Is your CTA bus safe?

December 4, 2008 4:27:34 PM PST
The union for CTA mechanics says layoffs and cutbacks mean buses are not getting proper maintenance. It claims the CTA is putting public safety at risk by putting unsafe buses on the streets. The CTA denies this safety allegation. The agency says all its buses are properly maintained.

CTA buses get a lot of wear and tear, Logging 40,000 to 50,000 miles a year. To keep them in service, the buses need frequent maintenance. But the mechanics' union says there are not enough people to do the job and that the CTA has cut nearly 30 percent of its mechanics staff in the last 13 years, making the work load tougher for other mechanics who may have to make quick repairs to keep buses running.

"A lot of mornings, when they're making the schedule, they do the bare minimum to fix the bus, basically put a band-aid on it," said Dan Hrycyk, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.

Hrycyk says in some cases, buses are put in to use with bad breaks and power-steering problems.

"If there's any defect on a bus that makes it unsafe, we don't put it on the road," said CTA President Ron Huberman.

Huberman says the focus is putting more new buses on the roads. Newer models would have less maintenance issues and would need fewer mechanics. Also, the CTA has installed computers onboard each bus that would diagnose any problems.

"I can say unequivocally we have more safe buses on the street, our buses are breaking less often than they were a year ago and we're doing even more preventative maintenance on our fleet today than we were doing one year ago," Huberman said.

"If you're just saying we don't need to do as much work on a new bus, it's gonna catch up with you," said Hrycyk.

Some CTA riders say they hope any changes in the number of mechanics will not affect their service.

"In Chicago, you get used to it. I don't think it's gonna change anything," said Warren Satchell, CTA rider.

"I think CTA needs to make cuts in administration, not in the people who repair the buses," said Jana Estell, CTA rider.


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