By Vince Gerasole

CHICAGO (CBS)—The day after the rush hour shooting in the CTA Blue Line tunnel, thousands of commuters went about their usual business Friday, but some wondered whether authorities did all they could during Thursday’s shooting.

When police responded to the shooting Thursday night, they claimed the CTA Blue Line at Jackson is one of the safest locations in the city. But commuters who were caught in the confusion stay they still have questions about the city’s response.

“It was chaotic,” said Jennifer Barbahen of Forest Park, who was on a train that pulled up to the Jackson station as shot were fired nearby.

During the commotion, she overheard people saying “There’s a shooter—people are shooting—they’re shooting up the place,” Barbahen said.

People were screaming and running down the platform, she said.

“The people in the (CTA) car didn’t really know what to do,” Barbahen said.

Barbahen said her train doors opened and no emergency announcements were made.

“So the people on the car weren’t sure what to do,” she said.

The CTA website tells riders that “CTA personnel are trained to assist customers in emergency situations” and to “listen carefully to what CTA or emergency personnel instruct.”

Barbahen, however, isn’t convinced the CTA has their proper emergency protocols in place.

“I don’t know what their training is,” she said. “The conductor didn’t seem to know what to do.”

Chicago Police said they conduct active shooter drills with the CTA.

Emergency instructions are usually relayed from police to dispatchers to CTA directors then to train operators.

The CTA Worker’s Union says the process takes way too long.

“There should be a plan or policy that allows our members to take action,” Local 308 president Kenneth Franklin said.

Transportation expert Joe Schwieterman said trains usually stop immediately when authorities are alerted to an active shooter situation.

In Europe, where the terrorism threat has been heightened in recent years, transit systems have adopted faster means of communication. Schwieterman said the U.S. needs to catch up.

“The protocol was not in place to stop that train in time, and that’s clearly something that fell between the cracks,” he said.

Schwieterman said there’s no doubt that will be part of the review the CTA says it will conduct in response to the situation. In the meantime, police continue to look for the gunman in Thursday’s incident.

The incident also sparked a conversation about whether CTA operators should be able to carry guns.

“Crime in Chicago has just spilled onto the transit system,” Franklin said. “My argument for safety has fallen on deaf ears.”

A city database shows 261 reports of crimes with guns on CTA trains, platforms and stations since 2014.

“Some people might feel like they need to carry,” Franklin said. “They might have a conceal and carry license to protect themselves.”

 

 

 

 

 

Vince Gerasole