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The Dirty 'L' Trains Are More Noticeable In Winter

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 30, 2014 3:20PM

Photo credit: east99thst

Add this to the growing list of complaints about winter in Chicago. The Tribune has a story about the growing number of complaints regarding dirty rail cars and buses by riders since Old Man Winter placed the Second City in an arctic bear hug.

Normally, this should not be news but this has been a stressful winter and, with the advent of social media, riders are more eager than ever to grouse about hobo corners on the Blue Line and chicken bones strewn about the back of an articulated bus since they stand out like, well, dog turds in snow.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele told Tribune transportation reporter John Hilkevitch the cold weather has forced more homeless to seek shelter on buses and trains. Since it can take up to 90 minutes for the Red and Blue Lines to run from end to end that’s a serious respite from the elements for the homeless, but Steele reminded Hilkevitch that “L” trains aren’t supposed to be temporary homes. Compounding the issue, CTA is in the delicate position of maintaining its rail system as an attractive transit option for riders while not kicking off the homeless simply because they’re seeking shelter.

CTA has reached out to social service agencies in an attempt to get the homeless to shelters and health care centers but Thresholds associate director Nicole Richardson told Hilkevitch the more lax rules for homeless on trains versus in shelters does little to incentivize them to seek a permanent shelter.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 president Robert Kelly, whose union represents CTA’s rail workers, blamed the recent cessation of an apprentice program that put ex-offenders to work spot cleaning rail cars as another factor for the grody-looking and smelling trains. Coming from Kelly, who was blamed by CTA and minority interest groups for the end of the program, this is a particularly rich criticism.