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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    When Chicago Transit Authority driver runs light, you pay...only in Chicago

    Chicago Transit Authority buses were photographed blowing through red traffic signals almost 1,200 times last year, while the drivers of Pace buses, paratransit vehicles and van pools racked up more than 100 red-light-running citations in 2008, according to the agencies.

    It's enough to make bus riders grab for the nearest hanging strap and for taxpayers as well as transit customers -- who are paying higher fares this year -- to see red.

    Under a new CTA policy, the agency is paying the $100 fine for each red-light violation instead of requiring bus drivers who broke the law to hand over the cash.

    The change was made in part because of pressure from the bus drivers union in response to the proliferation of red-light cameras across the city, officials said.

    They added, however, that it's now easier to mete out discipline because the CTA has access to the photos and video footage of the violations.

    The number of citations issued to CTA buses for running red lights at photo-enforced intersections jumped from 641 in 2007 to 1,194 last year, according to statistics the CTA provided based on a Tribune request.

    Bus drivers say they are under increased pressure to keep on schedule, but CTA officials said there is no excuse for aggressive or dangerous driving.

    Twenty-one CTA bus drivers were responsible for more than one red-light violation in 2008. One driver accumulated four tickets, officials said.

    In addition, CTA vehicles that do not collect fares, such as cars and trucks, received 75 red-light tickets last year.

    Pace reported 102 red-light citations in 2008. The total includes 60 bus violations, 22 tickets issued to van-pool vehicles and 20 paratransit vehicles failing to stop for red lights, records show. Pace's total for all categories in 2007 was 52 red-light tickets, including 36 to buses.

    Pace's smaller total reflects the comparative size of its operations and the fact that the suburbs have not caught up to Chicago's aggressive campaign to blanket accident-prone intersections with red-light cameras.

    Unlike CTA employees, Pace drivers are responsible for all fines related to traffic offenses, Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.

    CTA officials said that action against bus drivers who disobey red lights can be taken more swiftly because the agency no longer must request that the city reissue red-light tickets to individual bus drivers.

    Under the previous policy, drivers had the option of either paying the fine or going to court to protest the ticket, delaying CTA disciplinary action until a final determination was made, officials said.

    The old rule requiring drivers to pay their own fines was scrapped last fall "due to objections from the union and the CTA's wish to streamline a cumbersome process to strengthen enforcement," CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said.

    The CTA is permitted to use public funds to pay the fines under the Illinois Vehicle Code's section on "automated traffic law enforcement system," which authorizes municipalities to issue citations to the registered owners of vehicles that run red lights.

    At the CTA and Pace, each violation sparks an internal investigation that can lead to driver retraining and a series of progressive disciplinary actions, from a written warning to dismissal, officials said.

    Running red lights is not condoned under any circumstances, including to get tardy buses back on schedule, transit officials said.

    "Bus operators are professional drivers, and they are taught defensive driving," Gaffney said. "When they are approaching an intersection, they are supposed to be covering the brake [pedal with their foot], and if they see the yellow light, they should be prepared to bring the bus to a safe stop."

    The increase in violations represents a worsening trend, with only 239 red-light tickets against CTA bus drivers issued in 2005. However, it is possible that the incidence of red-light-running by bus drivers is simply now coming to light because of stepped-up photo enforcement.

    In any case, it appears to pose a significant risk to CTA bus passengers, as well as to put occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians directly in the cross hairs of bus drivers racing through red lights.

    A red-light violation is recorded only if the vehicle in question moves past the stop line painted in the pavement after the traffic signal has turned to a solid red. Although no accidents resulted from the CTA or Pace violations, a large, heavy bus entering an intersection when cross traffic has already been given the green light can lead to serious collisions and injuries.

    Asked to respond to comments from bus drivers that sudden stops could cause injury to bus passengers, Gaffney said the drivers are "trained to avoid driving in a manner that would cause them to stop suddenly."

