Senior assaulted trying to exit CTA train by bully trying to board

There have been a number of occasions where I have written about a cardinal rule of train riding: Always let passengers disembark, then get on the train. When you don’t, bad stuff can happen – like this assault on a 72-year-old man (in his words).

(Chicago Reader photo by Michael Boyd)

(Chicago Reader photo by Michael Boyd)

As we arrived at my stop, Clinton Street Station, a group of people on the platform crowded in closer to the doors of the El car.  I was next to the door, about to disembark, with three or four other passengers behind me.  As I stepped off the train, a large man moved in front of the door.  With no time and people trying to get off the train behind me, I was propelled forward between the large guy and a departing teenaged girl standing to my left.  I tried to go right between them, and brushed by them both as they closed in to try to get on the train while passengers behind me were still getting off.

The large guy, having basically been touched by a disembarking passenger (me) whose path he had almost effectively blocked, went postal.  He turned from his task of getting on the train before anyone else got off and, using both hands in a rapid running push, he shoved me very hard about ten or twelve feet into the iron fence at the far side of the platform.  Now, I’m not small, but I am white haired and 72 and I’m pretty easy to push around, but I managed to keep my feet as I ended up running headlong into the iron bars.  Others on the platform seemed appalled (though, it being rush-hour, none offered me any assistance either).

I banged my head hard just above my right eye, and hit the fence with my right arm and hand.  I may have pulled a muscle in my left hip—either that, or else it’s going to rain very hard in the next day or so—at my age it’s hard to tell which.  So I ended up this Saturday morning with some minor soreness in my banged-up arm and hand, and a very black eye I can hardly see through.

Now really, this is some bullshit. More from the wounded senior citizen:

I slowly made my way down from the platform, wondering—why has CTA made no apparent effort to effectively inform people that it makes no sense whatever to try to board a train while other passengers are trying to get off.  What possesses departing passengers to actually block train exits in an effort to get on a train before arriving passengers can get off?   Are rush-hour riders so thoughtless that trains really need separate doors for arriving and departing riders, perhaps?  Or can transit police help keep order on platforms at rush-hour?  It is evident, at a minimum, that a firm and effective public education campaign is badly needed.

Good point. I don’t recall any CTA education campaign about how to board a train. But then, it really is common courtesy.

I often exercise my own “education” campaign. There have been times when I might have stepped on the foot of some doofus who tried to board the train as I was exiting.

People, please – wait for riders to exit the train before you board.


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  • At least he didn't brush into the guy with the multicolor sweater who shot up a bus and killed someone over something like that.

    Is the assailant on camera.....?

    And public transit is the preferred choice.....?

  • In reply to jack:

    Still safer than driving.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Aside from the occasional carjacker around 95th and State, I don't think someone is going to slug me coming out of my car, and be stupid enough to do it in a place presumably covered by a security cam.

    As far as it goes, you better not be walking inside a bagel shop or beauty supply shop in Morton Grove, or somebody (allegedly some car) is going to hit you.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I forgot, or be standing in a bus stop or a "food store" at 71st and King Dr.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Kevin O'Neil said, 'Still safer than driving.'

    Seriously? You use the assault of an old man for public transit boosterism? That's REALLY messed up. Tell him to his face.

    Perhaps your recent bereavement is affecting you in some way. That's not unusual. But some time off might be appropriate.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    The last paragraph was unnecessarily cruel.

    The fair thing to say is that, like often is the case, he accepted (on March 25, 2014) some transit advocacy group's take on the statistics, while other sources, such as Car and Driver, had a much different take on apparently the same study. Looks like one has 3 times the chance per million miles to be killed by a transit bus than a passenger vehicle or light truck, a little higher by heavy rail. than car or truck

    However, I think that the odds of getting electrocuted by the third rail (like one of the twins from Glenview did at Howard) is heck of a lot higher on transit than car. At least Chicago doesn't have light rail, which transit advocates love, but apparently is extremely deadly per million miles.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    Why, it's accurate?

  • In reply to chris:

    Apparently, in the 3 minutes it took this defective software to post my last post, Car and Driver demonstrated that it was not. Sorry that the server is so slow.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    First, thank you to Jack for having my back during my "bereavement."

