WBEZ | train http://www.wbez.org/tags/train Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Final phase of Ventra rollout suspended, developer apologizes http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ventra.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago commuters will be able to hold on to those old Chicago Cards and magnetic strip cards for a little while longer. Chicago Transit Authority officials announced the the final phase of the new <a href="http://ventrachicago.com/">Ventra </a>system&rsquo;s rollout will be suspended until a few of its problems are fixed. Chicago Cards and Chicago Card Plus were supposed to be phased out by November 15.</p><p dir="ltr">CTA President Forrest Claypool also said the agency won&rsquo;t pay the developer, Cubic Transportation Systems, any of the $454 million, 12-year contract, until the company meets three criterion: customer service wait times must be five minutes or less, processing times for the tap-and-go function of a Ventra card must be under two and a half seconds--99 percent of the time--and all readers and vending machines must be operational 99 percent of the time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The bottom line is that too many of our customers are confused and frustrated and that&rsquo;s our fault,&rdquo; Claypool told members of the City Club at a luncheon Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic&rsquo;s head of North American operations, Richard Wunderle, was on hand to answer some questions as well.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This transition period wasn&rsquo;t our shining light, and for that I want to apologize to the riders of CTA,&rdquo; said Wunderle. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t our best effort but it will get better, so I apologize for that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic isn&rsquo;t new to the public transit game: They&rsquo;ve got 400 fare-collection projects in operation across the world, including systems in Sydney, London and Washington, D.C. But the Ventra system marks the first time the company&rsquo;s tackled an open-fare, contactless card system; and officials say it&rsquo;s the first of its kind in North America.</p><p dir="ltr">Wunderle said Cubic engineers are already at work on a number of fixes to get things up to speed.</p><p dir="ltr">One issue that&rsquo;s drawn many complaints from CTA riders is being charged for multiple taps of their Ventra card at the turnstile. Officials say customers would tap their card, and after not immediately seeing a green &ldquo;Go&rdquo; signal, they&rsquo;d tap multiple times or move to a different lane. As of Tuesday, Cubic said they added a new &ldquo;processing&rdquo; screen to show riders the system is working before it lets them through. Engineers will also be upgrading the Ventra software over the weekend to try and bring processing times down on card readers to two-and-a-half seconds or less. CTA officials said that&rsquo;s happening 95 percent of the time--but the other 5 percent of the time, processing times varied from three to 10 seconds, sometimes more.</p><p dir="ltr">Claypool said the issue that&rsquo;s upset him the most is the long wait times for callers trying to reach a customer service agent, calling it a &ldquo;self-inflicted wound.&rdquo; The CTA chief said on one day last month, the center was overwhelmed with 20,000 calls. Some customers couldn&rsquo;t get through to an agent at all, while others waited, and waited - in some cases, for more than 30 minutes. Cubic has hired more customer service agents since then, and plans to expand further.</p><p dir="ltr">No timeline has been set for when the Ventra rollout will continue. Wunderle said he can&rsquo;t really give a &ldquo;best guess&rdquo; how long it will take the company to address the CTA&rsquo;s three benchmarks, only estimating &ldquo;weeks&rdquo; when pressed by a reporter.</p><p dir="ltr">Other interesting Ventra facts:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The entire Ventra contract lasts 12 years: The two years allotted for engineering the system are almost up. The next 10 years of the contract will be for the service.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Cubic paid $92 million up front toward the transition: installing card readers, vending machines, call center operations, etc.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">CTA lawyers will be looking into how many fares they&rsquo;ve missed because of bus drivers waving people through when there seemed to be problems with the Ventra card</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">50 percent of CTA riders are now using Ventra cards</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Card readers will now display a &ldquo;low balance&rdquo; screen that lets customers know their Ventra card balance is under $10</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 Chicago’s Union Station will get indoor park and giant blob http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Union Station 130815 AY.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Commuters going to Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station on August 24 will be greeted by <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/trainyard_visualplan.pdf">an indoor park</a> and <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/blahblahblob_visualplan.pdf">a giant blob</a>.