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Time for CTA boss Dorval Carter Jr. to go

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On Thursday, Block Club Chicago published a sad and disturbing story about the death of 63-year-old CTA bus driver Anita Lyons last summer. According to the news outlet, Lyons passed out at the wheel of her No. 112 bus due to heart complications while parked at the CTA bus terminal at 111th Street and Harding Avenue in Mount Greenwood. She later died.

Block Club's story claims that no one at the CTA was aware of Lyons' unconscious state behind the wheel of her bus almost an hour.

“CTA supervisors failed to check on her even though the bus never moved and subsequently failed to make more than 50 scheduled stops,” reporter Manny Ramos wrote. The CTA told Ramos that it notified authorities immediately, but the story is supported by bus tracking data and suggests that the CTA's own safety protocols, such as one rider always checking on another when in Visibility is not followed. To our eyes, the source of the story also looks like an early salvo in a likely lawsuit against the agency run by the embattled Dorval Carter Jr.

This is perhaps the most serious recent problem in transit operations, which is clearly in need of a major overhaul and change in leadership.

We are explicitly demanding this today.

One of the challenges of running an agency that so frequently intersects with the lives of so many Chicagoans is that the scrutiny is intense, especially given the breadth of interest in the transportation sector. The group, calling itself Commuters Take Action, described the Block Club report as “not just alarming but downright infuriating” and criticized the board's “incompetence” and a resulting long-standing pattern of “emotionless, truth-obscuring statements.” . the CTA. The group also claims that service is still well below pre-pandemic levels and that advertised service levels often do not arrive at the station on a daily basis.

“Since 2020, CTA-L service has been reduced by 22%,” the group posted on Thursday

On Tuesday, Ald. Matt Martin, 47, a frequent CTA critic, wrote: “Since 2019, the CTA has reduced Brown Line service by almost 30%. This is unacceptable.” Martin also pointed out that while the CTA consistently says it has difficulty hiring staff, peer transit systems in other major American cities do not appear to have the same problem.

So it's no surprise that disgruntled CTA users are making increasing calls for Gov. JB Pritzker to appoint three of the seven members of the CTA board to replace them with people who will reform leadership and oust Carter as head of the agency.

If Pritzker does what he surely should now, he will do what he has done before: step in and take the lead where Johnson has failed to act decisively. On Friday, he made comments suggesting he had had enough of Carter.

It's also worth noting that the CTA board pays its members $25,000 per year to attend monthly meetings, making it potentially useful as a preferred bank, attracting both those with and without transit experience or even already expressed interest.