    Although red-light violations involving CTA buses are rising, CTA officials found comfort in the number of accidents going down.

    CTA officials downplayed the increase in lead-footed driving, saying that traffic accidents involving CTA buses decreased from 2,835 in 2007 to 2,471 incidents last year.

    "The CTA provided a total of 9.6 million bus runs in 2008. That means buses received one red-light citation for every 8,063 trips made," Gaffney said.

    The City of Chicago has deployed red-light cameras at 113 intersections, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. About 50 more intersections with a history of high accident rates are slated to get cameras this year, officials said.

    A total of $109 million has been collected since the red-light enforcement program started in November 2003, according to the Chicago Department of Revenue.

    There were 579,560 red-light tickets issued in 2008, said Ed Walsh, a spokesman for the Revenue Department. Collections for 2008 totaled $44.8 million, he said.


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    bus drivers union
    Are you kidding me?

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  3. #3
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    I'm with the drivers on this one. It isn't their fault. Their superiors (Who sit behind desks all day, sound like anyone else you know?), don't understand that these ridiculous schedules can't be met by following traffic laws. So drivers either get reprimanded for running behind schedule. So they speed, but get away with that because few cops will write them for 5 over. And they cut late yellow lights, or reds when no one is around. Sure it isn't safe, but faced with losing my job, damn right I'd be doing the same thing. And with an ever tightening job market, the drivers are disposable. Anything to keep off the radar.

    I guarantee you the administration says "We do not condone the breaking of traffic laws in any cases."

    I also guarantee you, the next morning in the driver's meeting, "A few of you are having problems keeping to your route times. Get on track, or get out."

    This is not an employee problem, this is a supervisory problem.

  4. #4
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    Another example of how unions are destroying this country. As if the Automotive bailout wasn't enough.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

  5. #5
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    Yet another means by which the taxpayer bears the burden of the irresponsible.

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
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  6. #6
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    Reckless Driving might get their attention, unless the DA and Courts are also Union Shops. Reckless disregard may be the approach the personal injury lawyers may use to enhance the $$$ if someone gets hurt. But if it the whole town is a Union Shop, where to file it, or select a jury? Can riders on buses file citizen affidavit criminal complaints thru the DA?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyy View Post
    I'm with the drivers on this one. It isn't their fault.
    That's one of the five dumbest statements I've seen on a police forum.

    If the union can force the authority to pay their tickets, you really believe they'll let some guy get canned for not keeping a schedule?

    Maybe if you got smacked in an intersection by one of these buses, you'd look at it a bit differently......

    I don't blame the unions as much as I do the authority that allows that kind of crap in collective bargaining. It's easier to roll over and pay out tax dollars than to stand up to them.

    I can't argue that a lot of unions are out of control, but I'm sitting here today with a pretty good pension because of my union. I don't agree with everything they do, but I'll compare my pay, benefits and now retirement with anyone who's non union anytime.....
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyy View Post
    I'm with the drivers on this one. It isn't their fault.
    I'll have to quite agree with Retdet here.

    Who's driving the bus, the unions?

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  9. #9
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    Typical leftist mentality- it's always someone else's fault. SOCIETY WAS DRIVING THOSE BUSES, CB!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    SOCIETY WAS DRIVING THOSE BUSES, CB!
    It takes a village!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    That's one of the five dumbest statements I've seen on a police forum.

    If the union can force the authority to pay their tickets, you really believe they'll let some guy get canned for not keeping a schedule?

    Maybe if you got smacked in an intersection by one of these buses, you'd look at it a bit differently......

    I don't blame the unions as much as I do the authority that allows that kind of crap in collective bargaining. It's easier to roll over and pay out tax dollars than to stand up to them.

