CTA patrons should take safety precautions when using transit

By SpencerRoush

Imagine standing on a Red Line Chicago Transit Authority train platform or waiting for a State Street bus and having someone creep up behind you, snatch all of your belongings or even attack you. While you fight the urge to shout “stranger danger” like you were taught by your second grade teacher, you comply with the robber’s demands and hand over your beloved iPod and anything else of value. The robber runs off with your precious U-Pass, cash and cell phone, and you feel helpless and know there is no chance of seeing your

belongings again.

This scenario is not difficult to imagine. Any Chicagoan probably has had his or her fair share of CTA horror stories, whether it’s a man with a moving newspaper over his lap or a violent fight between patrons.

Frequent CTA riders risk being robbed or assaulted each time they slip their cards in the turnstiles and walk through. As reported by The Chronicle on Jan. 25, two men were robbed on Jan. 15 at the Harrison Red Line stop. A man approached them and said he would shoot them if they didn’t give him their money. The suspect only threatened to shoot, but never revealed a gun.

After the men handed over less than $40, the suspect ran onto a waiting southbound train. The two men then allegedly told the train operator that they were just robbed, but the train pulled out of the station anyway.

If the victims’ account of the robbery is correct, how can any public transit customers count on CTA employees to call the police if a crime does occur?

With price hikes remaining a topic of discussion among officials and many CTA services on the cutting board, security and safety is something that cannot be compromised. There is a chance that cutting services will lessen the amount of crime that takes place because there will be more people waiting for a particular train or bus at one time, but that is not the intent.

According to the CTA’s Web site, there are procedures for workers when a crime takes place, but how often are these procedures overlooked for the sake of time or money? CTA workers see a plethora of questionable conduct while operating. As a result, they report less crime because it’s become common and seen as more bothersome than illegal.

The CTA recently spent money on new signs, which say, “If you see something, say something.” There are other signs that say “The CTA is committed to safety” and “Tell a CTA employee immediately or call 911 for emergencies.”

There may be some instances when CTA employees fall short of the correct procedures, but many times police were called and they resolved the issue on the trains or buses. However, it is just as much the responsibility of workers to respond to an emergency as it is for a rider to notify the employees or the police of the incident.

People must become more aware of their surroundings because a Chicago police officer said criminals are becoming even more aggressive and will attack in broad daylight or with many people around.

We all need to think twice before Tweeting on our cell phones or searching for a new song on our iPods while riding on the train or bus. Everyone needs to acknowledge the danger because a crime can happen to anyone. The incident at the Harrison Red Line train stop happened to a pair of 20-somethings for a measly $38, not a tempting candidate waving around his shiny, new phone that looked ripe for the taking.

The criminals are not just aiming their sights on a blonde female who looks a bit clueless, naive about the city and everything it has to offer. With the increasing desperation of people in this economy, anyone can be a target and more needs to be done to ensure the safety of public transportation riders.