Subway Smoke

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Two Chicago travelers have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transportation Authority after allegedly suffering from smoke inhalation at a Northwest Side 'L' station.

Terry Cookes and Joseph Ellison were riding the 'L' Blue Line train on April 28, 2009. They claim that when the train entered the Logan Square station, smoke was coming from the station's track area and that the smoke began to enter the car of their train. Both are asserting that they suffered injuries from the smoke inhalation and that the CTA was responsible due to negligence.

The suit argues that the CTA driver negligently brought the train into the smoke-filled station. Furthermore, it claims that the CTA did not have proper fans to keep the train cars clear of smoke nor was the smoke properly purged from the subway station. The suit seeks a judgment against the CTA as well as to recover the costs of the suit itself.

The case comes on the heels of several high-profile accidents at the CTA. In 2008, a CTA train operator disobeyed a red light and overrode safety protocols that would automatically halted the train. The operator’s decision lead to a derailment that nearly sent the train off the edge of the platform to the street below.

Since 2005, there have been 13 derailments of CTA-operated 'L' trains. Other train-based transit systems, even those with larger capacities, do not have as many breakdowns or derailments as the Chicago system. Even New York's subway system, which racks up six times as many miles of transit annually, only had seven derailments within the same time that the 'L' racked up 13.

Allegations of poor maintenance procedures, insufficient or inadequate training for drivers, and the age of the 'L' transit equipment continue to raise questions about the system's safety. This new suit is merely the most recent iteration of an issue that is increasingly worrisome.


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