CTA Has Paid More Than $300K For Bus Drivers Who Blow Through Red Lights

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Transit Authority is defending its policy of paying the $100 fine when a bus driver gets nailed at a “photo-enforced” red light intersection.

How much is that costing the cash-strapped CTA?  The answer might surprise you, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

The amount: $340,000. That’s what the CTA has paid to cover bus drivers who blow through red lights at one of those intersections where the cameras lie in wait.

New figures from the CTA tell the story. There were 1,313 violations in 2008; 1,222 in 2009 and down to 875 last year.

The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union that represents the drivers, Darrell Jefferson, defends the payouts.

“If I was in my personal car, I would have to pay. But I’m bonded by the CTA. I work for the CTA,” he says.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez says the decline in red-light tickets in 2010 is because of a safety crackdown.

“The driver understands that if they obtain a red-light ticket, they will be disciplined (with a) safety violation,” he says. “And that it counts toward their potential termination. I think that carries as much weight as would an actual their having to pay a fine.”

If a driver gets four red-light tickets within a two-year period, the driver is fired. So far, it’s happened to three CTA bus operators.

The money to cover the fines is taken out of the new higher fares dropped by passengers into the fare box.

  • Anthony Steven Warnelis

    How many CTA drivers who may have received bonuses of any kind–if they do–were still allowed their bonus if they had even ONE red-light ticket? STOP PAYING THE BONUSES TO BAD DRIVERS.

    Bigger question. Although “bonded” to the CTA, do these citations result in ANY notation on their files at the Office of the Secretary of State in Springfield? If not, WHY not.

    The number of fines and the amount of running the red lights is just unconscionable! Worse, likely truth be told, they all blow through about tTEN times more stop SIGNS than red lights!!

  • JeanSC

    I understand the money and safety angles here, but I’d like to see some full-length videos of these offenses. Reason being, a CTA bus has a very large mass and tremendous momentum once it starts going. The lurching is bad enough as it is, but we don’t want buses to stop when sticking out in an intersection to avoid a red-light ticket. Some of these “offenders” might have started on a yellow light (which is legal) and just barely entered the intersection when the light changed to red and the camera snapped. Meanwhile, cross traffic is required to wait until it’s safe to cross even though it just got the green light. So there may not have been any safety risks involved. Consider what it’s like when you’re driving, belted in, and you slam on the brakes facing a sudden red light. Then consider the passengers on a CTA bus – none of whom have the security of seat belts, and some of whom are standing up.

    • Roberta Waker

      You are aware that there is a yellow light BEFORE the light turns red, aren’t you? That gives drivers plenty of time to come to a safe stop whether they are driving a bus or car. To get a ticket; it’s my understanding that you START OUT with a red light. If you don’t like to get lurched, either find a seat or drive. If a bus driver goes through one red light; give him a bye; two red lights and he should get fired. PERIOD.

  • DAR


  • Larry

    All these cameras do is cause people to ride their brake when approaching an intersection, slam on their brakes when approaching an intersection or gun their engine when approaching an intersection. All three actions are very dangerous and cause accidents. These cameras aren’t about safety. They’re about revenue. End of story.

    • The Truth

      EXACTLY!!!!! I’ve seen enough reports that testify that accidents have INCREASED at some intersections due to these cameras!!! Anyone get popped for going through a green light?? I have, and I contested it in writing and 6 months later I was notified “upon review the fine has been waived, there will be no further action in this case”. A win for me, and a big F-OFF to those who support camera-lights!!!!

  • Brian B

    When a CTA bus driver gets a red light violation, that driver is suspended for three days without pay. The money that would have been used to pay the driver for those three days is used to pay the violation. Tax payers PAY NOTHING. It’s amazing how the media only gets HALF THE STORY. If that same driver gets another violation within 24 months; they ARE FIRED. That was not in the story either. VERY POOR REPORTING.

    • Roberta Waker

      Glad to see someone else that doesn’t like the reporting done by the AP. Their reports are often incomplete or biased. Are you aware that the AP has asked the State of Illinois for a list of names and other personal information for people owning FOID cards? Why in the hell do they need that information, except to invade our privacy and let the crooks know where to steal guns. The AP is totally out of control and they need to be stopped NOW. They might want YOUR name, address, social security number, etc. if they win this battle.

  • Jim

    I’m sure they are protected by the unions. Who cares if they break the law and potentially cause an accident.

  • Ileen

    What type buses are they driving? I can see the long buses are getting tickets. They need to investigate the locations of the cameras. It sounds excessive.

  • taxpayer

    $340,000 is paid by CTA to the City of Chicago, one government agency to another. There’s no real financial impact, unlike so many corrupt practices which get little media attention.

  • Roberta Waker

    Unless there is an accident with conflicting stories about the color of the light; these cameras should NOT be allowed. The mere presence of these cameras causes more problems than they resolve. And, aren’t they unconstitutional because you have the right to cross examine your accuser in the event of an arrest and charges of a crime?

  • Southside

    This is all nonsense. Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul! Bureucratic B.S. You would think the antigovernment tea partiers would be having a field day here. Is a busdriver allowed any discretion on how to navigate the streets, or should he have to lock ’em up everytime, because Big Brother is watching?

  • Pearllee

    This drivers are loonies by blowing through red lights. Where are they going that fast? Psychological tests should be taken on each one of them because they need to react to situations that require an orderly conduct.
    How old are this drivers that do not follow the rules of the road?
    Are they in compliance wth State regulators for transporting people from one place to another?
    We all wonder if it is safe to ride on a bus.

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