CTA expands security after attacks


By Robert C. Herguth

Date of Publication: February 8, 2000
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


The CTA will install security cameras on select train platforms and stairwells, and private security guards who now protect fare card machines will start patrolling L stations in response to recent attacks on riders, officials said Monday.

The agency is also conducting a station-by-station survey looking for ways to improve security. Pointing out that a recent murder and two sexual assaults on CTA property allegedly involved homeless people, CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said the organization has created a task force that will "come up with a safe and humane mechanism" for keeping the homeless from making trains "a shelter."

Agency officials also disclosed they plan to remove the last of their conductors from subway trains on the Red and Blue lines in late March. Critics have said the elimination of conductors on other routes has compromised safety, but the CTA's security experts said serious crime has actually dropped since the earlier cuts.

"The bottom line is the conductor's job is not a security job," CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said after a board meeting.

The most recent cuts, which do not involve layoffs, will save over $2 million, officials said. They also said automated announcements will soon be systemwide.

Ridership, it was announced Monday, increased 7 percent on the rails and almost 3 percent on buses in 1999. That amounts to 441.9 million rides, compared with 424.1 million in 1998. Officials attributed the jump to, among other things, aggressive marketing and special fares and passes.

One example is the U-PASS--short for University Pass--which provides full-time students at 19 local colleges with unlimited bus and train rides during the semester. The students receive the pass after paying a fee through their schools. The CTA board on Monday agreed to make the experimental initiative permanent, and to increase fees from 50 cents per day per student to 60 cents over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the CTA announced it will verify that all 675 minority- and woman-owned businesses considered eligible for CTA contracts are indeed operated by women or minorities. The agency is following the lead of the city, which revamped its procedures after a supposedly woman-run company was discovered to be run by politically connected men.