Photos show dirty CTA rail cars

I had been collecting photos of dirty CTA “L” train cars over the last couple of weeks before the Chicago Tribune posted its story on dirty rail cars. I chalked it up to the extreme cold for the lack of maintenance.

All the photos here were taken on the Red Line after I boarded going south at Morse, which is just two stops from the Howard terminal. After all, all train cars are supposed to be cleaned before they leave the yard. from the Tribune report:

Cleaning crews assigned to the platforms at the end of each route pick up trash and, if necessary, mop up spills between the end of each run and the start of another, CTA officials said, adding that a special cleaning is ordered if hazardous waste is found.

More thorough cleanings are done overnight and during “deep cleans,” which occur every 16 days on average, according to the transit agency. In a general cleaning, for example, workers sweep and mop the floors; clean seats, windows and stainless steel surfaces; and remove graffiti, officials said.

But if that were the case, I wouldn’t have found jalapeno peppers on the floor of one car.

A CTA spokesperson did point to the cold in noting that more homeless people have been riding the Red and Blue lines all night rather than stay out in the numbing cold.

Ultimately, it’s up to all of not to use the CTA as our own personal trash can.

See the Tribune’s photo gallery of CTA workers cleaning rail cars.
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  • Was that last one the "enchilada express".

  • Oh no. I get on at Morse and the trains are effing disgusting. I thought they *weren't* cleaning them between runs anymore because they got rid of the awesome "internship" (for lack of a better word) program where ex-felons cleaned the cars.

  • The buses don't look any better.

  • If they were sweeping the cars (which is all it would take for newspapers) they would have to do it on the Howard platform, as there is the "loop bridge" that takes NB trains over the Yellow Line tracks to the SB track; they don't have to enter the yard (Google Map).

    Hence, you have photographic evidence that they probably were lying.

  • And apparently to keep one step ahead on the accusations, ABC7 now says that Brian Steele claims it is the operators' job to clean the cars. Really?

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    I too have been riding the Red Line every day and start my trek south at Belmont. It seems to be the one line that is always overcrowded, and indeed always dirty. But a lot of that dirty look is caused by the newspapers, coffee cups, candy wrappers, spilled food and so on, of the regular ridership. Yes, I see an occasional homeless person, they usually don't disturb anyone, so pinning this on them seems simply unfair. As far as the CTA cleaning crews—The salt/grime on the floor is something we'll probably have to live with until the winter passes, I don't see how cleaning crews can keep up on a line this crowded with so many wet shoes treading in the snow and dirt. At the same time, I'm amazed that they do as good a job as they do given the circumstances. What I don't get is the Trib going after the CTA. Why don't they direct their indignation at the fact that so many sidewalks in the loop are treacherous ice patches. While streets are kept clean for the sacred cars/cows, many sidewalks and crossings are a disaster.

  • In reply to Sebastian Huydts:

    You're new to the area, aren't you? It's 9 times out of 10 caused by the homeless.

  • In reply to Phillip9:

    Phillip: No, I'm not new to the area.

    And I doubt the homeless are carrying jalapeno peppers and then littering the floors with them.

    Sure, the homeless account for some of the filth, but regular passengers contribute their fair share.

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    In reply to Phillip9:

    You're right I'm new. I moved here just 23 years ago, and have only been riding the red line for 22 of those. Check your numbers before you accuse.

  • Kevin, are you aware that operators/motormen are being harrasssed daily to perform a task that is not part of their job, and that is to clean their train when the train arrives into the terminal?The operators/motormen aren't even allowed to use the bathroom until their trains are cleaned. and are receiving one day suspensions for allegedly not complying. Motormen have enough responsibilities, since November 9, 1997, when conductors were eliminated without one pennny more. This is in retaliation by Forest Claypool and Rahm Emanuel to ATU local 308 by not allow the continuation of the second chance car cleaner apprentice program at sub par wages. Kevin, I know in the past you have been very critical of the union, but I hope you can find it in your heart to show compassion.

  • On another front, there's yet another change to the Ventra readers.
    Now they will read "Touch Below" instead of "Tap Below". They will also give different messages when read.

    Exactly when will the idiots running the CTA figure out that where the Ventra name is, should be a bullseye & read "Touch Here"? Atrocious & incompetent design, which means either no one there has the slightest inkling of human factors engineering or they're just plain stupid or the most likely reason, both are correct!
    Plus, the new location for the readers on the New Flyers makes the message you see unreadable when it's sunny out.

  • What happenned Kevin? You banned me?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Of countries not iBill. There were site problems early today. Sorry.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Kevin is correct. There was about a 4 hour spell when it wouldn't let me reply to Archijake,and didn't even put up that the moderator has to approve the post. That's why I finally resorted to the "testing" message.

    I would have said that CTA runs, except that the CTA apps staff is much better. The trackers seem dependable.

  • ok Kevin, is there a reason you didn't reply to me? You agree, or disagree?

  • Bill, I'm not sure how I feel about motormen cleaning cars. Certainly if they have to use the bathroom they should be a allowed to do so. But lots of people in work places across the country are being asked to do more things that they never did before. As long as they are getting paid decent bucks to be a janitor, then I'm ok with it.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    The answer to this is what is in the collective bargaining agreement and posted job description. Kelly seems more adept at going to the media than winning grievances.

  • Thank you for your opinion Kevin, you once again proved your lack of respect towards cta workers. Thank you for allwowing them to go to the bathroom, at least you are being more humane then cta mis management. I hope the workers now will realize with the lack of respect they are recieving, they will boycott the so-called holiday train, so come December, you'll have to find something else better to do.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Bill, I'm sorry, but you and the union need to come into the 21st century. As I mentioned, workers across the country are being asked to do jobs they never did before. I don't think it's particularly onerous to ask motormen to pick up large trash on a train.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I agree.
    While I certainly don't expect the motormen to mop up vomit & feces, picking up the newspapers & bags from fast food would be a start.

    And I wish the CTA would force the bus drivers to lower any of the folding seats used for the wheelchair section when they get to the end of the line.
    I've gotten on many buses at their starting point & one or more chairs are still folded up.
    That's just flat out laziness on the driver's part!

  • OK Kevin, name me one transit property besides cta where the operator/motorman are required to clean their trains. Name me one passenger railroad, Amtrak, Metra or otherwise are required to clean their trains. Name me one airline pilot who is required to clean their planes. I'll be waiting for your answer. Which I probably never happen.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    I don't think Kevin's opinion or knowledge is relevant here, as the only things that are relevant is the collective bargaining agreement and posted job description.*

    However, looking at the Salary speadsheet, there is the obvious economic fact that while most Rapid Transit Operators get $31.31/hour, some are getting $21.92. So maybe what other posters say about being fortunate to have a job holds.

    *I noted that one thing not mentioned in the job description for being a Pace bus operator is driving a bus. A lot of collateral duties, though.

  • I changed my mind from the last post. Maybe operators/motoremen should thoroughly clean their trains before leaving the terminal, and don't leave the terminal until it's cleaned, and delay the service. Something to think about while you are waiting for the train in the freezing cold, while the train is delayed being cleaned. You get the service you deserve.

  • Tribune says that ATU and CTA brought back the agreement for the rail cleaner apprentices. I wonder why, but I bet it was that CTA would rather let existing $31.31/hour operators do it in addition to their regular jobs when CTA was not going to hire $25/hour cleaners.

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