Packed CTA buses raises concerns during COVID-19 outbreak
CHICAGO - Two more CTA employees have tested positive for coronavirus: a bus driver from the 77th Street bus garage, and a train conductor who worked out of the 95th Street station.
It comes as the CTA is demanding safer working conditions during this crisis as crowds still pack public transportation.
Some waiting for the 79th Street bus heading westbound at the Red Line on Wednesday had on masks. others had on gloves to protect themselves.
However, there’s no way they are practicing social distancing.
Pictures from Tuesday show standing room only on the 79th Street buses. It’s impossible for riders to spread out.
“We want this right now to be blocked off,” said Keith Hill, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.
3,500 Pace and CTA bus drivers are on the job daily. CTA bus operators cover 129 routes.
Pace operators are the backbone of the Chicago suburbs, with service to 284 municipalities. Though on the front lines, they aren’t considered first responders.
“It’s an insult to the people to not be called first responders,” said Hill. “During fires we are there. During 9-11 they called us and we evacuated the entire downtown.”
For many, it’s the only way to get around in the city of Chicago.
We watched as a bus operator put on her gloves, mask and then disinfected her bus, sill providing service during a global pandemic that’s infected three of her own colleagues. One from the same bus garage on 77th right across the street.
“You are putting the operator at risk and we are still making sure the people can get to work,” said Hill. “We need their help to practice social distancing.”