</p><p>The Great Hall will hold an indoor park with an artificial lawn. It will have seats made from recycled newspapers, picnic tables and tetherball. Graham Grilli, an architect at <a href="http://www.spacearchplan.com/">SPACE architects and planners</a>, the team behind the park, says city commuters travel to the suburbs to enjoy outdoor space and he wanted this park to bring the outdoors to them.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5c71b554-8441-6b59-47f1-32c2df7bba5d">&ldquo;Union Station is one of those in-between places where you&rsquo;re in a rush the whole day, and you end up in Union Station with nothing to do for a few minutes,&rdquo; Grilli said. &ldquo;People are often using Union Station to go out to the suburbs, where there&rsquo;s a lot more open space, but the reality is they spend almost all their time commuting in a train or working in an office and they almost never get to enjoy it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Outside Union Station, the plaza will have something that looks like a giant bouncy castle. Architect Katherine Darnstadt worked on the team behind the Blah Blah Blob!, a creation of <a href="http://latentdesign.net/">Latent Design</a> and the <a href="http://www.cudc.kent.edu/">Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Lots of things will be happening inside the blob,&quot; Darnstadt said. &quot;The blob will be surrounding tables and chairs that are on the plaza so people could walk inside, have a cup of coffee, eat their lunch inside of it.&rdquo;</p><p>The blob will be lined with artificial grass and will house fitness classes. Darnstadt says several organizations in Chicago have contacted her about wanting to host the blob at future events, so residents may still see the blob around the city after it leaves Union Station.The Metropolitan Planning Council, a local nonprofit development group, organized Active Union Station, a competition for designs that would help make it a gathering place instead of just a train station. The council picked these two designs as<a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6760"> the winners</a>, and each team will receive $5,000.</p><p>The organizers were inspired by the <a href="http://www.unionstationdc.com/">Union Station in Washington, DC</a>, which is a tourist destination in itself; and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, which has an urban space called <a href="http://universitycity.org/the-porch">the Porch</a> for art, group exercise and food trucks, says Marisa Novara, a program director at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&ldquo;There are a lot of people passing through, what we&rsquo;d like to do is give them more of a reason to stay,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Novara also points out the contest &nbsp;to expand Union Station started from <a href="http://www.unionstationmp.com/">an ongoing collaboration</a> between the Metropolitan Planning Council, Amtrak, Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation and other groups.Both installations will arrive next Saturday and stay till September 2.</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 Ventra roll out to begin in August http://www.wbez.org/news/ventra-roll-out-begin-august-108222 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cta.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago commuters could be tapping their new <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/ventra/">Ventra </a>cards on the bus or train as soon as early September, according to Chicago Transit Authority officials. The program will be first rolled out to public school students and universities with the U-Pass program in August, and the slow roll out will continue over the next few months.</p><p dir="ltr">The Ventra pass is a single fare card system that is being billed as an easy tap and go option for riders across both CTA and Pace transportation systems. Ventra users will also have the option to make cash withdrawals from ATM&rsquo;s around the area with their card.</p><p>Starting August 5th, the first U-Pass cards will begin arriving at select universities Rush Medical School, Westwood College of Technology and Northwestern University Law School. Transit officials say additional universities that are enrolled in the U-Pass program will get their cards later this month in time for the start of their fall semesters.</p><p>Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers that have completed the proper address validation will begin receiving their cards in the mail around August 19th. As for Chicago Public Schools students, they&rsquo;ll get their cards during school orientation, so that they&rsquo;ll have Ventra set up for the first day of school on August 26th.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to gradually roll in waves of customers, because we&rsquo;re still testing the system and we&rsquo;re doing thousands of transactions weekly,&rdquo; said Tammy Chase, CTA spokeswoman.</p><p>Chase said the staggered roll out will give transit agencies the chance to jump in if any &ldquo;hiccups&rdquo; occur, rather than being inundated by switching the system over all at once.</p><p>As for everyone else, like faithful users of the magnetic stripe cards or day passes, Ventra will be available for purchase on September 9th. New Chicago cards will no longer be issued by September, but balances can be spent or transferred to Ventra. Chase said by December, the CTA and Pace will only accept Ventra. &nbsp;</p><p>The Ventra card will initially cost $5, which transit officials say will be refunded to the card for transit use once the card is registered online or by phone.