CTA workers, riders call for access to testing, safety equipment as COVID-19 concerns rise

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ridership on the CTA is down, but safety concerns are growing with no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some trains and buses are still running full with passengers, while riders and drivers are worried about their health.

As a home care worker, Andrea Johnson takes public transportation to get to her clients. She worries about staying healthy as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

"I cover myself. I have my gloves on. I have my mask on. I stay my distance from and just do what I got to do and just pray," Johnson said.

Keeping her distance while riding the bus can be a challenge, depending on the day and the hour.

"When it is crowded, you can't stay that distance," Johnson said.

The unions representing Chicago transit workers said their members are also concerned about their safety. They said workers should have access to testing and safety equipment.

"They need to have the testing done that CPD and CFD is getting. They need the same benefits afforded to them as they are giving other first responders because we are still moving this city and we are still at risk as well as our families," said Keith Hill of ATU Local 241.

Kenneth Franklin, with ATU Local 308, said they're interested in personal protective equipment.

Franklin believes service should be shut down for a period of time.

"I am a strong supporter of a quarantine," he said. "I think that is the ultimate opportunity to keep everyone safe to weed the virus out."

CTA officials said they're looking at a variety of safety measures in the fight against COVID-19, including the possibility of rear-door boarding on buses.

Andrea Johnson said it's not just the CTA's responsibility to stop the spread of the virus on their buses and trains.

"Can't nobody do nothing but us," Johnson said. "For those don't have to be out here why would you want to be out here because this is serious. Why would you want to be out here to risk your life and other people's life? But for those of us who have to be out here we got to do what we got to do."
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