In 2009, the Chicago Transit Authority changed the rules regarding bus drivers’ punishment for the tickets they received while driving.
In that time, according to a Freedom of Information Act request, red light camera violations have dropped significantly. In 2010, the CTA reported their bus drivers received 779 violations. In 2011, the number of red light violations dropped to 321 and to 222 in 2012.
The reason behind these changes? Harsher punishments for CTA bus drivers who run red lights.
While in the past, the bus drivers paid for any tickets they received while working, the state law requires the owner of a vehicle to pay the fine. Now, the CTA pays for the ticket, but a cost remains for drivers. For their first ticket, bus drivers get a three day unpaid suspension from work, and if they receive another violation within two years they are dismissed from CTA employment, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
While the new rules have had a positive outcome for the CTA, bus drivers do have concerns. In a statement the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 said, “Our operators work under unrealistic time constraints and meet expectations despite undesirable weather conditions, traffic, and over crowding.”
In response, Tammy Chase, a spokeswoman for the CTA said, “Nobody would argue that driving a CTA bus is a hard, hard job and we recognize that sometimes there are mitigated instances. But sometimes it is a clear safety violation that should not have occurred.”
In 2013, the CTA reported a spike in the number of violations, from 222 to 300. The CTA believes the recent hire of 400 new drivers may be the cause.
The top sites where CTA red light violations occurred since 2010.
1. Belmont, Sheridan, and Lake Shore Drive (85 tickets)
2. 95th and Cottage Grove (64tickets)
3. Garfield and LaSalle (60 tickets)
4. Chicago and Sacramento (56 tickets)
5. Western and Van Buren (51 tickets)
6. Columbus and Illinois (46 tickets)
7. 57th and Cornell (34 tickets
8. 79th and Jeffrey (32 tickets)
9. Cicero and Stevenson Expressway (31 tickets)
10. Tie between 31st and King and Grand and Oak Park Avenue (31 tickets)
DePaul University intern Christie Lacey contributed to this story.