The illegal park at a CTA Blue Line station has seen its last days. The I-Team asked why CTA employees were parking for free in bus lanes, while the rest of the public had to pay for parking in a nearby garage.
The parking lot at the Cumberland CTA stop fills up Monday through Friday. For $6, commuters can leave their cars there all day and jump on the Blue Line. Parking for 24 hours costs $13.
But the I-Team found dozens of cars there getting a free ride. The I-Team found some CTA employees parking in empty bus lanes for free.
"Why aren't they parking in the same lot as the rest of us," wondered CTA rider Dan Anderson.
CTA neon vests, placards and a "CTA Emergency" sign lay in dashboard windows and on the front seats of cars.
"If they didn't have their vests, they'd be towed," said one CTA worker.
When the I-Team asked if it's fair for them to be allowed to do that while it's illegal for other people the worker replied, "That's up to management, not me."
"Well, we are all going to work and we pay to park and travel on the CTA and go to work. Should they be able to park for free? I guess it's a perk," Anderson said.
Jason Knowles: "CTA employees get to park for free?"
CTA Worker Amilcar Ramos: "It's always been forever like that."
JK: "Is that fair?"
AR: "Uh, I'm not to say. I guess we should have a place to park for free. But we don't."
JK: "So this is a makeshift parking lot so that employees can park for free?"
But as employees were getting free parking, riders are bracing to pay more. The CTA raised bus and train fairs by 25 cents Wednesday to help fill a $33 million budget hole. The increase begins Jan. 7.
The I-Team asked the CTA if their employees are within the law. The CTA said because of the I-Team's investigation they are putting a stop to the parking perk.
"We do not condone the placement of a CTA vest or placard in a vehicle window to avoid properly parking. CTA expects every employee to obey the law, including all traffic laws when operating a vehicle while on duty. This includes properly parking in areas where permitted and paying when parked at parking meters. We have already reached out to employees to remind them of our policy on parking," the agency said in a statement.
The CTA also said they are working to find their employees free parking.
"We are already investigating long-term parking options at the Cumberland Blue Line facility, which has extra capacity," the agency said.
The I-Team also found that not all free parkers work for the CTA. They found one car that actually belongs to a parking enforcement aide.
The City of Chicago said if you see people parking illegally on city or CTA property, blow the whistle on them by calling 311.