Man charged with stealing CTA bus, taking it for a ride
By JAMES SCALZITTI firstname.lastname@example.org July 6, 2012 12:26PM
Cori Martin, of Chicago, is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a fictitious/altered driver's license and criminal trespass. | Cook County Sheriff's Office photo
Updated: July 6, 2012 12:26PM
A 33-year-old West Side man took a CTA bus from a South Side garage and drove it to a West Side garage on Tuesday, but the agency said he did not make any stops nor pick up any passengers.
Cori S. Martin of the 4800 block of West Rice was charged Wednesday with two counts of unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a fictitious/altered driver’s license, and criminal trespass to state land, according to Chicago Police.
Martin was being held at the Cook County Jail on a $450,000 bond, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. His next court date is July 10 in Br. 44. at 3150 W. Flournoy St.
Martin’s ride took place about 11 p.m. Tuesday, according to CTA spokesman Brian Steele.
CTA personnel at the garage at 358 S. Kedzie Ave. questioned whether he was truly a bus driver, Steele said. It turned out he was impersonating a driver, wearing clothing resembling a CTA uniform with similar pants, shirt and vest. CTA personnel detained him and called police.
Martin was carrying a CTA radio and had a counterfeit CTA ID, Steele said. Investigators said earlier that evening he had took an out-of-service bus from the 77th street garage, where it was being serviced, and drove it to the Kedzie garage.
“It clearly appears the individual was familiar with CTA bus operations and procedures,” Steele said. “It was determined the driver did take the bus from one garage to another,” but “made no stops at bus stops (and) had no interaction at all with customers.”
Steele said Martin is not and never has been a CTA employee, and investigators have not verified reports that he may be related to a CTA driver.
It’s not the first time a man has impersonated a driver and taken a bus for a ride. In 2010, a man wearing what appeared to be a CTA uniform drove a bus out of the 103rd Street garage and picked up passengers. The bus he was driving later struck another bus, and when an employee went to alert a supervisor, the man fled.
Steele says the incidents were different because the latest one involved an out-of-service bus.
After Tuesday’s incident, the CTA immediately changed its driver sign-in process for buses going back into service, Steele said. There had been no established sign-in procedure.
“Immediately we changed that process,” Steele said. There is now a sign-in and check-out process for buses. “Additionally, we have increased our security presence at CTA bus garages. We have an outside security force that we use (and) basically we increased the personnel.”
Also last month, the CTA “took a step that will help us prevent this from occurring again,” he said.” “We approved a new timecard and payroll management system. Those systems are going to be able to track the assignment and movement of buses, and will add redundant layers of identification for drivers.”
“In a nutshell,” he said, “this new computer system records the bus number and driver ID number, and in order to operate the bus the driver will have to log on to an onboard terminal ... using a code. So it’s an electronic system to track the assignment of buses and add those redundant layers of identity.”
That system will be put in place in 2013.
The CTA also -- not in response to this incident, Steele said -- has begun installing more surveillance cameras at garages.
— Contibuting: Tina Sfondeles