CTA Cracks Down on Homeless


Totally agree. I have a tough time dealing with the attitude of so-called liberals who complain about homeless people on public transport. Suck it up and deal.
Doesn't ride-free make the collection process better, by spreading out collection across a lot of residential stops instead of concentrating it downtown where everyone's getting on and off? If everyone on Third Ave had to pay as they entered, it'd be a logjam, no?

Better would be to get rid of collection, have people buy tickets at the stop using boxes like the ones now used for parking. Then everyone could get on and off quickly without paying upon entry or exit.
I have seen drivers wake people up and have, coincidentally, had to get off at the last stop and witnessed drivers kicking everyone off.

#2 Get rid of the Free Zone, but your idea of buying tickets at stops downtown might work, though I expect that the machines would have to be constantly be filled, be vandalized, and broken into, so maybe it's not such a good idea. Get rid of the ride free zone!
@2: no. It makes it almost impossible to get off sometimes if you're trying to leave through the front. I think maybe about half to three-fourths of the time the driver opens the back anyway, because we can't get through, and I walk off without paying. (I have a bus pass, so I've paid already, really.) It's awful.
Hey ECB:

No need to worry about the homeless: they're pretty savvy (or they'd already have frozen to death). Unless they sleep through to the end of the line, all they have to do to circumvent this attempt at stench management by the CTA is get off one stop before the end of the line and get the next train going in the other direction. Simple as pie. The go out and pay again thing can only be enforced at the heavily patrolled terminals. And I guarantee that the first time some non-homeless person who missed their stop and tries to get on a train going the other direction is told to go out and pay, and refuses, the lawsuits will ensue and this policy will cease.

Also, CTA employees are human, and will let the homeless alone if they can get away with it.
What does
If we aren't willing to pay for places for homeless people to go to get out of the weather

Are you under the impression we don't currently pay for places for the homeless people to go to get out of the weather?
I haven't seen any of these signs yet and I take the El twice a day. Also, will the homeless be reading these signs?

Anyway, as much as I love my shaggy neighbors who pee their pants while sitting in the seat or crap in the corner next to the empty conductor's booth of rear cars, we don't exactly have a surfeit of homeless riding the train. Honestly. I can't see this being an epidemic of injustice.
If ECB isn't willing to buy me my own house, does she really have the right to complain when I camp out in her living room?
Those of us who vote to build transit and who choose to ride it are not the ones who are unwilling to pay to house the homeless. The connection you draw is mistaken.
The signs are posted at Howard and 95th and other terminals. And during my morning commute in the cold months, every single car on the Red Line trains going into Howard has two or three homeless on it; I choose where to sit based on aroma.
@6, There aren't enough shelter beds and they are usually open at night-time only. If you've seen shelters, they're often not very clean and a lot of homeless people would rather brave it outdoors due to issues like lice, claustrophobia, homophobia, racism, etc.

Seattle has done a great job of providing homes to the formerly homeless but there's quite a wait list and one mistake makes it so you're back on the street. Get ready for the number of homeless to skyrocket due to layoffs and a lack of hiring. Unemployment checks only last so long.
Personally, I don't give a damn if someone is sleeping on the bus as long as they only take up one seat. If they sleep through their stop, that's their lookout.
As long as you don't mind public transit remaining a live option exclusively for the retarded, crippled, elderly, homeless, insane, students, and marginally employed, you're right.
Rock over London, Rock on Chicago. Ford, quality is job one.
I've always voted for transit. And over the last ten years or more I don't recall rising from the couch to protest as my elected officials kept hacking significant funding for services to those hit with homelessness, addiction, and especially mental illness. Wonder if I'm the only one.
No David I think the argument goes something like this:

If you pass zoning laws that drive low-income hotels out of business downtown, then zone the rest of the city and suburbs so that SRO hotels can no longer be built or operate independently, then you have just intervened in the "free market" to ensure that the poorest of the poor cannot have their housing needs met by private developers ANYWHERE.

This makes the poorest of the poor increasingly dependent upon government and social services for aid, and increasingly more likely to perform "private" acts in "public" that those middle class people disapprove of. Punishing poor people for then using public space-- parks, libraries, transit and jails-- while not even bothering to siphon enough of the profits from the city's redevelopment to cover the cost housing all homeless who need basic shelter, is cruel. But it's an act of cruelty that is rationalized daily by people's contempt and fear of the poor, which erases the entire history of how the city profits from their displacement.
My dad was a CTA bus driver for over 20 years. He drove night cars because they were more money. There was a homeless guy who used to ride the bus with him all night. They became friends. The guy was a little schizo -- just mentally ill enough to not be able to hold down a job, but not ill enough to attract attention or be dangerous. My dad paid for him to get a chaffuer's licence and the guy started driving a cab for a living. Turned his life around.
@11 -- The question regards places for homeless people to go get out of the weather. It has nothing to do with shelter beds. Trains and buses in Seattle don't operate as shelter beds, either.

