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Today’s must-read CTA stories, especially if you’re Gov. Pritzker (Updated)

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Block Club Chicago has a very good story about the death of a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver and the fact that it took the CTA an hour to figure out that she’d gone missing

Antia Lyons, a 14-year driver for the United States’ third-largest transit agency, had suffered a medical emergency while she sat behind the wheel at the start of her bus route. The 63-year-old was later pronounced dead from complications with her heart.

A Block Club Chicago investigation into the circumstances around Lyons’ death raises questions about the safety of CTA drivers as the agency is touting improved working conditions in an attempt to bolster its staff.

Block Club’s reporting found Lyons sat in her bus unconscious for nearly an hour before someone eventually sought help. CTA supervisors neglected to check on her even though the bus never moved and subsequently failed to arrive at more than 50 scheduled stops.

The CTA failed to report the incident to the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Administration despite a state law requiring it. The CTA wouldn’t explain why or answer Block Club’s questions about this incident, saying it was limited by privacy concerns. […]

The CTA also left information of the incident out of public records. For example, the agency provided Block Club with data showing CTA employees who were injured or died on duty over the past six years — but Lyons’ death was not included.

Kilgannon said the data didn’t include Lyons’ death because it didn’t meet the federal definition of “Major Incidents.”

The agency didn’t answer questions about whether it collected data on employee fatalities or injuries that happened due to medical emergencies on the job.

Lyons was also left out of records the CTA provided showing employees with a pension plan who have died in the past five years.

Go read the rest.

* Meanwhile, here’s another CTA story from Block Club Chicago

The CTA’s new rail schedule aims to combat service issues reported by riders across the city — but it doesn’t add trains.

The new “dynamic” rail schedule for the spring and summer went into effect last week with a promise of “gradually increasing” service through the seasons as the agency looks to bring on more rail operators, according to a news release.

The CTA began adding some pre-pandemic bus runs back to its schedule last month, but its new train schedule shows no significant additions, transit advocates and a train operator said. […]

Yonah Freemark, a research director studying transit systems at D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute, said the CTA’s pandemic recovery still trails behind its counterparts in other major U.S. cities, which have increased staff and in some cases expanded rail service. […]

Data shows the CTA’s hiring efforts are being offset by rail operators who choose to quit or transfer to other departments within the agency. One rail operator told Block Club they’re interested in a less demanding role as a supervisor or as a switch or control tower worker.

* And here’s something you may not know…

If Mayor Johnson won’t act, then Gov. Pritzker needs to step up.

…Adding… It’s not quite half. He appoints three of seven members. Still.

       

19 Comments
  1. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 11:43 am:

    I’ve been wondering why the existing City Hall establishment has such a blind spot for Dorval Carter, and the only thing I can come up with is they’ve bought into his primary message: That he can’t fix any of the issues without more money. But regular users have seen services plummet over the years and the constant bad press for CTA have been non-stop over the last two years.

    I don’t know how CTA is going to win over friends to get a massive bailout if no one has faith in how they’re currently managing the agency. There needs to be a massive cultural shift in the organization.


  2. - Sox Fan - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 11:46 am:

    The CTA is a mess with no real signs of improvement. Dorval Carter needs to go. I don’t think Chicagoans are asking for too much to want safe, clean and “mostly” reliable service.


  3. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 11:47 am:

    horrible story. if they just checked that the bus was not arriving per schedule they might have saved her. horrible.


  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 11:50 am:

    ===horrible story===

    The CTA misspelling her name on her memorial plaque encapsulates its ineptness.


  5. - Anon - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    The CTA recently announced “interviews” with riders to identify problems with the CTA. How could it be possible that the agency doesn’t already know rider complaints?


  6. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:00 pm:

    Misspelling name boy that is low and uncaring.
    Maybe Tony Preckwinkle should straighten it out because if you have to wait for the mayor it my be awhile


  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:00 pm:

    ===How could it be possible that the agency doesn’t already know rider complaints? ===

    That was rhetorical, right?


  8. - Monk - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:02 pm:

    Dorval Carter has needed to go for the last 7-8 years. Someone needs to hold him accountable at some point. The CTA has been a train wreck (some pun intended) for long enough.


  9. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:04 pm:

    The Mayor’s Finance Committee chair and co-floor leader is the big Dorval Carter supporter. CTA apparently delivers a lot of decent jobs for the South & West side. He definitely delivered a half decade of work for the building trades by getting the federally matched Red Line Extension (and related City TIF) through.

    So there’s two powerful blocs fine with the status quo on City side. And by all accounts President Carter is an affable delight in person, so I’m resigned to a slowly crumbling service status quo until we get a tragedy on par with the one that forced the Governor to shake up the Prisoner Review Board.

    It’s what happens when you have a system used by almost nobody who oversees it.

    Sincerely,
    Your pal on red line car 5674 which is only a little stinky today (hooray)


  10. - JoanP - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:06 pm:

    How is a death not a “major incident”?


  11. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:08 pm:

    I thought Doval Carter was there because he understood how to get federal funding. That seemed to be the rational back in 2017. Times change, and the operations problems are bad now. CTA can find someone else below the President to manage federal money and bring in someone experienced to fix the operations.


  12. - Baseball - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:26 pm:

    Ineptness is a qualification to work at most city agencies.


  13. - Scooter - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:34 pm:

    Theoretically Carter’s connections at the Federal Transit Administration (a former employer of his) should make him a real asset to the CTA, but his increasingly out-of-touch perception of how things are at street level is making him more of a liability than an asset. Have heard some internal communications from him and there seems to be a distinct lack of awareness on how things are outside of his office.

    Legislation addressing the RTA fiscal cliff will (hopefully) result in one seamless new agency absorbing all responsibilities that CTA, Metra and Pace now provide, but for better or worse, none of those three current agency heads would be great candidates for leading that hypothetical super-agency. Would like to see Dorval gone now, but he may only have 1-2 years left anyway.


  14. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:42 pm:

    I think state funding should be tied to outcomes. The state pays for all of transit’s operating budget (by authorizing and collecting the sales tax). The agencies ought to have an incentive (which then can trickle down to ATU which can adjust their agreements accordingly). On-time performance, service hours, frequency of service — hit the benchmarks, get more money. So Pace and CTA and Metra can compete for dollars by providing more service, instead of just getting formula funds and we hope that their internal governance will figure it out and put out more service.


  15. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 12:45 pm:

    Forgot the obvious measurement: ridership. Currently state law has the incentive to jack up fares as much as possible to hit the farebox recovery ratio. That has the outcome of keeping ridership and growth (and arguable costs) lower. But that’s not what helps. The more riders, the better for everybody (especially anybody trying to drive or in a car in backed up traffic), so the incentive should be more money for more riders. That’s not how state transit law works now.


  16. - Sonny - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 1:35 pm:

    Mayor Johnson finding someone closer to God nominating for appointiment Pastor Michael Eaddy to the CTA Board today. Maybe He can help.


  17. - CornAl DoGooder - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 1:41 pm:

    Rep. Buckner has been right on the CTA from the beginning, it needs a total overhaul to restore it to the service Chicago needs and deserves. That starts with removing Dorval Carter, no question


  18. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 2:34 pm:

    I love how the progressives on social media want to tie funding to performance measures for CTA, but the second someone complains about the Chicago school system not meeting standards and they instantly say the schools need more money to better pay teachers.


  19. - One Time - Wednesday, Apr 17, 24 @ 3:13 pm:

    Issue #3432233 MBJ is failing on.


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