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CTA To "Continuous Riders": Get Off Our Train

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 24, 2008 5:40PM

2008_11_24_ctasign.jpgThe CTA is creating a stink with some with new signs that are aimed at "continuous riders" that critics say are aimed at the city's homeless. The signs have gone up recently and some, like Chicago Carless' Mike Doyle, suggest the signs are aimed at curbing the number of homeless people who take to the warm train cars during Chicago's harsh winters.

Any regular ‘L’ rider can attest to the wave of homeless Chicagoans who take to the warm interiors of CTA rail cars during the city’s brutal winter months. Although generally a benign presence in the system, their downtrodden visual appearance–and in many cases odor–earns them the ire of many fellow, more fortunate passengers.

With that in mind, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the CTA would hurry to install the aforementioned signage at the start of another Windy City winter. Of course, it isn’t necessarily legal to single out homeless people and deny them service. (Just ask the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless about the numerous cases they’ve won against housing-status discrimination). Especially a public service like transit.

Trying to get to the bottom of the matter, Doyle contacted the CTA and asked them a few questions.
What is the legal basis for the signs? i.e. Is this rule officially codified in CTA’s existing rules and regulations and if so, where? If you can cite and quote the codified rule in your answer that would be a great help.) If there is not legally codified rule, what is the basis for these signs and the rule posted on them?

“Payment of fares for CTA service is governed by State statute. The Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, 70 ILCS 3605/31 gives CTA the statutory power to make all rules that are proper and necessary to regulate the use, operation and maintenance of all property owned, operated or maintained by CTA which also includes the right to impose fines and penalties for violation of those rules. Non-payment of the appropriate fare is considered theft of service.”

Reading through the CTA's answers, we tend to side with Mike, that, especially given the timing, the CTA is aiming to reduce the number of homeless who traverse the city all day on the trains. And, yet, we also understand the CTA's concerns of enforcing its "policy." Either way, we doubt the effectiveness of this new push in policy as it seems almost impossible for the CTA to enforce it. With the exception of the O'Hare station, rarely have we seen any CTA personnel or staff make any concerted effort to enforce such a policy. [NBC 5]

Image via ChicagoCarless