Keep the Red Line Peace

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.
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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.


Houston Timelapse

houstonSince the 1980’s Houston as a city has been growing rapidly to reach it’s current position of fourth largest U.S city by population. Houston has become a popular choice for young entrepreneurs, as it has a stable job market, diverse cultures, and affordable housing. In years past, the city was ranked number one by Forbes for paycheck worth, and was included in Forbes list of “Best Places for Business and Careers.”

As shown in this timelapse graphic created using Google Timelapse, Houston has undergone some massive infrastructure growth. This growth is not only obvious in the heart of the city of Houston, but also the surrounding metropolitan areas, such as Sugar Land and Baytown. In 1984 you can notice that Houston already had decent infrastructure, but was heavily expanded on to accommodate for the rapid population growth, as is evident in 2016. Houston is continuously proving itself to be one of the most attractive places to live in the United States.

Red Sox Attendance at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox are on of the most historic teams in the MLB, and most of that history resides in the legendary Fenway Park. With the Red Sox recently advancing to 2018 The World Series, it’s worth analyzing their attendance at this legendary park going back a hundred plus years.

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This graph gives great insight into the growth that occurred not only within the Boston Red Sox organization over a huge time period, but also for the sport itself as popularity rocketed. Huge spikes in popularity can be seen to have occurred all throughout the mid 1900’s to even modern day. Within the past decade however the Red Sox have been thriving in terms of yearly home attendance at Fenway. This is due to not only to star studded talent such as Mookie Betts and Chris Sale, but also a deeply rooted passion within Red Sox fans that keep them connected to Fenway and it’s history. A history of legendary caliber players, the likes of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Pedro Martinez.

The 2018 World Series will be a classic that I am sure, and according to ESPN, the Red Sox are already off to a slight lead going into game one tomorrow night.

View the full figure here

Google Trends: Khalil Mack

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Above is a graph constructed from Google Trends data for Khalil Mack google searches compared to Chicago Bears google searches. A main reason for choosing this was to cross compare the data on the day Khalil Mack was acquired by the Bears via trade. On September 1st, 2018 you can see that Mack not only hit’s his yearly high for searches, but as well do the Bears. In the following weeks you can see that Mack still remains searched, but no where near as much as on the trade date. For the Bears however you can see that they were being searched heavily after the first few weeks of the season, and have only recently dipped but are on the rise once again. This graphic is a good sign to Bears fans everywhere, as it shows a clear increase in popularity.

Interactive Graph

Google Trends: Powerball vs. Mega Millions

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Above is a Google Trends graphic showing the google searches for the key-words “Powerball” and “Mega Millions” over the last year. Just this past Friday, there was a $620 million Powerball, as well as a ridiculous $1.6 billion for the Mega Millions. When comparing the two, you can see that the Powerball had Mega Millions beat for searches when the Powerball was drawn for $460 million on January 3rd, 2018. The Powerball hasn’t been too popular for the rest of 2018 until this weekend, where it still only reached 45 on the interest over time. When comparing the Mega Millions, it’s clear that this is one of the biggest drawings of all time. This past weekend netted a 100 on the interest over time, showing that this is the peak for Mega Millions on the year.

Interactive Graph

Chicago Cubs Attendance

The graph below shows the attendance at Cubs by year from 2007 to 2016. This information was provided by the Chicago Cubs. the The Cubs hit an all time high in 2008, with an attendance of 3,300,000. The attendance declined in the following years and continued until 2014. In 2015 the club made massive trade moves which would lead to a 2016 World Series championship. With this came an obvious increase in attendance, and the atmosphere at Wrigley has been restored to what it was in 2008.

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Quinn: Illinois Pensions Threatening MAP Grants

Pat Quinn Photo

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 


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