Watch CBS News

What's Being Done About Track Trespassers At CTA Train Stations?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Almost every day, a CTA train is delayed when an unauthorized person ends up on the tracks.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory has been digging into the issue for months, and took her questions straight to the CTA.

The third rail on CTA tracks will electrocute you, and trains can crush you, so why would nearly 600 people be in such a dangerous area in two years' time?

One possibility is no one sees them go down on the tracks.

Asked why the CTA doesn't have someone assigned to be on train platforms at all times to watch what's happening, spokesman Brian Steele said "that gets to a staffing issue."

It's also a technology issue. Despite a network of 32,000 surveillance cameras, station attendants don't have access to a live feed of what's happening on platforms and tracks at train stations.

Steele said that upgrade is a work in progress. For now, education is the main line of defense against trespassing on CTA tracks.

"We know that signage alone won't solve the issue," Steele said.

CTA officials also rely on a rail safety awareness campaign. Digital ads on signs at CTA stations started in 2013.

One problem with any ad campaign is so many riders focusing on their phones or talking to each other, and not paying any attention to the signs at train stations.

"The concept of people being distracted by their phones is something, obviously, that's not solely impacts the CTA," Steele said.

Steele again pressed on the importance of education, but what about awareness for CTA employees.

Experts have said existing technology like heat sensors could have alerted a distracted CTA conductor whose train hit and killed 37-year-old Felon Smith at the 69th Street Red Line Station on June 27, after she climbed down onto the tracks to retrieve her dropped phone.

But why spend money on a solution when the problem isn't clear?

CBS 2 requested all incidents of a person on the tracks from the CTA, Chicago Police Department, and the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The three agencies provided different logs with contradictory figures.

The case of Clark Pryor, who was hit by a train in 2017, was missing from CTA data.

Asked to account for the discrepancy, Steele said, "the CTA is very liberal in how we report incidents."

CTA later explained Pryor's death didn't fall into the category of a "person on the tracks."

What? Are the numbers even higher than we thought?

Which lines experience the most delays from track trespassers? You can find a breakdown and an interactive map by clicking here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.