So it was an exciting morning. I got on the train at 7:45 – expecting to be at the office by 8:15. At 10:30, I had finally made it in.
A train broke down near my destination, preventing my train and several others from moving forward. We had already been stuck in the tunnel for a little over an hour (frustrating, but tolerable since I was playing tetris on my cell phone) when suddenly the power went out, or, more importantly, the air conditioning. And please keep in mind that this was a packed rush hour train.
I was backed against the door with this guy who decided to pull the emergency lever and open the doors for some fresh air. Seconds later, the train operator makes an announcement not to open the doors. Our doors shut. Another 15 minutes or so pass when we hear the operator make the same announcement about not opening doors and passengers walk past our train car on a little 2-foot-wide catwalk. Well, hell, we open our doors again and start filing out onto the catwalk.
I jumped at the chance to get out of the train because how often does this happen? Like, never! Other than all the dirt and rust it was kinda fun. Definitely a respite from the normal daily routine. I’m horrible with distances, so let’s just say we walked for a little while and then came to the next train stuck on the tracks. That operator told us all to turn back and that we’d get in trouble for being out there. Some of the riders in front of me persisted that they were leaving whether she helped or not, so she decided to be helpful and began evacuating her own train.
We reached the next train (completely emptied). That train was right behind the broken train. Apparently they had attempted to connect the two trains to push the disabled one but could not because of an incline in the tunnel. We passed both trains and were met with a small posse of train workers and firemen who directed us to hold on to the dirty handrail and walk slowly.We were walking down there for around 30 minutes before arriving at the designated emergency exit. We went up 4 flights of stairs and then were assisted up another ladder by nice rescue workers, and I found myself smack-dab on the same corner where I worked. Hooray!
After reading the news throughout the day, I am annoyed at how the CTA is spinning this. They are pretty much blaming the “riders’ self-evacuation” for the delay and that we were the reason power was cut in the first place. A quote from CTA President:
“If not for the [riders’] evacuation, we could have restored that service in around 25 minutes,” Huberman said. He said the initial mechanical problem was reported at 8:10 a.m. and by about 9 a.m. the problem was mostly corrected.”
I have a couple problems with his statement:
1.) The riders’ evacuation didn’t start until 9:40am, 40 minutes after Mr. Huberman says the problem was mostly corrected and 20 minutes after power had been cut from the trains (twice–first time was for several minutes, second was ongoing when we left).
2.) That problem was nowhere near “mostly corrected.” When we passed the train (around 10am) it was still a little smoky and very much derailed. But nice try there. They didn’t announce that the tracks were clear until noon.
Oh, but I took pictures!