BTW, please don't pretend the problem of homelessness is just a factor of how many shelter beds the city provides.
Enter and always pay in the front, exit in the back. Works fine in Vancouver, BC.
@18, I'm not at all. I think shelter beds are an absolute last resort and hopefully soon we'll get to a point where we don't need any shelter beds at all. You aren't very specific. What places do we pay for that let the homeless get out of the weather, then? The library?
I'm a downtown social worker. Without the free ride zone in the downtown core, the barrier to service access for some of my neediest clients would be prohibitive.

Yeah, the problem of homelessness is more complex than shelter beds. But we've got about 8000 homeless, and 6000 shelter beds. And by "beds" I mean "thin mats on the floor with 6 inches of clearance on either side". With roughly 2000 people on the street every night, many of them elderly and frail, it's understandable that they would ride the 194 all night.

Homelessness will skyrocket, but it doesn't follow that there will be more people seeking shelter on public transport. In my experience, otherwise employed people sleep in their cars or on relatives' couches in dire times. The people you see on the street who are obviously homeless have issues way beyond not being able to find work.
Getting rid of the ride free zone is crazy. Buses would get so stuck downtown if everyone getting on and off had to pay at that moment!

The ride-free zone isn't there because of charity or whatever, it's there because riding the bus downtown would be a disaster without it.
I like when the trains smell like pee!
What andrew said.

The Magic Carpet Ride system was the best transit idea Seattle had since the 1926 subway. Collecting fares downtown would slow the system to a crawl.
We already need to have buses skip stops on second and third to accomodate them all, do we really want them stopping a lot longer on downtown streets to collect fares? Should we go to every 4th stop?
keshmeshi@22, most of the "obvious" homeless you mention aren't even homeless. All kinds of people can be dirty, or addicts, or mentally ill, but many of them have homes that are paid off (they usually aren't born dirty/addicted/mentally ill), caring relatives, or live in transitional housing. About 50% of the "homeless" population in KC lives in transitional housing.

A lot of people here on Slog who aren't homeless would be if they were laid off and couldn't find a good job for a year. You can couch surf for a while, but that gets old fast. Some people have relatives who can take them in, some people don't or don't want to be dependent on them. Sitting in your car for an entire rainy week isn't tolerable for most people. So where do you go? Libraries, public transit, loitering in other public places, etc.

More info: http://www.cehkc.org/Scope.aspx
I think we should put the homeless up in CEO's homes.

That sounds fair.
Get rid of the free ride zone? Hell, the homeless have to do their drugs somewhere. Plus it gives them a captive audience for their cardboard signs so they can fleece people for more money to buy more drugs to do on other buses.
@ 28 - Right, because CEO's are the root cause of homelessness.

Hey, Will - 1968 is on the phone and they want you to return their comic-book version of liberalism that you borrowed some time ago. Oh and Motorhead is on line two asking if you could sing back-up vox on "Eat the Rich."
I don't get all the complaints about street people on the buses. I ride the buses with some frequency downtown, and sure, there's usually a few street people, but most of them aren't really that much of a problem. You guys sound like the right wingnuts on the PI's Soundoffs bitching about "those people" hanging out at Southcenter. It's public transportation. It's free downtown. That means some street people are gonna take the bus from the homeless shelter or the food bank to the library. It's really not that big a deal most of the time. I don't get the extreme whining about it.
As someone who's relied exclusively on public transit for the past 10 years, in Chicago, New York, and now Seattle...let me just say that if you want people who can actually SUPPORT transit using it (i.e., "people with jobs"), it behooves a city to make sure said transit is not overflowing with people who smell like urine.

I'm not saying that any city should or should not provide for its less fortunate, more urine-smelling. I'm just saying that the "lucky" transit riders start off buying ipods, or Kindles, or other handhelds to ease their commute and try to block out the crazy.

But eventually they just buy a car.
"...although I can't recall a single driver ever calling out a commuter for sleeping on the way to or from work on my express bus."

Come on, Erica -- the driver on my 13 route stopped the bus not once, not twice, but *thrice* to wake up a sleeping homeless guy who kept listing over onto his side and snoring loudly.
For fuck's sake is right, Erica! The One Night Count in in January 08 found the number of people using the Night Owl buses for shelter to be 171 in the Greater Seattle Area. Nobody WANTS to sleep on the bus all night, but shelter options dwindle in the Winter. Also, many shelters can't keep up with rising costs, the city budget is a fucking nightmare with human services getting hit and private donations are way down thanks to the economy. How can folks fault the homeless for doing what they can to survive? Wouldn't you?

I just can't wrap my head around the fact that many housed folks are just fine with people dying in the streets! 7 new homeless deaths have occurred since October. That's 41 one confirmed homeless deaths this year. Thanks, Erica, for drawing attention to this issue, and a big fuck you to people who don't give a damn.
The original idea behind the ride-free area was that there would be no delay in collecting fares while downtown.
No, the idea was to increase mobility of customers.

But people kept driving their damned cars.
A couple of the commenters sound like they think free buses are a logical place for homeless to sleep, pee, etc. Umm... What the hell are you thinking? Buses are for transportation. More people need to use buses and other alternatives for transportation, or the earth is basically going to shrivel up and die.