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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by MetraF40C607
 
Hey all. Here's my story. Wednesday, I had a trip to Joliet planned. I was gonna hop 2216 at Schaumburg and enjoy the quick ride that it would be. I get there, get on the cab car, not ONE seat is open. "Of course" I think to myself. I walk up to the front door and set my camera bag, tripod, and scanner on the front step and sit. I recieved a phone call, and when done, I stood and watched the ride from my front row seat. Was going great.

At A-5, I pulled out my video camera. I'm building the MILW-W line for Train Dispatcher 3.5, a dispatchers simulator. I needed to know where the signals around A-2 and Western Ave were placed. At A-5, I began taping. 210 lead a westbound onto the West Line. We rounded the curve and hauled it to Western Ave. We had a red board for UP to cross us, but we were in the station long enough for the scoot to get across and go green. A Heritage set went past us for Western Ave Yard. The UP had four trains stacked waiting to get into California Ave. As we get to the split of the MILW and UP, I become aware of the man sitting to my right. He is on his phone turned towards the window, as though he's trying to hide his conversation.

I begin to listen, and I hear this,"Is it authorized for someone to stand at the front door of a cab car and take video as we are comming into Union Station?" ...............This gets my attention, quickly, I might add. He repeats himself, probably because his phone is a POS and Metra Police, Homeland Security, or whoever he was talking to couldn't hear him. After him repeating himself, I hear him utter,"Do you want me to stop him?" By this time, we're rounding Lake St, and I am absoluetly FLOORED by this guys audacity. At Lake St, I packed it up as he gave his info to whoever and got in line with the people getting off the train. I stood calm, like nothing had happend, knowing this man could bolt at me, grab me, stop me, and take me to the police like I am some kind of common criminal or a terrorist.

He didn't. I got off and walked into CUS and back out onto the adjacent platform to get to the Madison Street exit. I saw the man as I walked and raised my camera bag and tripod in the air as a sign of my rights.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I didn't ask the guy what the hell his malfunction was. I had an 8:30A.M. departure from LaSalle St. It was 7:58 when we pulled in. If I had had another hour, I would have had words. Now, I know, ya, he was watching out for common good, blah, blah, etc, but I donno man. It's getting worse every day. I'm 15 and can't even fan without being labeled "bad." Oh well, guess I just have to keep fighting the fight.

  by doepack
 
All things considered, it's fortunate nothing really happened, but it would have been a good idea not to confront the guy anyway, regardless of whether or not you had another train to catch. While taking video recordings from the front window of the cab car isn't wrong, it's probably not a good idea to do it during rush hours, since the odds of arousing suspicion among the uninformed public are greater during that time of day. Next time, in an effort to minimize the risk and potential hassle, keep the camcoder in the bag until after rush hour...

(BTW, if you need any help with building your TD3 file, contact me off list...)

  by MikeF
 
Like it or not, video taping from the front door is a suspicious activity (albeit not wrong or prohibited), and doing it during the middle of rush hour is just asking for somebody to take exception. The outcome in your case really isn't surprising. Harsh confrontation with the uninformed public -- when you have time -- does not help "fight the fight."

  by JLJ061
 
It could be whomever the guy was talking to (Metra Police, Homeland Security, etc.) might have already set him straight, since he didn't pursue it any further; Though in my experience there are some people who will simply take the matter into their own hands if they don't receive the answer they want to hear.

In any case, you did the right thing by not confronting the man. More than likely it would have escalated the situation into something much more serious.

  by F40CFan
 
doepack wrote:All things considered, it's fortunate nothing really happened, but it would have been a good idea not to confront the guy anyway, regardless of whether or not you had another train to catch. While taking video recordings from the front window of the cab car isn't wrong, it's probably not a good idea to do it during rush hours, since the odds of arousing suspicion among the uninformed public are greater during that time of day. Next time, in an effort to minimize the risk and potential hassle, keep the camcoder in the bag until after rush hour...