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-5cfd0be2-3018-4c93-0ef4-5fffb871b89e"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s morning producer and Follow her</span><a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span></a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@laurenchooljian</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></p></p> Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ventra-roll-out-begin-august-108222 South Red Line closures just around the corner http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2721141923_d30f49ae31_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The South branch of the Red Line closes Sunday for five months while it undergoes renovation. Chicago Transit Authority officials say nine stops, also known as the Dan Ryan branch, are in desperate need of repair. The CTA will provide a few backup solutions for the more than 80,000 people who ride each weekday. Other groups like PACE, Metra - even the White Sox franchise - are also lending a hand.</p><p dir="ltr">Starting Sunday, service will be shut down between 95th/Dan Ryan and Cermak-Chinatown. According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, construction crews will rip everything up -- like ties, rails and ballasts - and rebuild the tracks and all but one of the train stations. Steele says the 95th/Dan Ryan stop is scheduled to receive a separate facelift beginning in the first half of 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Remember that the Red Line South opened in September of 1969, just two months after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon,&rdquo; Steele said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s seen, literally, millions of train trips in that time, and has really served the CTA well.</p><p dir="ltr">Steele says the Red Line has been patched and fixed over the years, but it&rsquo;s to the point where the only way to ensure effective operation of the line is to completely rebuild it.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s going to take some time - five months, to be exact. Steele says they looked at other options, like closing down only on the weekends, for example, but he says the five-month plan was the most efficient and cost-effective way to complete the project. Steele says once completed, the trackwork will provide faster and more reliable service.</p><p dir="ltr">To ease riders&rsquo; headaches, the CTA will provide a number of backup options. The CTA website has been upgraded with a <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/news_initiatives/projects/redsouth/tripplanner.aspx">trip planner</a> that calculates rerouted directions for commuters. CTA is also offering express buses from four of the closed Red Line stations (95th/Dan Ryan, 87th, 79th and 69th) that will go directly to the Green Line Garfield station. Steele said Green Line service and local bus routes will also provide additional service during peak times.</p><p dir="ltr">For riders who think Metra or Pace might be the best option, the three transit agencies are offering a joint fare pass. Riders can buy the cards at stores like CVS or Walgreens. They provide five days of unlimited rides on CTA/Pace and 10 rides on the Metra. The cost of the pass depends on which Metra zone the rider travels to and from.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Metra spokesman Michael Gillis, the agency isn&rsquo;t expecting an influx of riders during the Red Line closures, but says there will certainly be a &ldquo;settling-in period&rdquo; as riders figure out which new route works best.</p><p dir="ltr">Even the <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/cws/ticketing/groups/gsg/gsg.jsp?loc=soxcta">White Sox</a> are chipping in to help potentially disgruntled commuters, as the Sox/35th stop is one of the stops getting a makeover. The team is offering fans discounts on some tickets to the May 20th, 21st and 22nd games against the Boston Red Sox.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 ‘L’ train rides were up in 2012, but some stations’ traffic drops http://www.wbez.org/news/%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99-train-rides-were-2012-some-stations%E2%80%99-traffic-drops-105229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chart_2.png" alt="" /><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AsCcVlINIfzAdC1sVFQ0T0I3X09hTGRlQjN2dWpSZFE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=B1%3AH2&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"","minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"series":{"0":{"color":"#ff9900"},"1":{"color":"#0000ff"},"2":{"color":"#9900ff"},"3":{"color":"#f4cccc"},"4":{"color":"#b45f06"},"5":{"color":"#ff0000"},"6":{"color":"#38761d"}},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Percentage increase by rail lines","animation":{"duration":0},"backgroundColor":{"fill":"#efefef"},"domainAxis":{"direction":1},"legend":"in","theme":"maximized","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"","minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"width":524,"height":343},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[{"calc":"emptyString","type":"string","sourceColumn":0},0,1,2,3,4,5,6]},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority announced Wednesday that the number of rides on its &lsquo;L&rsquo; trains hit a fifty-year high in 2012, going up 4.2 percent from 2011. Across the bus and train system, the CTA saw a modest 2.4 percent increase for a total of 545.6 million rides.