Sep 24, 2007
On September 11, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report on the July 11, 2006 rapid transit derailment and fire in Chicago, which injured 152 people and caused 1,000 passengers to flee for their lives through a smoke-filled tunnel.
The Safety Board found the main cause“was the Chicago Transit Authority’s ineffective management and oversight of its track inspection and maintenance program and its system safety program, which resulted in unsafe track conditions.” The Safety Board found that 80% of the inspection records for the three months before the accident were conveniently missing. They also found that there were false records claiming repairs that had never been made.
For years, workers inspecting the rail tracks knew that their inspections weren’t resulting in repairs. As far back as 1996, inspectors began writing in chalk on the subway walls what serious problems they found to cover themselves when management did nothing.
Now the NTSB report confirmed what workers had long been saying. But issuing reports is one thing; proposing corrective action is another. The NTSB did NOT propose that CTA top management, which was responsible for this accident, should be charged with criminal negligence. It did NOT order the CTA to improve the tracks. It did NOT order the CTA to use its gifts to corporations – like the 58 million dollar subsidy now going to Hilton Hotels for its new building above Union Station – to finance adequate transit maintenance. NO. Instead, it let the CTA institute miles of slow zones on its rail routes, causing long delays for travelers going to and from work and wasting numerous hours of their time every week!
In other words, the NTSB is complicit in the degradation of the rail system.