Picture taken by David Wilson via Flickr
After a long day at work, lots of people ride the CTA for their commute back home from the city, or near the city. This is a time people use to reflect on the day they just experienced and relax. Nobody should have to worry if they’ll still have their belongings with them when they get home, or worry about if they’ll get home in general.
But unfortunately not everyone gets to experience a relaxing commute home. According to The Chicago Sun Times, Red Line crime has gone up 16 percent since last year. These crimes range from seriousness to petty theft, all the way to murder even. You would think if crime is escalating, then so would police involvement, but that’s not the case. A little over 90 percent of these crimes unfortunately go unsolved.
“Majority of the Red Line calls that we get are batteries or people fighting on the train” Jessica LaRocha, a Chicago Police Officer ,said. “The CTA attendant is typically good about what’s been going on throughout the day. We try and check the CTA platforms a few times throughout the day.”
The CTA provides the public with numerous ways of transport, but the very popular way is take the L trains. The L trains provide multiple different lines that are named by color. The Red Line is notorious for the range of crimes, more than the others. Here is a map to show all the Red Line stops.
Looking into these crimes is becoming very important when peoples safety is at risk. According to an article Michael Petro, a Chicago Criminal Defense attorney had published, the most dangerous L stop is on the Red Line. This stop is called “Belmont”. This stop happens to have the most assaults, burglaries, and sex crimes as well.
In addition to the dangerous background of the Red Line, it also presents an issue of skepticism. According to the Chicago Tribune, the El trains ridership is decreasing by a little over 3 percent a year. If people do not feel safe taking the Red Line home, then naturally they will find other means of transportation.
Jackson Red Line Stop from Nicholas Vranas on Vimeo.
Paige Calace, a woman who lived in the city for two years states “I lived in the Lakeview neighborhood and I took the CTA train everyday.” There are many people like Paige living in the city area who depend on this train so they can live their everyday lives. Paige also states “While living in the city, I did feel that the CTA was dangerous depending on what line I was taking, the neighborhood, and the time of day.
Calace also explained how numerous times she was taking the L train and there would be homeless people who ride all the time because it is a warmer and more comfortable place to sleep. This is something that can be taken advantage of when no security is around or aboard each car.
“I feel that this would ultimately lead to passengers getting harassed for change or even getting pick pocketed. I know there are a lot of issues with women riding alone and getting sexually assaulted. I think this can happen easily at times of the day when trains are less crowded or carts that have few passengers on board.”
Crimes like these are very hard to stop, especially when there is only one CTA personnel riding on the cart most times, and he/she is always all the way in front or in back. Increasing personnel on the trains could help stop frequent crime.
The potentially obvious solution to crime on the Red Line problem is to up the security on these trains, and increase the involvement of The Chicago Police Department. As Officer LaRocha told said CPD tries to patrol CTA trains and platforms a few times a day, which leaves a lot of time when officers are not present.
For the most part, the thing that has been done the best is warn people about some of the hotspots that a lot of these crimes take place. For example, CBS Chicago has released multiple articles on frequent stops with high rates of robbery. On some occasions, these situation happen in the tunnels that are used to exit the Lines station.
The CTA spent 33 million dollars on new cameras and security, if its cameras at the trans platforms, or if its cameras that are inside these train carts. The cameras usually do the job they are intended to do, and get photo and video evidence of these crimes. Unfortunately, most of these crimes do not lead to an arrest, or lead to people getting their belongings back. Below is a graphic showing some of the improvements that are being rolled out to CTA stations throughout the city.
The CTA is a huge resource to people who live in Chicago, or even people visiting who are trying to get around. Most of the time this resource is someone’s main means of transportation for work and pleasure. With the high volume of ridership, a high volume of security precautions should established and enforced. People shouldn’t have to worry about being assaulted or harassed on their way home.
Picture taken by David Wilson via Flickr
The City of Chicago is making massive strides in terms of improving CTA L-Train safety throughout the city. Most evident is their Safe & Secure project, a $33 million project to modernize and further expand our already extensive surveillance camera network, while also making other security improvements over the next few years. These improvements will continue to make the Red Line feel like a much safer option for transportation in the coming years.
Story by Nicholas Vranas and Matt Byrdak.