CHICAGO — In a new report, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) says it has made significant improvements to rider safety and service since unveiling its “Meeting the Moment” action plan last year, which sought to transform the agency in the wake of the pandemic.
The years-long trend of increasing crime on the CTA seems to be shifting, with the new report showing that the CTA is making progress in its efforts to reduce crime.
“I’ve been taking the CTA in the city for maybe five years, and I’m getting less episodes of violence and theft and stuff like that,” frequent bus rider Mahmud Rahman said.
New police data verifies Rahman’s observation. According to the new report, overall crime is down 9% since the start of the year and 21% compared to July 2022. The report says violent crime has also decreased by 13% since the beginning of the year.
In reaction to a spreading sense of unease on public transportation, the CTA says it has beefed up safety measures by increasing patrols of sworn officers, hiring private security, deploying 50 two-person K9 teams, and installing new surveillance cameras.
“We’ve made noticeable improvements to virtually every aspect of our riders’ experience,” CTA President Dorval Carter said in a written statement. “And while we are encouraged by the progress we’ve seen since implementing a variety of new initiatives, we know there’s still more work to be done.”
The transit system has also sought to strengthen staff, setting the goal of hiring 700 bus drivers in 2023. So far 558 have been hired.
The new improvements have been proving successful for the CTA. According to the new report, rail service is up 22% and bus service is up 17% compared to August 2022.
Unpredictable wait times continue to be an issue for riders, something the CTA says can only be addressed with proper staffing. The CTA held a job fair on the Near West Side for bus operators and mechanics to cut down on a constant riser complaint that the busses don’t always run on time.