Chicago’s ‘Pace Bus’ puts safety Last

Public transportation is economical, convenient and great, until it’s not: A case for Lyft.

Pace 290 bus at the Howard CTA ‘L’ Station [file photo]

Pace Bus 290 departed Touhy / Western in Chicago at approximately 11:31AM headed east, and arrived at the Howard redline terminal (major hub of Chicago trains aka ‘the el’ or ‘L’) at 11:38AM, today, 7/12/17.

The bus driver was running 15-minutes late, give or take, and apparently needed to make up the time somehow. So he blew by the CTA Howard redline stop in an effort to ‘catch up’. I had to say out loud, STOP even though the “stop requested” sign was lit. Even when it’s not lit, they stop. Always. It’s where all the trains connect to the busses.

As I was rushing to get off the bus (where there are cameras onboard) my wallet either fell out or slipped onto the seat or floor. I always check my surroundings prior to leaving public transportation or ride sharing services to check if I have everything. But this was a different situation where I had to stay STOP, pull the stop cord, and run (nearly falling) to get off the bus and catch a train I now wish I had missed. It was jarring, quick and slipshod. After I’d realized my wallet was missing, the bus had already drove off.

I immediately called to have the driver paged. A Pace customer service rep said they would give me a return call “if the item was found” (curious at best). I said “please, it’s my wallet. I have no cash, no ID– nothing, can you call regardless of the outcome?”

15-minutes later, I hadn’t heard back, so I called and spoke to the same CS agent:

“I haven’t had time to call that in,” she said, drowsily.
“Really? You didn’t realize this was a time sensitive issue? Look, my entire life and at least $60 in cash is in there. Would you like it if the situation were reversed; if the helper wasn’t helping you?”
The Pace CS rep actually hung up on me.

And she sounded like she was dozing off. The opposite of busy. No background office noise, in fact, it sounded as dead as a doornail up in there.

It gets worse.

I called back to speak to a supervisor because obviously the other agent was a partially-commotose wall of cockblockery. Not even “sorry for your trouble,” or “this must be frustrating” or “wow that sucks” or any other human reaction. Just Plain Bored Jane, unbothered. After explaining the situation again to the supervisor, she audibly scoffed and said, “You do realize, sir (read idiot) that we’re not responsible for lost items” (more scoffing) skipping over the obvious safety issue. I said, “Yes, I understand all of that, but you are responsible for your drivers’ reckless behavior which caused this situation to begin with.” Supervisor hung up. This is actually happening. I didn’t curse. I didn’t yell, but I was treated as if I had. I am in disbelief but mainly mad as hell.

Per CTA instructions, I called the “Northwest Garage” and the dispatcher there contacted the bus driver. It took him under one-minute to figure out who it was since I had the exact time frame. He said the bus driver “pulled over to a safe location” (I assumed the driver was safe) and “is looking for the wallet right now.” After a brief hold he said “the driver searched the entire bus, and found no wallet.”

“What is the bus number and the driver’s name” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know, you just talked to him. I heard you on the walkie-talkie.”

The story changed to “I can’t release that information.”

Is this the Trump Organization or the CTA? It’s neither. It’s “Pace.” as in “at a slow.” (Murder She Wrote spoiler alert: the wallet is in the driver’s pocket.)

I called back Pace CS per the dispatcher. “Hi again. You need to not hang up on me when you don’t like dealing with your job, because this just got escalated. I’m filing a police report. Should I include the people who hung up on me in the report?”

Phone died.

No cash, no wallet, no ID. Super nice CTA guy gives me free pass; feels terrible about it because he heard all the conversations. He shook his head and said, “there’s footage of everything that happened on the security cam. Tell them you know this.”

Tweeted @PaceSuburbanBus my complaint. No response, even though they were answering other tweets which praised them. (I have the screen caps.)

The bus driver needs to be identified and investigated. This is clearly a safety issue. A haphazard driver rushing around and skipping stops in order to not be penalized by his supervisors should not trump safety, under and circumstance.