Riders have slowly returned to the CTA post pandemic, but they’ve returned to a host of issues.
Among them is a noticeable slowdown in service and a breakdown in reliability. And in the last three weeks, there have been at least two major stabbing incidents and a host of attempted robberies on city trains.
Commuters in recent weeks have been complaining about an increasing number of “ghost buses,” buses that are scheduled to arrive and then never show up.
“The transit trackers aren’t reflecting the level of service that CTA is able to provide right now,” said Amy Rynell, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “They are compromised on staffing, the pandemic has not been easy, funding has not been easy and these are all really hard jobs.”
Joseph Schwieterman, a professor at DePaul University specializing in public policy, transportation and urban planning, said there are signs that public transit is bouncing back.
“There is sort of a ceiling on what transit is going to get back to unless we can solve these fundamental issues, particularly on CTA trains,” Schwieterman said, citing publicized issues of violence.
While service disruptions are being felt all over the city, Leslé Honoré, managing director of strategy and communications for the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Transportation Equity Network, said they are particularly acute in areas already dealing with the effects of disenfranchisement and oppression.
“It’s not an option to take a ride share service, they are reliant on public transit. So when we hear stories of older adults in Belmont Cragin waiting for two hours for a bus that never shows … it becomes a larger issue well pass transit,” Honoré said.
The stresses are also being felt by those who drive transit vehicles.
Eric Dixon, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, said changes need to be made in how transit agencies operate.
“We need to be doing some things different as far as hiring,” Dixon said, adding that in his view the CTA takes too long to bring on job candidates.