Open Letter to the CTA Regarding My Bus Trip Yesterday.

posted in: Chicago, Rant 0
Chicago bus, 1976. Photo: Wikipedia
Chicago bus, 1976. Photo: Wikipedia

To Whom It May Concern:

I don’t write complaint letters often; life is full of annoyances and disappointments, too many to get terribly worked up about. But from time to time something occurs that demands attention from an entity or person who might be able to do something about it, so I’m writing you. Every detail of this occurrence happened precisely as I will detail it here.

Heading north on the #36 Broadway bus yesterday, I witnessed deplorable behavior from one of your drivers. The time of the incident was 4:05pm; the bus number was 1893. I didn’t ask for the driver’s name when I got off the bus.

A frail, blind man with a thick Balkan accent (he looked to be in his seventies) boarded the bus around Foster. His English was poor. When he got on the bus, he tried to fold his white cane and find his Ventra card and politely made room for others to enter the bus while he struggled to do both of those things. The bus advanced from the stop and the man asked the driver, “Does bus go to Touhy?”

Your driver would not answer his question. Not turning to actually look at the man when he finally responded, he stated, “This bus ends at Clark and Devon.”

This was not an answer to the man’s question, so he asked again. I could see the man was also hard of hearing, adding another barrier to understanding whether or not in fact the bus would reach Touhy — and I knew it would not. Your driver continued to stare straight ahead and answered with great annoyance, “This bus ends at Clark and Devon.” The blind man leaned closer. “Touhy?”

Your driver then spat out, “You need to get up out of my face, old man! This bus ends at Clark and Devon! Now move back.”

I realize the driver was at that moment driving a city bus. I understand how it might’ve been frustrating to have to repeat himself multiple times. I have no doubt that driving a bus for the CTA is not an easy job. But there is no excuse for treating anyone so poorly when they’re asking for help. When the person needing help is an ailing, elderly, foreign, blind person, this kind of behavior is disgraceful.

Aside from a couple years when I had a car, I’ve been an almost daily user of the CTA for fifteen years. Anyone who has used public transit that long has seen some stuff. But what I saw yesterday was the worst interaction I’ve witnessed between an employee and a passenger.

Please speak to your driver. Chicagoans trust our train and bus operators to be safe and to help us if we need help. If they treat us in a hostile manner, if they behave half as abysmally as your man did yesterday, our transit system fails. We need it too much to let that happen, which is why I’ve written to you today.

With Regards,
Mary Fons

*Letter sent to CTA customer service via online form. Also, I did get up and sit next to the man and repeated a couple times, “No Touhy. Devon only.”  He got it eventually and nodded his head at me.