Chicago transit authority train noise exposure

2017-05-04T14:32:11Z (GMT) by Linh T. Phan Rachael M. Jones

To characterize noise exposure of riders on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains, we measured noise levels twice on each segment of 7 of the 8 CTA train lines, which are named after colors, yielding 48 time-series measurements. We found the Blue Line has the highest noise levels compared to other train lines, with mean 76.9 dBA; and that the maximum noise level, 88.9 dBA occurred in the tunnel between the Chicago and Grand stations. Train segments involving travel through a tunnel had significantly higher noise levels than segments with travel on elevated and ground level tracks. While 8-hr doses inside the passenger cars were not estimated to exceed occupational exposure limits, train operators ride in a separate cab with operational windows and may therefore have higher noise exposures than riders. Despite the low risk of hearing loss for riders on CTA trains, in part because transit noise accounts for a small part of total daily noise exposure, 1-min average noise levels exceeded 85 dBA at times. This confirms anecdotal observations of discomfort due to noise levels, and indicates a need for noise management, particularly in tunnels.