CTA ads warn passengers to stay off the rails - KMSP-TV

CTA ads warn passengers to stay off the rails

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Stay off the tracks. It's not worth your life. That's the message the Chicago Transit Authority is sending as it launches a new public service campaign on Monday to warn people to steer clear of the tracks.

The number of reports of people hopping on the tracks is up, according to the transit agency. In 2012, there were 349 reports — up from 336 in 2011 — of people on tracks, for example, retrieving fallen phones or other belongings. And a "vast majority" of those people "making a conscious decision to go on the tracks," the transit agency is encouraging riders to ask CTA employees for help getting their stuff back.

On-track fatalities were up to 11 in 2012 from nine in 2011, according to the CTA. From 2009 to 2010, there were between six and 12, "many of which involve intentional acts by customers," the agency said. Through July, there have been seven so far this year. The CTA has provided more than 200 million rides in each of those years.

The ads, designed internally, say things such as: "Trains can reach 55 mph and can approach more quickly than you realize," and "You can live for a few minutes without it. If you drop your phone on the tracks, don't jump down to get it. Inform a CTA employee, who will help you."

CTA president Forrest Claypool characterized the number of CTA fatalities as "extremely low" but acknowledged in a prepared statement that "one incident is too many."

"We continue to work to ensure the safest system possible and to both remind and encourage our customers to take simple steps to keep themselves safe," he said.

The most recent CTA track fatality was about 6:30 p.m. July 21, when a 25-year-old man was found on the tracks about 100 feet north of the Red Line's Grand station, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. The appeared to have been struck by a train but also may have been electrocuted by the third rail first, Steele said.

The Red Line, which has the top ridership, also had the top number of fatalities with 21 between 2008 and 2013, followed in ridership and fatalities by the Blue Line with 20.

Alcohol has been a factor in many of the CTA's incidents, according to CTA and police records. Very few people tripped or accidentally fell onto the tracks, the CTA said.

People who end up on the tracks face the danger not only of oncoming trains but of the third rail, which delivers the 600 volts of electricity needed to propel trains and sufficient to kill human beings. And though entering the tracks is considered trespassing, few arrests are made because most people climb off right away, the CTA said.

Car cards and posters will show up this week on rail cars, in stations and on the CTA's digital signs, too, in unsold ad space, Steele said.

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