(BTW, if you need any help with building your TD3 file, contact me off list...)
Unfortunately, on the MILW, the cab car is usually closed except during rush hour.

  by MetraF40C607
 
Had I confronted the man, I would have been calm about it and simply asked,"Sir, i'm sorry, is there a problem with what I am doing?" I don't have to be a smartass. I can do things quite nicely. Just irked me, though. I know, it looks "suspicious," but it isn't wrong as far as I know.

  by JLJ061
 
MetraF40C607 wrote:Had I confronted the man, I would have been calm about it and simply asked,"Sir, i'm sorry, is there a problem with what I am doing?" I don't have to be a smartass. I can do things quite nicely. Just irked me, though. I know, it looks "suspicious," but it isn't wrong as far as I know.
Welcome to today's society: Guilty until proven innocent. :P

  by MACTRAXX
 
Exactly! A gentleman I deal with said to me "Terrorists are to some people today what communists were to people in the 50s and 60s" I tend to wholehartedly agree. In some people's minds ANYONE is suspect! In the March 2006 issue of Potomac Rail News(Potomac NRHS Chapter) - P.8 there was a write-up on a 32-year old female graduate student of Indian descent that was hassled by the Maryland MTA Police after being called in taking pictures for a photography course at the Smithsonian Institute, at the MARC Penn Line Odenton,MD. station. The police took her information and had her wait upwards of an hour before determining that she was not a threat. In taking her info,the police asked her nationality and she said "American" - but with her dark complexion and South Asian looks,she felt humiliated. The Maryland MTA Police followed up with informing her a couple of weeks later that she had nothing to worry about. Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher felt like going to Odenton himself to see what would happen..so he took photos himself for 20 minutes without anyone saying anything. "Maybe..Was it the way I look?...." - WASHINGTON POST ...Some thoughts from MACTRAXX

  by F40CFan
 
MACTRAXX wrote:Exactly! A gentleman I deal with said to me "Terrorists are to some people today what communists were to people in the 50s and 60s"
It is sad, but remember the communists didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.

  by MACTRAXX
 
F40c: True-but back then in the 50s it was Sen. Joe McCarthy whipping up the paranoia and in the early 60s the Cuban Missile crisis as examples. It should be thought up as what COULD have happened...As for hassles the Morton Grove story with the guys looking for your namesake loco is a good example of what things can be...WE do NOT have to be paranoid of one another this way!! I think a simple explanation-without being confrontational-would be enough to explain intentions. Some thoughts from MACTRAXX

  by F40CFan
 
MACTRAXX: I agree with you that we are too paranoid. The only point I was making is that this time there was an actual attack, rather than just the threat. Therefore it will be longer before things calm down, if ever.

I think Pearl Harbor would be a better analogy.

  by MetraF40C607
 
Wow, throw this on top of it all. I was told by a Metra supervisor police officer that it is indeed illegal to take photos of trains from Metra platforms. Two reasons, one because it's tresspassing. The other is that whenever they get a call, they automatically think that the person that is there is a "prime suspect for terrorism." Needless to say, I got booted from Galewood, for the second time in 4 weeks.

So to sum it up, I guess it is illegal to take pictures on Metra platforms now. Ain't that something.

  by byte
 
MetraF40C607 wrote:So to sum it up, I guess it is illegal to take pictures on Metra platforms now. Ain't that something.
Talk to someone from a newspaper. On paper, it's legal to take pictures and Metra has said so. But human nature makes it "illegal" because it's easier for an officer to tell someone to go away rather than actually ask them what they're doing (which pretty much all railfans would have no problem doing). The Metra cops seemed to have gone by the book for a while after those guys got "busted" for getting F40C pictures - maybe it's time for another shakeup of the system?

  by JLJ061
 
Metra needs to get their policies on this in writing, once and for all, so there is no more confusion.

But unfortunately that is our biggest problem: People are a lot like electricity; They like to follow the path of least resistance. Like byte says, it's a lot easier and requires little effort to treat EVERYONE as suspect, rather than take the time and trouble to find out what they're really about.

  by MetraF40C607
 
Oh, you think i'm not gonna rage war?!?!? BAH! I'm emailing Metra with my situation to find out what the problem is. I am also going to include the exact quote from Trains Magazine when the Morton Grove incident happend and Metra expressed that "their cops are trained to let railfans take pictures from Metra stations." I may also get into the newspapers about this. I don't wanna rage war against the officers I had the talk with, but more with Metra's higher-ups, because if they wanna contradict themselves and tell me I can't take photos, i'm gonna rage war!