Modernization of the CTA will be in vain if passenger safety is not the top priority

Lately, news circulating around the Chicago Transit Authority ranges from the ambitious $3.6 billion Red Line expansion plan to disturbing survival stories of people who have suffered violent attacks.

This week, for example, we were thrilled to learn that the nearly $29 million federal grant was being used to buy electric buses and help modernize the fleet while taking a small step toward fighting climate change. .

But the celebrations of technical improvements will be short-lived when Chicagoans remember the reality of the CTA today: the number of violent crimes on trains and buses has soared to a level not seen in more than a decade. .

Going forward, any plans to improve the CTA will be in vain if the safety of its riders is not the #1 priority.

In March, after a series of violent attacks on the CTA, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent. David Brown announced plans to hire more unarmed guards and reorganize Chicago Police Department resources to deal with “changing crime patterns”.

Only six police officers have been added to police transit units since then.

These results do not inspire confidence in commuters, especially when a Sun-Times analysis found that 488 attacks had been reported in the transit system in mid-July. This is the most since the same period in 2011, when 533 attacks were reported.

Dan Beam was kicked in the face and stabbed in the collarbone when he fought off two men and four others involved in his July attack on the Red Line. He stabbed three of his attackers before jumping off the train and calling for help.

“We all know this is unacceptable,” Beam said of the rise in violent crime on the CTA. “But the thing is, the city is not doing anything about it. It most certainly appears that the people currently responsible for the situation are not doing an adequate job.

Just three days after the Beam attack, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death when he and six others tried to rob a man on the red line.

Amid growing safety concerns, CTA Chairman Dorval Carter Jr. last week unveiled an updated plan for how the transit system would deal with surging violent crime. Expanding police patrols with the CPD, increasing the number of unarmed security guards from 200 to 300, and reintroducing canine units were part of the new strategy.

For the benefit of all transit users, we hope the agency will follow through on its plan.

Because while Chicagoans want to support and invest in a better, eco-friendly CTA, they won’t use public transportation if they’re too scared.

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