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CTA: Safety is the No. 1 priority

June 24, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye | RedEye

Two CTA bus drivers were attacked last week, reportedly by CTA riders, but the CTA says it has seen fewer incidences of violence against its employees than it did last year.

The CTA said it has recorded 11 incidents against CTA employees so far this year. There were 26 last year.

"Obviously we'd like the number to be zero. Fortunately, those numbers aren't very high when you think about the volumes of buses and drivers we put out each day," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "Two in a week is definitely out of the ordinary."

A 32-year-old man was charged with aggravated battery to a transit employee and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm after he allegedly threw hot coffee on a bus driver he said didn't stop to pick him up Friday.

Meanwhile, a 33-year-old man was charged with aggravated battery of a transit employee and criminal sexual abuse after he reportedly molested a bus driver as she drove Wednesday.

CTA bus drivers and train operators are provided basic security training, including how to handle an unruly passenger and what to do in an emergency, Steele said. They also learn protocol on how to diffuse conflicts with riders.

The operators are taught how to use different security features, including the emergency communications system, which is like a silent alarm that allows operators to discreetly tell the CTA control center there's an issue. Also, all CTA buses are equipped with up to 10 cameras.

Most buses also have a clear barrier to protect CTA bus drivers. The buses that don't have the barrier are being phased out, Steele said.

The CTA said it's reviewing the details of both incidents last week. In the meantime, bus drivers have regular "rap sessions" at CTA garages to discuss issues, such as safety and security, and whether there's a problem along their route.

"Safety and security is our No. 1 priority. Not only for our customers but for our operators as well," Steele said.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Kimball Brown Line

While some end-of-line stations are major transportation hubs that serve as busy transfer points (think: Midway Orange Line and Howard Red Line stations), the Kimball Brown Line stop is much less imposing. Only three bus lines drop off at the Albany Park stop, compared to a half-dozen CTA buses at the Howard stop. The best feature of the Kimball station is the complete weather-protection along the platforms—though there's typically already a waiting train. The worst part is riders are not sure exactly when the train will depart. Train trackers for end-of-line stations rely on the train's schedule, not its GPS, to inform riders when the train is leaving the station because the train is already at the station.

Next up: Damen Brown Line

tswartz@tribune.com

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