CHICAGO — O’Hare International Airport’s trouble-automated train system broke down again this weekend. It was out of service for seven hours on Sunday forcing passengers to board buses to move between terminals, remote parking and the rental car facility.
“The outage was caused by a mechanical failure on board a train stationed at Terminal 3, and extensive work was required by ATS engineers to remove the train from service and safely restore the system’s operations,” according to an airport spokesperson.
WGN Investigates has reported on the train system’s reliability in the year since it fully reopened to the public.
Records revealed the train system had to be taken off-line for at least 30 minutes or more 53 times in the first 10 months it had fully reopened. Some of the outages were for planned maintenance or software upgrades, but the train system unexpectedly failed to function on 17 days due to weather or various system failures, airport officials acknowledged.
The outages have caused passengers to miss connecting flights and diminished perceptions of the airport, especially in the eyes of sought-after connecting international passengers.
“I’m very confident in saying: I will never fly through O’Hare again,” passenger Kristen Fundo told WGN Investigates in February after she traveled from Saudi Arabia and missed her connecting flight to Memphis due to an outage during the busy Christmas travel period. “It ended up being a full two hours of waiting outside in 17-degree weather,” she said of the airport’s backup bus plan.
In 2021, WGN Investigates reported on delays and problems with upgrades to the automated airport train.
The Chicago Department of Aviation responded to WGN News’ request for comment, issuing the following statement:
“The Airport Transit System (ATS) at O’Hare International Airport was out of service for approximately seven hours on Sunday, April 16, beginning around 1:15 p.m. The CDA apologizes to any O’Hare passengers and employees who were inconvenienced by Sunday’s service interruption. Immediately after the outage began, the CDA launched bus shuttle service between all terminals and the Multi-Modal Facility, and additional buses were added to this service throughout the afternoon and evening hours to meet growing passenger loads. The outage was caused by a mechanical failure on board a train stationed at Terminal 3, and extensive work was required by ATS engineers to remove the train from service and safely restore the system’s operations. ATS service resumed shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday. Additional details about the source of the mechanical failure remain under investigation. The CDA thanks O’Hare passengers and employees for their patience as the agency continues its work to preserve a high level of reliability for the ATS.”