It’s definitely not a good time to be CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. Recently, people have been protesting the unreliable service and untrustworthy transit tracking screens outside CTA headquarters. ‘agency. Aldermen excoriated Carter for skipping his own Sept. 14 city council hearing over poor service. And Streetsblog recently learned that the raison he canceled the meeting because he had a more glamorous offer. While his underlings deflected the alders’ furious questions about why Carter was a non-anchor, he was busy getting his close-up, talking about the CTA infrastructure on a panel moderated by The Hill. As you can see below, Ald. André Vasquez, who questioned agency staff members about his absence from the committee hearing, was not pleased with the revelation.
Getting paid $360,000 a year for not showing up for a hearing so he could be on TV. It is a lack of respect for the council, for the ratepayers and for the city.
Unless they need a *ghosting* expert, I don’t see it. https://t.co/f6AEfQ74V8
— @ward40 (@40thforward) September 27, 2022
On top of all this, the increase in violent crime on the CTA, which recently reached its highest level in a decade, is an ongoing concern. Here are some headlines from last week:
So far, CTA has responded to the crime wave by working with the Chicago Police Department to deploy more officers to the system. The agency also approved $71 million contracts for unarmed security guards with limited training, as well as another $30 million contract for more unarmed guards with attack dogs. Some local transit advocates have argued that the $101 million in security contracts is a waste of money which should instead be spent on hiring bus and train operators.
Streetsblog Chicago advocated for better trained, unarmed transit ambassadors. This approach has proven successful on Bay Area Rapid Transit, where the program is run by the police.
Security cameras are a relatively controversial, if not completely foolproof, CTA strategy for deterring crime and holding offenders accountable. Yesterday the CTA provided some good news in the form of a new record for ridership in the age of the pandemic, and today the agency provided another helpful change of topic for Carter by announcing that 173 new security camera monitors have been installed in the 146 ‘L’ stations.
Work to install these 21-inch monitors in each customer assistant cabin in the rail system has already been completed, CTA said in a press release. Monitors offer live feeds from station security cameras, and screens are set up so CAs can keep an eye on footage whether they’re inside or out of the cabin, in the performance of their duties.
“This project is the latest investment we have made to support our hard-working frontline employees,” the beleaguered agency president said in a statement. “The ability to monitor station activity in real time will help our employees better serve customers and provide a safer travel environment for everyone.”
According to the agency, the second phase of work on this project will include the installation of a new communication console inside the CA booths, with a touch screen that will allow staff to switch camera views and to have easy access to the station’s other communication tools. Phase II should be launched next year.
The cost of the monitoring initiative is approximately $2 million. It is funded by CTA operating funds.
While the monitor project is unlikely to revolutionize CTA security, it should give CAs a better idea of what is going on at their stations, allowing them to respond more quickly to violent incidents and other emergencies. It’s a positive talking point for Carter, who needs all the good news he can get right now.