Category Archives: Safety

Safety Interview with a CTA Rider

Ashley*, a UIC student who was robbed on the CTA, shares with us her experience through an online Q&A.

*Name has been changed

Q1: What happened when you were robbed on the CTA?
A: I was walking up the stairs to get to the train station when two men approached me from behind and told me to sit on the steps. One of them sat next to me while the other one stood in front of us. They told me to open my purse. The one sitting next to me went through my things and grabbed my wallet and cell phone. He took the money and my ATM card out of the wallet and gave it back to me. After that they ran away with the money, card, and the phone. During the whole time they kept saying that they would hit me if I did not do what they were telling me.

Q2: Where were you when this happened?
A: This happened at the Ashland green line stop.

Q3: What did you do afterward? (contact CTA staff, police, etc)
A: After they ran away I went upstairs to the station and told the security person. She then called the police and a “CTA security supervisor.” Both the police and the security supervisor asked me to recount what had happened. The police offered me to drive me home but at that point I had already called my husband to pick me up.

Q4: What could the CTA have done to prevent this sort of situation or help make it safer?
A: The police asked me a few times to describe the men. It happened in the winter so it was dark at 4pm. In addition I was so scared that I could not really look at them. I wish CTA had cameras at the stations. Maybe the police would have caught these men if they were able to identify them from a video.

Q5: Was there security involved? (camera footage, CTA staff to help, emergency buttons, etc)
A: There was a security person inside the station but she did not see anything. I think that at the time when it happened, they did not have cameras at that station. Later, I found out that they were installing security cameras.

Q6: How has this affected the way you view the CTA or the way you travel on it now?
A: The first months after the incident I was scared to take the train. Now I am a lot more cautious and I pay more attention to my surroundings and people on the CTA.

Q7: What do you use the CTA for? (shopping, school, work, etc)
A: I use CTA a lot, actually. I [ride the CTA for] school, shopping, work, and entertainment. I would say I am on the CTA at least 4 to 5 days a week.

Q8: What are safety tips that you would give someone taking the CTA trains or buses?
A: Definitively be aware of your surroundings. Always look back before going up or down the stairs at certain train stations.


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Filed under Interviews, Safety, Uncategorized

Safety and Security

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According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, there were 581 reported CTA robberies in 2010 and 294 robberies from the time period of January through May of this year, resulting in a 23 percent increase. This information was received from the Chicago Police Department and includes reported crimes located in CTA parking garages and lots, trains, buses, and platforms. Many people attribute these rising crime rates to the popularity and demand of smartphones. According to officials, the act of stealing smartphones from people waiting for trains and buses is typically referred to as “Apple-picking.”

When asked about the increase in robberies on CTA premises, CTA president Forrest Claypool responded, “This is the reason the Chicago Police Department is deploying more undercover officers, a visible wolfpack deterrent that can move between trains, and why the CTA is speeding up the installation of security cameras. We are trying to be agile and effective in responding to criminal activity and hooliganism, and making sure our riders can feel safe and secure on our system.”

One of the CTA concerns that has improved tremendously throughout the years has been safety and security, and although crime is still high, the city and CTA officials are actively working to provide safer transit. Securing the safety of passengers is a goal that the CTA has tried to accomplish through various means, such as installing security cameras in buses and train platforms, assigning more policemen to patrol platforms and transportation. Some other attempts at covering safety issues are posting a security tips brochure on their website and placing emergency instructions in each train car.

The Chicago Transit Authority’s YouTube Channel continues to update their channel with video postings on current efforts to build a safer travel environment, such as this video on safety tips and evacuation procedures. But how effective can a security tips brochure, emergency instructions and safety buttons be in ensuring a safe, hassle-free ride for CTA customers?

Our guess is not so much. But there is hope.

The following YouTube video explains how the Chicago mayor and CTA officials plan to improve safety conditions on CTA property through various means such as an increase in high-tech security cameras as well as more patrol by police officers:

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool have looked into the CTA safety problems and implemented a new plan to install double the amount of current cameras on CTA premises by the end of 2011. The new cameras that have been installed since June of this year have aided in capturing 13 criminals thus far.

According to an article from ABC’s local news website, the city is spending a reported $15 million to install an additional 1,500 cameras, totaling 3,000 cameras across Chicago. One controversy that has sparked out of CTA’s technology budget has been the implications on CTA customers in regard to increasing fare hikes and cuts in bus and train services. Mayor Emmanuel responded to the controversy by replying, “We have some choices to make. And they’ll lay out their budget, but it’s clear that we’re investing and making sure that the dollars do not sit in the bureaucracy — they go right to the platform, right to the bus shelter.”

Although the security of passengers remains a significant concern regarding the CTA, improvements and future goals are actively being pursued within the realm of CTA safety. Until then, it is up to Claypool and other CTA officials to decide how to pursue these goals within the company’s budget.

We’d like to ask our readers: What do you think about the new spending plans on high-tech security cameras on CTA premises? Will this benefit consumers in the end, or will there be larger implications?

By Diana Park

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Filed under Budget, Finances, Improvements, Multimedia, Safety