The CTA says first-year operator Brittney Haywood failed to show at a disciplinary hearing earlier this week, and then was given an ultimatum to respond by 9 a.m. Friday morning. She didn't. She is now fired because of the O'Hare Blue line crash 12 days ago during which Haywood fell asleep at the controls, and for an incident in February in which she also admitted nodding off and failed to make a proper station stop. We were unable to reach Haywood for comment.
No one was seriously injured when Blue Line Run 141 crashed into the end of the O'Hare Airport platform and climbed the escalator on March 24, 2014. Haywood told NTSB investigators she had dozed off at the controls during the early morning shift. In February, Haywood overrode a station when she closed her eyes. That was her first offense, CTA officials said.
Haywood had finished training to be a train operator in December.
A week ago, her union president said Haywood, as an extra board member, had worked a lot of overtime the week before the crash, and because of shifts at different ends of the clock, operator fatigue was likely a contributing factor in the crash.
The CTA disputed that, saying Haywood had 18 hours off before her accident shift. Still, the CTA announced Friday that it's changing how it schedules its train operators. Operators can run trains no longer than 12 hours. That's not often done, but now it's codified. The required rest time between shifts is now increased to 10 hours. It used to be eight. At least one day off is required in any seven day period. Haywood did have a day off the week before the crash, but it wasn't mandatory. And operators in their first-year on the job, as Haywood was, are allowed to run trains a maximum of 32-hours a week.
The CTA says its work rules have followed long established scheduling practices, but the accident sparked a review and further tightening. CTA president Forrest Claypool saying "there were changes we could make that are appropriate and that further maximize safety for our customers and for our employees."
The CTA declined our request for an on camera interview. A spokesman said the O'Hare accident prompted a holistic review of scheduling, and that the changes are not coming about because Brittney Haywood was too tired from too much work. The union president has not responded to Eyewitness News' calls or texts.