Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Metra210
 
Hi all,

I would like to inform you of two incidents that I have been a victim of over the course of two days, and they involve filming on CTA property. The first incident took place at the Chicago Red Line station on Thursday July 11th. I had filmed two northbound trains at the station, and as a southbound train was approaching the station, a track worker standing directly across from me told me that I am not allowed to film the trains because it is a terrorism concern. Several things went through my head, one being the fact that this guy saw me filming the two northbound trains and didn't say anything, another being "Since when did this rule take place," and the other being "if other people are doing it, then why am I being singled out all of a sudden?"

I did not argue with the guy, and I neither was I going to. If he said no, then he said no, so I stopped filming and put away my camcorder.

The second incident took place at the Harlem Green Line station on Friday July 12th. After exiting a train and making my way towards the nearest exit, I stopped to film an inbound UP West Line train that was pulling into the Oak Park station. When I stopped filming, I heard a CTA employee whistle and then shout "Hey, you can't do that here!" At this point, I was heading down the stairs, but in my mind, I'm thinking, "What is the big idea here?!"

There are numerous videos of CTA trains on my YouTube channel, and each time that I filmed trains before Thursday's incident, no one has told me that I cannot film trains on CTA property, so I am not sure why I am banned from doing so all of a sudden! Is anyone aware of any ordinance by CTA stating that a person may not take pictures of or film trains on any station platforms? Also, has anyone been in a similar situation by any chance?
  by Tadman
 
Print that page up and carry it with you. If you show people what's on corporate letterhead, they probably won't bother you anymore.

Further, and with all due respect to track workers, they're what's called "bottom of the totem pole". I wouldn't exactly take their advice as gospel.
  by byte
 
I've always figured that this is how it works, not just with the CTA but public transportation agencies in general:

1). Upper management sets a policy which permits photography, within reason. Most photos are fine, although if you're being unsafe or using a tripod then you'll be asked to stop.

2). Middle management takes it upon themselves to re-interpret this policy, and make it more restrictive than upper management ever intended it to be. Several years ago - and this may still be going on - CTA people were telling non-commercial photographers (basically people like us on this forum) that they needed special permits issued from CTA HQ in order to take any photos. Said permits for non-commercial photography did not exist per the official CTA photo policy (you know, the one set by upper management) on their website; it was just a way for middle management to exert their own influence over the issue.

3). Front-line employees (operators, station agents, etc) are informed of middle management's policy on photos, which can range from "you need a permit," "no photos at all," or if they're lucky, the actual policy as set by upper management. The policy they are informed of is what they enforce when encountering photographers. You can show a front-line employee the official policy as posted on the website, but if you're getting trouble from them in the first place, they've probably already been told something to the contrary by their supervisor.

In my opinion, the worst part about this level of disconnection between levels of employees is that there has apparently been no effort to fix it, when it seems pretty clear what's wrong. My guess is that no one has stepped forward to do so because it would result in people easily taking legal photos on CTA property, which - in some circles - is interpreted as being "soft on terrorists."
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Metra210 wrote:Hi all... There are numerous videos of CTA trains on my YouTube channel, and each time that I filmed trains before Thursday's incident, no one has told me that I cannot film trains on CTA property, so I am not sure why I am banned from doing so all of a sudden! Is anyone aware of any ordinance by CTA stating that a person may not take pictures of or film trains on any station platforms? Also, has anyone been in a similar situation by any chance?
See: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 61&t=75084" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by CHTT1
 
Hey, you got yelled at by two low-level operatives. Don't worry. Just keep doing what you've been doing.
  by Metra210
 
Otto Vondrak wrote:
Metra210 wrote:Hi all... There are numerous videos of CTA trains on my YouTube channel, and each time that I filmed trains before Thursday's incident, no one has told me that I cannot film trains on CTA property, so I am not sure why I am banned from doing so all of a sudden! Is anyone aware of any ordinance by CTA stating that a person may not take pictures of or film trains on any station platforms? Also, has anyone been in a similar situation by any chance?
See: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 61&t=75084" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You know? I initially thought about mentioning that topic when I started this one, but I decided not to do so. Regardless, if a track worker who feels that he's a member of upper management does tell me to stop filming, then I will stop, in order not to turn an inferior matter into a major case involving any law enforcement agencies. It isn't worth it.
  by Tadman
 
That's a smart position to take. If you have a copy of the policy you may try reasoning with them, but you gotta pick your battles.
  by Tom6921
 
When I visited Chicago in 2010, I took a few pictures at Howard and I saw someone else taking pictures. I did not know this other photographer.

Anyway, a CTA employee told the other photographer that he wasn't allowed to take pictures. Knowing he was wrong, I did what I consider to be right and stepping in and telling the employee that photography was allowed. He thought we needed a permit, and I told him that wasn't the case. A third person also joined in and took our side. I told the CTA employee to check his sources as we headed off on a Skokie bound train.

In addition to the CTA's photo policy on their website, I also have a friend who works in CTA's head office who's also a transit fan and a motorman at IRM.