    Second, I refer you to my post that Jack alluded to where a transit policy institute noted public transit is safer than driving.

    Finally, if you want to bring up my recently deceased mother, let me mention that she was injured in two auto accidents during her 83 years on this earth. But she was never injured in a public transit accident. She took a bus to work all 40-plus years that she worked, and she never owned a car.

  • In reply to Nate Whilk:

    That's a low blow, Nate. Totally not necessary. Have you ever lost a parent? You should apologize.

  • In reply to mulder42:

    Thank you Mulder.

  • That kind of behavior is going to get someone killed.

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    Maybe it's time to bring back the conductors :-)

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    Do we really need a campaign from CTA to tell people how ti fu#*ing board a train/bus? Are we going backward? Isn't this just common sense?

    Nobody has ever taught me to wait on the side of the door ti let people get off before the entry is clear for people to get on the train/bus.

    And since I am at it, another annoying thing, this time from people who disembark from a bus/train, is when they stay seated until the doors are open and people are getting in. Is it hard to get ready when the train/bus approaches the stop, so that we make the operation fast and easy and everyone will benefit from it?

  • In reply to Cirano:

    Maybe the obvious question based on your first paragraph is whether that kind of idiot would listen to any campaign.

    Like I implied in my first post, if someone is going to shoot up a bus with cameras and not be deterred by life in prison, apparently your average denizen of the L isn't going to figure this out. Did the "Don't be like Jack" campaign accomplish anything other than offending me? Do they have to put up car cards saying "don't puke, pee, or sh-- here?"

  • In reply to Cirano:

    In some people's defense, it's not always possible to be at the door the moment it opens. Let's say you are carrying two heavy bags, one in each hand. Let us further stipulate you are not a spring chicken. You need to go out the front door because it won't be a giant step down to the ground. The bus is moving jerkily as it approaches the stop, and you can sense this driver will brake hard. Because it's the front of the bus, there are not handholds within reach to get you securely from where you sit to the door. What do you do?

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    In reply to CCWriter:

    I'm sorry I wasn't clear. I was referring to those people who can actually stand up and be ready to disembark in a timely manner, not to those who have heavy bags or are elderly.

    I also agree that many drivers don't drive smoothly at all (it happens on trains as well) and I cannot understand if it's them that are not really great, or if the CTA that is trying to save money by not replacing breaks that are maybe worn out.

  • In reply to Cirano:

    Maybe we do, Cirano. Something on that automatic message thingy--I don't know what its called. It tells you not to lean on doors, not to block empty seats, give up the 'priority seats' to seniors and people with disabilities, etc. Surely that could be added, or would that be too expensive for the CTA? :evilgrin: I don't know if it would help, but just maybe, if people hear it long
    enough, they'll get the message.

    Also, I can't tell you how many times I've seen people do this on the buses (and I'm also referring to able-bodied persons) who can get up early enough. They actually wait until the bus comes to a complete STOP before getting up, then rushing to get off. Sometimes they're too late, and the driver takes off. I get a kick out of that; they totally deserve to miss their stop.

  • It's not common courtesy, it's common sense. Something that is full requires some of the occupants to leave before more can get on. Especially true at rush hour. I also dislike people who do this on elevators.

  • It should be noted that Clinton/Lake is a wretchedly laid out station.
    This is possibly, the CTA's only Politically Correct station. Because the stairs are near the east ends of the platforms & the insanely long ramps for the handicapped are at the west ends, the idiots running the CTA have put the stop marks for the four car trains, directly in the middle of the two exit points.
    So what happens is that you have a large number of people near the stairs, who then rush the first car of EB trains, because it usually stops west of the stairway.
    The proper location for the stop marks would be farther east, so that the stairs were closer to the middle of the trains.
    But apparently all the CTA cares about are the 12 people who use the ramp every day, so they've made it easier for them to catch the last car.

    I don't want to discount the problems the handicapped have, but it's apparent they don't like that long ramp & go to another station that doesn't have the ramp, but an elevator.
    Also some bike riders that use the L have discovered the ramp & like to ride down it. Fast!

    I'm also baffled, why the CTA didn't build a direct entrance into their HQ next door for their employees to use.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The last one is easy to answer: It has been documented that CTA employees use handicap placards to park free. Why should they take the L with the proletariat?

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