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77258937" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Every train line increased its ridership, with the Yellow Line spiking 18 percent due to a new station opening. The Orange, Pink, and Blue Lines also went up. The Red Line, which experienced multiple station closures and construction projects throughout the year, only had 1.8 percent more riders in 2012 than 2011.</p><p>But some rail lines&rsquo; stations haven&rsquo;t fared so well. At the<a href="#redline"> 95th Street stop on the Red Line</a>, 37,000 less people came through in 2012 compared to the previous year. It&rsquo;s a marginal drop&nbsp; &mdash; the station sees nearly 4 million visitors per year &mdash; but it&rsquo;s notable, given that almost all stations in the CTA system increased rides last year. Some saw gains in traffic as high as 7 percent between 2011 and 2012. But all the Red Line stations from Garfield south lost riders.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the worst station in the city,&rdquo; said Wayne Johnson, who commutes from the city&rsquo;s Roseland neighborhood to commutes to Evanston. &ldquo;The Purple Line station, you go on Davis Street downtown. It&rsquo;s clean. Always somebody sweeping and cleaning up ... Out here, it&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Johnson says racism is behind what he considers to be mediocre service on the South Side. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Other people asked by WBEZ suggested that violence is behind the 95th street station&rsquo;s drop in popularity. Another reason: the Red Line&rsquo;s slow pace. Currently the line&rsquo;s south branch is marked by a series of <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/rail_slow_zone_maps/slzm_01_15_13.pdf">slow zones</a> caused by aging tracks.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s ridiculously slow and we&rsquo;re very well aware of that,&rdquo; said a CTA spokesperson.</p><p>The agency plans to close all nine South Side Red Line stops from Cermak to 95th for five months, beginning in May. CTA says it will remodel stations and eliminate slow zones by rebuilding the tracks.</p><p><em>Charts by Elliott Ramos.</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em><a name="redline"></a></p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AsCcVlINIfzAdGNlU0VYejJQRGhpWmdxcWZINTZJZ2c&transpose=1&headers=1&range=A1%3AG3&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"title":"Number of riders","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null}],"title":"Red Line South Branch Ridership 2011 vs. 2012","booleanRole":"certainty","animation":{"duration":500},"backgroundColor":{"fill":"#efefef"},"legend":"in","theme":"maximized","hAxis":{"title":"Station Name","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"width":491,"height":284},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p> Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99-train-rides-were-2012-some-stations%E2%80%99-traffic-drops-105229 More people using CTA http://www.wbez.org/story/more-people-using-cta-97261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-14/CTA accordion bus Flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-13/cta web flickr.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="2011 ridership on CTA reached highest level in twenty years. (Flickr/CTA Web)"></p><p>Chicago Transit Authority ridership went up to 530 million boardings last year, reaching its highest ridership level since 1991.</p><p>Rail ridership grew by 5.2 percent compared to an increase of 1.4 percent in bus usage. The Blue and Brown Lines saw the greatest share of the increase with nearly 6 million more riders.</p><p>“Part of it [the increase] is obviously factors outside our control like rising gas prices,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. But Claypool also attributes the increase to “improvements we’ve made to provide a safer and more clean and customer friendly experience,” said Claypool.</p><p>With increased ridership, Claypool expects there will be a more urgent need for infracstructure improvements. Claypool said there are plans in place to improve stations on the Howard branch of the Red Line and a reconstruction of the tracks along the Dan Ryan Branch. The CTA also plans to begin replacing older series buses this year.</p><p>Claypool said the improvements may lead to some delays.</p><p>"It may require inconveniences, but in the long run you’ll have faster trains. You’ll have better service overall.” he said.</p></p> Tue, 13 Mar 2012 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/more-people-using-cta-97261 Residents return home after train derailment http://www.wbez.org/story/residents-return-home-after-train-derailment-92972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-08/AP111007020055.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The remaining residents of a small northern Illinois village are being allowed to return to their homes after a train derailment that forced a mandatory evacuation.</p><p>All 800 Tiskilwa residents could come back as of Saturday afternoon.</p><p>A freight train loaded with ethanol crashed and exploded near the village's northeast side early Friday. Witnesses said the resulting explosions shook them awake before dawn and sent bright orange flames and plumes of smoke into the sky.</p><p>National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Tim Depaepe said there were no visible flames from the crash Saturday. But he said smoldering may force officials to reissue an evacuation order.</p><p>There are no injuries or casualties reported. The cause of the crash is under investigation.</p><p>Tiskilwa is located about 100 miles west of Chicago.