Chicago/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on April 14, 2024
Illinois Senators Rally for Public Transit Safety Transparency After Chicago Train CrashSource: Google Street View

In the wake of a train crash that left 19 people hospitalized, Illinois law makers are pushing for more transparency in the public transportation system. The Illinois Senate has unanimously passed legislation mandating that state and city transit agencies, including the CTA and Metra, disclose federal rail-safety recommendations and their implementation statuses to the public each year by December 31, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

The bill, requiring an accessible online publication of safety reports on the websites of the transit agencies and the Illinois General Assembly, has received bipartisan backing and will now head to the House for approval, the unanimous vote encompassing both sides of the aisle with the Democrats and Republicans coming together, showing unity in the face of public safety concerns. Sen. Mike Simmons, the main sponsor of the legislation, told the Tribune that the intention is to ensure "rail transit riders feel safe as they commute."

Following the November 16 crash involving a Yellow Line train and a snowplow, which resulted in critical injuries and $8.7 million in damage, the Chicago Transit Authority did not oppose the bill; in a March statement to the Sun-Times, they remarked that "NTSB recommendations and agency responses are already considered public documents and are available on the NTSB's website" but also noted that they are "happy to provide copies of its regular NTSB status reports to any interested entity."

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board did not conclude the exact cause of the crash but pointed out multiple factors like track debris and misjudgment of braking distances, investigations are ongoing but the CTA has already taken action by reducing train speeds along the Yellow Line, a decision following the NTSB's chair Jennifer Homendy's statement that the operator did everything right under the circumstances but was unable to fully control the train's speed leading up to the collision as per details the NTSB shared initially, according to the Sun-Times. At least seven lawsuits have been filed against the CTA in connection to the crash.

Chicago-Transportation & Infrastructure