. However: I take one of those seats with the caveat that if anyone disabled/elderly/otherwise needs it boards after me, I'm up. That's just the deal.

    I do loathe those oblivious people, deeply transfixed by whatever electronic personal device is in their hands at the moment, who don't even see a heavily pregnant woman standing directly in front of them, or an older person, struggling to hang on. Friday night, I was actually elbowed aside by a younger man so he could get the one remaining (priority) seat. He proceeded to ignore everybody who boarded after him who would have been entitled to that particular seat. The woman sitting next to him (mid-30s) got up without a word when an older woman shuffled onto the train two stops later. She stood in front of the heel for the rest of my trip. I hope she stepped on his foot at some point.

  • In reply to cinco:

    See? Give that woman a taser, she gets a seat.

  • Kevin, Thanks very much for your comments! I would like to remind everyone that not every disability is easy to be seen. I can walk just fine but my spine has a number of issues that prevent me from standing. If there are no seats at the back, I will take a priority seat. Last week, I saw a young, apparently healthy young man in the priority seats who did not get up for someone on crutches and I was rather appalled. However, during our conversation, it became clear that he has a neuromuscular disorder that made him very eligible to sit there. It is super to remind folks to give up seats when needed but please do not rush to judge. Thanks!!

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