    I can't argue that a lot of unions are out of control, but I'm sitting here today with a pretty good pension because of my union. I don't agree with everything they do, but I'll compare my pay, benefits and now retirement with anyone who's non union anytime.....
    Not a single one of the red light running buses has caused an accident yet, so I'm fairly confident in saying they cut the red lights intentionally, and safely (As safe as it can be done). They do it at specific times, in specific locations, for specific reasons. And don't even try and say they do it because they care about getting to the next stop quickly. They couldn't care less. They do it to keep the bosses from noticing. Because if they run 5 minutes late, their boss knows byt he end of the day, probably sooner. They cut a red light, and it's a month or two later before anyone finds out. I'm with the Union here, I'd make the Transit Authority pay the citations too. Because the drivers aren't running red lights for the fun of it, they do it so the Transit Authority isn't busting their a$$ on schedule times.

    Let me relate this to you all. Response times. Most departments aren't exactly excelling in this area. Imagine your department is short staffed, imagine your pending calls line up as the night goes on. If your department is like most, this isn't even an imagination--it's reality. But the citizens are up in arms over it. They are sick of waiting 4 hours for an Officer to take a burg report. But the Sergeants just won't let it slide, they are breathing down your neck night and fvcking day, CLEAR CALLS FASTER, GET THERE FASTER. Now imagine your job is replaceable, easily. They fire you, your replacement is cheaper, and can start with only a week's worth of training. It's economically beneficial to put you out of a job. But you've got a few kids, you've got a wife, and you've got monthly bills. You absolutely NEED that income. If you can sit back and tell me you wouldn't break rules to keep off the radar, you're lying your a$$ off. You are all some of the most ethical people in the world, but at some point, family comes first. So you cut a few red lights. So you blow a few stop signs. You drive 15-20 over. Some of you do it for the pride you have in your department, some do it to keep the response times down, to keep off the radar. It isn't the Officer's fault. It's whoever is driving the pressure. The same can be said about contact quotas. Anytime you pressure employees to do more, and it's a job they need, they will break rules to keep the supervisement off their back. It'd be foolish of us to act like we wouldn't when in the same situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    Typical leftist mentality- it's always someone else's fault. SOCIETY WAS DRIVING THOSE BUSES, CB!
    I'm pointing fault, just not at the drivers. They, and very reasonably so, will do anything to keep their jobs. If your job was as replaceable as their's, if your set of skills were no valuable than anyone else's, and with the job market the way it is, you'd cut a few red lights if it meant keeping your job too. We can't blame them for doing what it takes to keep food on the table. We've all had jobs like that. Luckily mine were during high school and college, and I didn't really need the job, so I did my own thing, stood up for what I felt was right. Bet your a$$ it put me on the radar. I was written up more than any of the other guys, and I caused the most problems. But my life didn't depend on me having a job the next day. For a lot of those drivers, it does.

  12. #12
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyy View Post
    Let me relate this to you all. Response times. Most departments aren't exactly excelling in this area. Imagine your department is short staffed, imagine your pending calls line up as the night goes on. If your department is like most, this isn't even an imagination--it's reality. But the citizens are up in arms over it. They are sick of waiting 4 hours for an Officer to take a burg report. But the Sergeants just won't let it slide, they are breathing down your neck night and fvcking day, CLEAR CALLS FASTER, GET THERE FASTER. Now imagine your job is replaceable, easily. They fire you, your replacement is cheaper, and can start with only a week's worth of training.
    Bullshit. I've worked when we were short, if the citizens get up in arms, they have to go to city hall, not the police. I'd catch just much more hell if I shortchanged a citizen by not doing what they needed on a call. Besides, the authority CAN change the schedule and probably would if everyone had trouble making it. That schedule wasn't written by God. It's just an excuse. The union is giving the drivers a free ride on going though red lights.

    And again, if the union can force the authority to make them pay fines, I seriously doubt the authority has the clout to fire anyone for that. That would be even more of a public relations nightmare than the taxpayers paying the fines.

