For people who live in a big city like Chicago, Illinois, public transportation options are often their chosen method for navigating around the city. When people ride on these public transit buses and trains, they likely expect that the driver is properly trained and fully competent. While that is usually the case, driver fatigue and other factors can lead to accidents. A recent Chicago Transit Authority accident is a stark reminder that public transit options might not always be safe.
The accident occurred on March 24 when a CTA train was going into the Blue Line O’Hare Station. The operator of the train had dozed off while entering the station. The National Transportation and Safety Board has determined that the train was speeding at 26 mph prior to the accident. The speed of the train meant that the automatic braking system didn’t have enough distance to stop the train. The train hit a bumper at the track’s end and then bounced onto an escalator. Thirty-two people were taken to the hospital because of the early morning accident. Damage to the station and the equipment is estimated at $9 million.
The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union says that the NTSB’s report lets him know that “it wasn’t just human error that created this problem.” He said the woman suffers from emotional distress and was injured in the accident.
The operator of the train, who has since been fired, said that she was tired when she started her third consecutive overnight shift. She said that she had worked almost 60 hours in the seven days leading up to the accident. The CTA administrators verified that the woman worked 55.7 hours during that time frame. The ATU president feels the CTA acted too quickly in firing the woman.
In response to the accident, the CTA moved the trip stop farther from the track’s end and lowered the speed limit going into the airport from 25 mph to 15 mph. It also changed schedules for workers, adding a day off in a period of seven weeks.
Anyone who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, including mass-transit accidents, might have the right to seek compensation for those injuries. Personal injury attorneys help their clients pursue such compensation through the civil court system.
Source: Daily Herald, “Train too fast for brakes to stop crash at O’Hare: report” Marni Pyke, Apr. 07, 2014