New scheduling rules for CTA operators after O`Hare crash - Fox 2 News Headlines

New scheduling rules for CTA operators after O`Hare crash

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Chicago Transit Authority officials Friday announced new rail operating scheduling procedures – including raising the hours off between shifts from eight to 10 hours – after a Blue Line train crash by an operator who admitted nodding off.

Other reforms include setting a maximum 12 hours of duty operating a rail car within a 14-hour period, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Previously no maximum was set for the number of hours an operator could spend at the controls.

And for new operators in the first year of operating a train — like the one who crashed a Blue Line train into escalators at O'Hare International Airport last month — work hours would be limited to 32 hours a week. CTA officials had said the Blue Line operator had worked 55 hours in the week before the crash.

In addition, all rail operations employees will be required to take at least one day off in any seven-day period. Currently, there is no limit.

The CTA said in a news release that it had "historically followed well-established scheduling principles" that were "very similar to those of every other transit agency in the country.''

However, in the wake of a 2:50 a.m. crash March 24 that sent a Blue Line train vaulting out of a track bed and into the stairs and escalators of one of the busiest airports in the world, the CTA said it "voluntarily and immediately" began to examine its scheduling policies.

After the crash, 32 people were taken to local hospitals. Eight passengers have since filed negligence suits against the CTA.

The changes will make CTA scheduling guidelines "as stringent, and in most cases more stringent, than its peer transit agencies nationwide," the CTA said.

The reforms come a week after Robert Kelly, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, charged that the erratic and long hours of the Blue Line operator fueled fatigue that contributed to the crash. The operator, who has been identified as Brittney Haywood, filled in for vacationing and ill employees under the CTA's "extra-board" procedures. She called in daily for assignments.

Haywood's schedule indicated that she worked eight full or partial shifts over the eight days leading up to the crash, starting two shifts on one day. She had starting times of roughly 9:30 p.m. — followed by a partial shift that began 45 minutes after that shift ended and a full shift that began at 9:20 p.m. that same night. That was followed by a shift at 8:10 p.m., a day off, then shifts at 7:30 a.m., 8:40 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. On the next day, the day of the crash, she started at 8:30 p.m.

"Safety is our highest priority at the CTA,'' CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a news release. "Any time an incident like this occurs, we take very seriously the responsibility of thoroughly reviewing all aspects of what happened – including longstanding policies and procedures.''

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