Chicago Sun-Times

Where were you when the Blue Line failed?

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If anyone was on the Blue Line today when the trains had to stop in the tunnel, please share your story. The CTA is saying the initial delay was caused by a mechanical failure on a train just north of Clark and Lake, but that the major delay was caused because some people in a train north of the disabled train decided to get off the train on their own, which forced the CTA to turn off power to protect them. If you were there, we'd love to hear from you.

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I was on the train that the motorman was "yelling" at people that exited onto the catwalk. First let me say that we were on that train for at least 45 mins. With NO electricity, 90 degree tempatures, wall to wall people, stuck in the same spot before anyone decided to exit the train. I was on the second car so you could see the people walking on the cat walk trying to get information from the operator because his english was so bad you couldn't understand him. All he kept saying was "I know this is very stressful" over and over again witch made matters even worst. After about 35 mins. into the ordeal there was a woman on the train that had called her brother that is a CTA employee, He said that the fire department was on there way. No Fire Department ever showed up or any CTA personel at our train. The first people that left the train kept walking back and forth not knowing witch way to go meaning, should they go to Grand or Lake street, There was so much confusion, that I just stayed on the train until the operator told us witch way to go. Walking on the catwalk was not easy, it was wet and dark, not to mention that there were signs that you had to go around. After about walking for 500 yards is when I first saw a CTA employee telling people to walk ahead about a block and a half to the exit. We came to a stair case that was about 4 flights. By this time I thought I was going to have a "heart attack" I was already hyperventilating, and then to walk up 4 flights with all this black dust flying around I couldn't breath. I thought "O My God" please give me the strenght. As I made my way up the winding stair case there were older people at the landings out of breath, I felt so sorry for them, because they couldn't make it up. Once I made it to the top there still was no emergency team there to help anyone or CTA Employees!! We were on our own, not knowing where I was I just followed the crowd. I caught the train at the Logan Square station at about 8:05am I got to street level at 11:00am.

I was on the blue line train that was stuck behind the disabled train. We were stuck in the tunnel between the Clark/Lake and Grand stops. We got stuck around 8:15-8:20 and for the next hour and forty minutes we kept hearing from the conductor with a thick accent that the train was going to be moving shortly once the train ahead of us was repaired. But everyone thought this was ridiculous how could they keep us down there for so long and expect us to wait patiently. I did hear the conductor yell out and call everyone stupid for getting out of the train. I do agree it was not very professional to talk to people like that but he was desperate, and did not want see people get hurt. He also wanted to probably save his cushy, high paying job as well. I also believe it was irresponsible of the people to leave the train but I don't blame them because there was no communication or timeframe of when they were going to let us out. I believe if those people did not walk out of the train, the CTA might still have us down there waiting. It is a horrible example of a BADLY run government transit organization. How can they in good concious want to raise the CTA fares when they can't even run the company.

I was unfortuanately stuck on that Blue Line Monday, and as many people thought it was amusing to get stuck on the trains UNDERGROUND, I found it somewhat scary. When they tried to connect the two trains, we heard a loud booming noise and then a crash and our doors opened, I had never been so scared in my whole life. It was the longest 2 hours EVER! Although the passengers were in good spirits, it was still a scary experience. Walking out of the trains with the smallest platform ever was an experience in itself. It was hard to walk in some spots which was pitch black and some spots that was wet, or had to manuver around a light, or a sign. I believed the CTA did an OK job. But we waited to long to evacuate the trains. I truly hope no one has to ever go through what we went through that day.

I was stranded at the Clinton stop going toward downtown. We sat there for about 15 minutes. At about 9:00, the train operator told everyone to get off the train and take buses above ground. As I got upstairs, I saw people paying to get on the train. No one told them that the trains weren't running. I tried to ask the customer service attendant a question about which bus to take. Her attitude was so horrible that I just said forget it. Everyone went upstairs looking as confused as I did. There weren't any shuttle buses. I asked a bus driver which bus would take me to the Clark/Lake area. Everyone had to figure out how to get to work and we had to pay another fare.

I was on the train that got stuck for 40 min in the tunnel. We were told that there would be a 5 min. delay that turned into a 45 min. delay with no explanation other than there is a defective train at clark and lake. Though the train was full to capacity, people were pleasant considering the circumstances. When we were finaly told that there was no information regarding how much longer the delay would take people rightfully got off the train. How long are people supposed to wait for some sort of explaination? The train was hot, stuffy, and unless you had a seat it was very uncomfortable. The CTA is a joke and so are the people who want to place blame on the passengers who left in an attempt to get to their jobs.

I was on the train where the motorman yelled repeatedly about people being "stupid". While this was certainly the case, the only information we got out of this employee in that first hour before people started getting were garbled, static-y messages about the disabled car, in barely intelligible English. Nothing about evacuation plans, nothing about a timeline to when this might happen. His answer to the emergency communication calls about the woman having diabetic issues was simply that paramedics were on the way, which didn't actually happen until over an hour later when we were on our way OUT of the tunnel. Obviously, one the biggest problems w/ the CTA is the utter lack of communication skills of most its employees. I've asked station agents at Damen why the trains are running late when there are people overflowing on the platform and the response is a disinterested shrug. Another motorman drives passengers nuts with about 10 "THE DOORS ARE CLOSING !" admonitions at every. single. stop. God help us if there is an *actual* emergency. Elderly and disabled passengers are going to be in real trouble - cf the $1million+ that the CTA just doled out to the woman from the 2006 derailment. Huberman seems to think that posting agents in yellow vests outside stations repeating "We're really, really sorry !" makes everything a-OK.

And don't get me started about the prehistoric equipment. The car that fell apart on Tuesday was 40 years old and there are going to be others. We have our idiot elected officials to thank for this -- Daley, Madigan, Blago, all the way back to Govs Thompson and Ryan. You're all at fault. You're all responsible for this mess. Check your egos at the door and forget about the stupid Olympics. There are bigger problems in Chicago. Spend the hundreds of millions on the schools (make EVERY school a 'magnet' school, idiots), public transport and parks. We're kidding ourselves if we think that the public isn't going to be on the hook for the Olympics no matter what anyone says. Daley will just find a scapegoat somewhere and live will go on as usual.

I got stranded at the UIC/Halsted stop. We all had to figure out a way to get to work, there were no shuttle buses. What I saw that really ticked me off was, as we were going up the ramp towards the street there must have been about 10 or 15 people coming down the ramp that just paid for their ride and were allowed to come down......unbelievable! We told the people coming down the ramp that the trains were not running and head back up.....a lady cussed out the attendant up on the upper level telling her/him that did she know that the trains weren't running and she let her pass right on by?????? The attendant said, "I don't know what's going on". Can you believe that??????? unreal.

Similar stuff happened here in San Francisco. Transit operators and airlines need to get over the idea that passengers are hostages to do with as they wish. When I step on a train there is no sign saying "warning you may be indefinitly detained at our whim". For the normal passenger in good health this is annoying, for someone with a panic disorder, incontinence, or a weak heart it could have anything from highly embarrassing to lethal consequences. On a packed train it would be hard to even find room to lay down a passenger who feinted.
>> When things are broken for long periods subway operators either need to perform an orderly evacuation, or manually operate trains to a point where passengers can get off. In this case its almost certain the train behind the disabled train could have gently nudged it forward and let its passengers off, or returned to the prior station.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on April 15, 2008 1:57 PM.

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