O'Hare's new cellphone lot, old plates and privacy worries: Your transit questions
Why is the Regional Transportation Authority asking personal questions on its forms to renew fare cards?
Reader John Gleason wondered, and we have answers in this column dedicated to readers' questions and comments.
Gleason's wife recently received a renewal form from the RTA for her senior reduced-fare card. "The renewal form is simple enough, but it seems to ask for an inordinate level of private information in this era of rampant identity theft," said Gleason, an Arlington Heights resident.
The form seeks a photocopy of an applicant's driver's license, plus name, address and date of birth. "What makes this form especially troubling is that it also asks for her Social Security number. So this single form requests all the so-called keys to the kingdom for identity theft. And on top of that, she is directed to mail it to a P.O. box in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Why Indiana?" Gleason wondered.
"I understand that they need to verify certain information, but it seems that asking for Social Security numbers is overreach," he said.
RTA spokeswoman Susan Massel said she understood Gleason's concern.
"Going forward, as we reprint this application, we will be eliminating this question from the application. Many riders have voiced this concern. However, we do plan to exhaust our current application inventory before we reprint," Massel said.
"In the meantime, please assure your reader that he does NOT have to provide the Social Security number on the application. He can just leave that information blank."
Next, Paul Novak of Warrenville is no fan of O'Hare International Airport's new cellphone lot location and also finds the signage to be confusing.
Novak wrote that the new location "increases traffic at the Terminals 1 to 3. Anyone picking someone up at Terminals 1, 2 or 3 must now drive through Terminals 1 to 3 and park, wait for a call, and then drive around the terminals a second time. At the old cellphone lot locations, picker-uppers only drove into the terminals one time.
"It's worse for picker-uppers at Terminal 5," he added. "I previously always told people how great the cellphone lot was and encouraged them to use it.
"My opinion has changed 180 degrees. I'll never use the cellphone lot again. I'm telling everyone to avoid it."
The new location is permanent, but the Chicago Department of Aviation wants to hear and will consider feedback from customers, spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said.
The cellphone lot was moved in September because of construction on new Runway 9-Center/27-Center. The new location, with 86 spaces, is a west parking area off Recirculation Road, closer to the terminals. For directions, go to flychicago.com/ohare/tofrom/dropoff.
Finally, Chet Przybyslawski wants to know "if there's a safe way to dispose of old license plates, now that the state has issued new ones?"
Why, yes, Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker responded. "The easiest way to get rid of old plates is to take them to one of our secretary of state driver services facilities, and we destroy them and recycle the material. I can't emphasize this enough: Get the plates off the car you are selling or donating," Druker explained.
Przybyslawski had a follow-up: "I previously had plastic protective covers over my plates to protect them from the harsh Illinois winters. The new license plates are about a sixteenth of an inch larger and the covers no longer fit. Nothing was said about the size change. How come?"
The specs did not change for the new plates, Druker said. He also cautioned that license plate covers should not be used because "the reflection can make it difficult to read for law enforcement" and could lead to a ticket.
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