Recent Chicago Tribune articles focused on crime and the CTA have put the potential dangers of public transportation into the headlines. But what struck us here at ChiU, wasn’t just the crime statistics or anecdotes.
It was that college students, and college-aged Chicagoans, seem to be frequent victims.
Perhaps it is that some students are new to the city, some have to commute long distances to school, or some, like 22-year-old Loyola University pre-med student Kody Zaagman from this Chicago Tribune article, have to study late and need public transit to get home. Regardless, students are frequent users of the CTA, and safety needs to be a priority.
Below is a basic list of safety tips when riding the CTA. Though some may seem obvious, a reminder can never hurt.
1. Sit in the front car
Sitting in the front offers close proximity to the conductor, which can both deter crime and offer immediate help if an incident occurs. However, if that isn’t possible…
2. Sit near an operator button
Perhaps you just caught the train, but only made it in the back car. Every car has an operator call button that offers a line of communication straight to the conductor. However, in order to ensure you have adequate time to get to the right car…
3. Utilize transit apps
The CTA tracker is a great tool to know when a train or bus is on its way. Check the app before you leave wherever you are so that you can arrive at the platform with time to get to the car you want, without having to linger at the station. However, put the smartphone away…
4. Don’t flash valuables
It is easy to become a target if you clearly have something of value. Make your Words With Friends move before getting on the train, and when possible, travel with as little valuables as possible. However, if you must bring a valuable along…
5. Wear a zippered purse and/or keep your hand on your wallet
Pick-pocketers prey on those who have loose purses they can easily reach into without being noticed. A zipper makes that a little tougher. As an extra precaution, nonchalantly keep your hand on your zipper or pocket in order to be sure no one elses’ hand is there. However, the best policy is to…
6. Travel in groups
Two pairs of eyes is better than one, but five pairs of eyes is even better. Travel in groups when you can, since this drastically reduces the chances of a crime occurring. However, if all else fails (and/or if you have a big group to split the tab with)…
7. A cab is worth it
You may pay $20 for a cab, but at least it doesn’t mean a trip to the hospital from a mugging or the loss of your $200 iPhone. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, it is worth the cost.
In addition, be sure to have your campus safety number in your phone, and contact them if an incident occurs. They may be able to send out an alert to other students that could help someone else in a similar situation.
The CTA is a fantastic resource for city college students for many reasons, but just as with anything else, caution is always a good rule of thumb. Happy riding and be safe!
Have you ever been faced with crime on the CTA? Do you have any safety tips to add to the list? Let us know! Comment below, or tweet us @Chicago_U.
(Photo credit: Flickr/Robert S. Donovan)