Chicago Sun-Times

CTA Driver Mad Over Cell Policy

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I heard from a bus driver this morning who's angry over the CTA's new policy of firing drivers caught using cell phones. The driver who called said the radio system on the bus is frequently broken down, so drivers are left with no alternative but to call the Control Center or 911 using a personal cell phone in case of emergency. The driver said other drivers are saying that if the radio doesn't work, they plan to just sit there in their disabled bus waiting until the supervisor comes to find them.

"I'm not going to walk looking for a pay phone," the driver said. "I'm going to wait for the supervisor to come find me. The radios don't always work.... We're out here like sitting ducks."

The bus driver's complaint echoes remarks made by Darrell Jefferson, head of the CTA bus drivers union, who said that since the transit agency is going to ban personal cell phone use, it should also make sure the CTA's bus communication equipment works properly.

"Based on what our [members] tell us, the system is down more than it's working," Jefferson said.

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When you allow personnel to get away with a violation for too long, eventually the employees feel as though a right is being taken from them. That is why it it is an uproar. CTA should have corrected this a long time ago.

First and foremost, CTA needs to retrain all its personnel as to what their job tasks and duties are.

If any mass transit operator thinks it is okay to be distracted by using cell phones, they shouldn't have the job.

If any mass transit operator does not understand the difference in curbing a bus when it breaks down, and at that point proceed to use their cell phone ONLY, AND ONLY IF the CTA's communication phone is disabled, this person shouldn't have the job.

If any mass transit operator have not understood that they are moving thousands of people around daily, and that their passenger's safety is key to doing their job, this person shouldn't have the job.

By Ms. J on August 8, 2009 12:36 PM

This is ridiculous. Why can't they be required to use a hand-free kit. What's the difference with driving in a car, listening to music, and using the kit? Nothing.

Ms. J, the difference is a car seats at most four to six people. And if you haven't paid attention lately, a lot of accidents are happening because car drivers are talking & texting on phones, not being attentive to their driving regardless of the situtation, and bouncing up down to music instead of driving defensively.

Mass transit operators are paid decent money to move people from one destination to the other without endangering them. Why is that so hard to understand? Why should I be on a bus with a driver holding a cell phone to their head hold up by their shoulder and trying to make a turn at the same time. -I HAVE SEEN THIS TOO MANY TIMES!!!- The bus drivers position is only stationary far as seating, but everything else is moving. Mass Transit Drivers need to be alert at all times. The El operators are standing while driving - faster at times than others - and moving from side to side in the compartment to open the doors! What in the heck do you need a cell phone for?

It is amazing a worker for CTA responds childish and states, "I will wait until the supervisor come finds me!" because they can not use a cell phone while working.

Office workers who used computers have the Internet BLOCKED or at least some sites, because others misused the privilege, by going to unwarranted web sites or leaving lewd and lascivious documents on the hard drive. In other words the computer is used only for work!

The reason CTA is doing this because TOO MANY MASS TRANSIT OPERATORS are DRIVING and TEXTING & TALKING on CELL PHONES while at work! Just because an individual is in the field does not mean they can stop being unprofessional in doing their job.


Anyone, please explain to me this. If a CTA Mass Transit Operator receives an emergency call, what the heck are they going to do? Turn the bus or el around and drive it to their house, hospital or their child's school?


Good work Dave goldberg you let streets & san radio system degrade itself with no upgrades and improvements for over 25 years and now you have let the CTA system fall into the same trap.

Most of Steets & Sans radio system is running on infrastructure from 1975.

juris doctor i pray that i am that bus driver

drivers can't pull over because they are on a schedule. The reason the phones are getting banned in the first place is because too many drivers are on the phone with personal calls. ITS CALLED

Mary, I think your driver has the new rules wrong - and you do your readers (and your reputation) a disservice not pointing it out before you post this.

Bus operators are allowed to carry their personal cell phones.
They are not allowed to use them - whether for texting or making calls while they are on-duty.
The exception is if there is an emergency or the vehicle is disabled. They are then to pull the bus over, put it in park, and then call the control center.
At all other times the cell phone must be stowed away in a a purse/ backpack/bag and turned off.
This means they can't answer a call from their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/child while they are driving. Good. I've driven those buses and you need your full attention and both hands on the wheel.

The rules are significantly stricter for rail operators - and they have a valid gripe.
Rail operators can't even have them in their possession while on duty - not even if they are off and in a backpack.

While I agree no bus or rail operator should ever use a phone/blackberry while operating, it's unfair not to let the rail operators carry their phones with them, though stowed away, while on duty. This means they can't even use their phones on their lunch breaks.

Maybe the griping bus operator should read the bulletin or the CTA's press release before commenting.

This is ridiculous. Why can't they be required to use a hand-free kit. What's the difference with driving in a car, listening to music, and using the kit? Nothing.

If a bus driver in a disabled bus is going to sit and wait for a supervisor to find him/her when I am on that bus, they are going to have a lot more problems than worrying about getting fired over using their cell phone

Why can't a bus driver pull over safely to make a call in case of emergency? And if the bus is disabled, that likely means it's not moving and so using the cell phone wouldn't be a violation, right? This sounds like sour grapes, which is a shame because a bus driver of all people should understand the dangers of motorists using phones or other electronic devices while driving.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on August 7, 2009 3:16 PM.

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