    Besides, notice my moniker, I'm a retired Sgt. It's to my advantage to have experienced people out there. Setting up a situation where they will fail would be an incredibly dumb thing to do. The authority just finds it easier to pay the fines and push the drivers. Everyone has to sit back and start obeying the law like everyone else does. If the drivers had to pay their own fines, I strongly believe that the system would settle down. Right now it's just feeding itself and costing the taxpayers.

    But heavens knows there's no corruption in Chicago and the unions, is there?
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  13. #13
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    There have been a fair amount of accidents involving DART buses in Dallas. Granted, it's usually cars trying to get past the big yellow roadblocks, but that's because they stop on every corner impeeding traffic during rush hour, which just makes traffic even worse. There have also been some hot-rodding bus drivers who caused accidents.

    Personally, I think it'd be cheaper and better to buy every bus rider a little $10,000 car and open up the HOV lanes to everyone than support the DART system, but I recognize that some cities like Chicago were never designed to drive or park a car in, whereas Dallas is.

    The DART ridership was pretty high when our gas prices were pushing toward $4 per gallon, but normally a lot of the busses I see driving around are nearly empty. The little DART trains running from Plano to Dallas are popular, but they have been involved in deadly accidents too, because there's so many grade crossings.

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  14. #14
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    There have been a fair amount of accidents involving DART buses in Dallas. Granted, it's usually cars trying to get past the big yellow roadblocks, but that's because they stop on every corner impeeding traffic during rush hour, which just makes traffic even worse. There have also been some hot-rodding bus drivers who caused accidents.
    The transit system here is pretty good. But bus drivers pay their own fines and accidents can get them canned, not being late. They don't have anymore accidents than what you would expect with that many vehicles on the road and the amount of traffic they have to contend with.

    I used to ride the bus to work when I could. I got home a lot more relaxed than when I drove.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    The transit system here is pretty good. But bus drivers pay their own fines and accidents can get them canned, not being late. They don't have anymore accidents than what you would expect with that many vehicles on the road and the amount of traffic they have to contend with.

    I used to ride the bus to work when I could. I got home a lot more relaxed than when I drove.....
    I must confess, I have also ridden a bus (to the State Fair, because their parking is like being in downtown Chicago)

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  16. #16
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    I can somewhat relate to this discussion. A couple of my previous jobs have been working for a couple of different pizza delivery chains as a delivery driver. Specifically one company that comes to mind used to advertise that they would have your order to your door within 30 minutes or it was free. I think we all know who that was. This is a national chain of stores.

    It takes on the average about 10 minutes to prepare and cook a pizza, therefore leaving 20 minutes for the driver to get it to the customers door. Of course the stores were always trying to figure out how far they could expand their delivery area so they could get more customers. Management used to ride us something fierce. Lose too many orders and you were gone.

    I remember telling one manager that I would deliver my orders as safely, lawfully and timely as I possibly could, and I never lost an order. I also told him that he had better get someone with a knowledge of the delivery area to start routing orders together so we could take more orders in one trip. If I lost an order I told him that I would pay it out of my own pocket. Fortunately that never happened. I also told him to hire more drivers and quit trying to cut costs against safety. I never got a ticket or caused an accident in all my years of driving. I also knew the delivery area like the back of my hand.

    If the driver gets a ticket or causes an accident do you think the Pizza company paid the fines? Hell no, that was on the driver. But yet the company still wanted to preach safety. It got so bad over the years in some cities that I believe this national chain was forced to change their 30 minutes or free policy, and rightfully so, especially if they kept widening the delivery area.

    If this union was smart they would step in for the drivers and tell management and supervisors to quit harassing their employees to break traffic laws to get their jobs done. Of course the company would never come right out and say that they were forcing their drivers to break laws but if it takes X amount of time to get to a destination safely, they need to quit trying to shave off a few minutes just for more money. The supervisors need to get out from behind their desks and go out with the drivers in the middle of rush hour and see for them selves what they are forcing their drivers to do, and exactly how much time it takes to complete a task and not waver from it..

    Nothing is worth risking your life or the life of someone else. If the employee has problems with this he needs to find a different line of work.


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