CTA Adopts Zero Tolerance Policy on Employee Use of Electronic Devices While On-Duty

August 5, 2009

The Chicago Transit Authority is strengthening its prohibition against employee use of electronic devices while operating buses and trains by adopting a zero tolerance policy. This includes the use of cellular phones, smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), MP3/music players, wireless headsets or any other appliance or device. The new policy goes into effect immediately.

The adoption of the zero tolerance policy accelerates the disciplinary process for any employee operating a CTA bus and train while using or displaying an unauthorized electronic device.

"I’ve observed the use of these devices and agree that it is a distraction," said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez. "From my conversations with customers and feedback sent to the CTA, it is clear that there is a genuine concern about the safety of using these items while driving. Research data validates that driving distracted is unsafe. We are taking these steps to reinforce our commitment to providing a safe environment for customers, employees and the general public."

CTA’s decision to adopt a zero tolerance policy on cell phones and electronic devices is consistent with industry trends. Transit agencies across the country have adopted similar guidelines recently.

Under the new policy, the use of a personal electronic device by bus or rail personnel while operating a CTA vehicle or equipment is a dischargeable offense.

On buses, use of a cellular phone while on duty only is permissible if a bus operator needs to notify the CTA Control Center of an incident and communication through the onboard Bus Emergency Communications System cannot be completed. In such an occurrence, the operator must properly curb the bus before placing the call to Control. At all other times, bus operators must have their personal devices turned off and properly stowed while on duty.

Possession and use of personal electronic devices by CTA rail operators and rail maintenance personnel who are on duty are prohibited. Rail operators and personnel are provided with CTA-issued radios and, when working in subways, are provided CTA cell phones to provide back-up communications to the Control Center.

Under the CTA’s previous policy, an employee could accrue up to four violations before a recommendation for discharge was considered. With the strengthened policy, discipline will be accelerated and having possession of an electronic device will result in probation and a three-day suspension. Use of the device while on duty can lead to discharge. 

CTA strongly encourages all customers to be vigilant and to report any instance in which an employee operating a bus or train is found to be using an electronic device. Customers should provide as much information as possible such as the bus/train number, employee I.D., route and the date and time of the incident to CTA Customer Service directly at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. or via e-mail at feedback@transitchicago.com.

CTA Customer Service for the Hearing Impaired can be reached at 1-888-CTA-TTY1 or 1-888-282-8891. 

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