</p></p> Sat, 08 Oct 2011 22:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/residents-return-home-after-train-derailment-92972 Union Station train collision sends at least 12 passengers to the hospital http://www.wbez.org/story/union-station-train-collision-sends-least-12-passengers-hospital-87371 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/train tracks Chicago_brandel.jpg.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>At least a dozen people suffered injuries and have been taken to area hospitals after two commuter trains collided, with one derailing, at Chicago's Union Station, city emergency officials said Friday morning.</p><p>A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department says one of the trains derailed, but he didn't have any details. Metra spokesman Tom Miller says the collision occurred at about 8:15 a.m. Friday, but that to his knowledge no trains derailed. The crash involved a Burlington Northern commuter train from Aurora and an Amtrak train heading to Carbondale.</p><p>Spokesmen for the rail lines and the fire department say the two trains collided as a train on Metra's Burlington Northern line was coming into the station and the Amtrak train was leaving for Carbondale at about 8:15 a.m.</p><p>There was initial confusion about the location of the crash, with first responders arriving just north of the crash, which occurred under the Old Chicago Main Post Office on Congress Parkway.</p><p>Passengers, some complaining of head and neck injuries, had to evacuate through tunnels spanning almost four blocks.&nbsp; Officials said at least one person may have broken ribs and that there were two pregnant women that were in stable condition.</p><p>Metra board member Jack Schaffer was on the scene when a Metra train collided with a truck last month in suburban Mount Prospect. He said, "The train on train accident is unusual. Although I will tell you and I say this with some reluctance, we still are on high alert out for terrorism."</p><p>Spokesmen for both lines would not comment on which train caused the collision.</p><p>An investigation is underway.</p><p><em>--The Associated Press contributed to this article</em>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 14:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-station-train-collision-sends-least-12-passengers-hospital-87371 Metra conductor in critical condition after collision http://www.wbez.org/story/metra-train-hits-truck-tracks-86505 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-13/Metra in HO Scale.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED: 2:45 p.m. 5/13/2011</em></p><p>A Metra commuter train heading into Chicago collided with a semitrailer, killing the truck's driver and causing a minor derailment Friday morning.</p><p>Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the train's passengers were evacuated after the collision in Mount Prospect. He said he heard there was a fire near the train and that the driver of the semi-truck that was carrying concrete was killed. Witnesses told the Mount Prospect Police Department that the crossing gates were down and the warning lights were operating at the train crossing.</p><p>Jackie Kaufmann, the mother of WBEZ Web Editor Justin Kaufmann, said she was a passenger in the second car of the train that was hit.</p><p>“The train wobbled all over the place and we thought we might tip over or spin around and looked to the window and the window shot up in flames,” she said in a phone interview Friday.</p><p>Jackie Kaufmann said she saw flames outside one of the windows of her train car. A passenger in her car kicked out a window and she and other passengers in the car climbed through the window to escape the train.</p><p>She said she was not physically injured.</p><p>“It was pretty scary,” Jackie Kaufmann said. “People were very scared.”</p><p>The Mount Prospect police department wrote in a statement that 28 Metra passengers were hospitalized. The train conductor is in critical condition at an area hospital.</p><p>Miller, the Metra spokesman, said he expects service to the trains going through Mount Prospect will be affected the rest of the day. He said he expects buses to be available for passengers who need to connect from Des Plaines to Arlington Heights.</p></p> Fri, 13 May 2011 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/metra-train-hits-truck-tracks-86505 CTA 'Train Tracker' launching in January http://www.wbez.org/story/cell-phone/icois-test-post <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/CTA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rail commuters in Chicago soon will be able to find out estimated arrival times for trains on all eight of the city's rail lines.&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority says a pilot version of the CTA Train Tracker website will be launched in early January. Customers can use the program on computers or cell phones. The train program's debut follows the agency's popular CTA Bus Tracker.</p><p>Officials say estimated arrival times will be generated by averaging travel times of the previous five trains to move along a part of rail track. Customers can get the information by choosing their rail line and then their station.</p><p>The CTA says it plans on making adjustments to improve accuracy.&nbsp; The agency wants customers to provide feedback to help find ways to enhance the program.<br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.&nbsp; All Rights Reserved.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 03 Jan 2011 15:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cell-phone/icois-test-post