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Phoenix 101: Staying Safe on the CTA

Courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsLoyola students and CTA employees shared their tips for staying safe on the CTA.

As the school year starts, many Loyola students will join 1.59 million Chicagoans on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and buses.

While the CTA can be a convenient way to explore the city or get to class, it can also pose risks. To help students stay safe, The Phoenix spoke with the CTA and some students for CTA safety tips.

How can I stay safe?

While riding the CTA, people should be aware of their surroundings, according to the CTA’s website. Passengers shouldn’t sleep or listen to loud music while on a bus or train.

Many students carry pepper spray while riding public transportation late at night to help them feel safe.

“I don’t personally carry anything, but I know a lot of people that do,” Megan Timmis, junior studying advertising, said. “I think it’s a good idea, but if you’re not travelling alone at 2 a.m., most likely nothing bad will happen.”

The CTA also advises passengers to keep their belongings close. Wallets, lanyards and valuable items should stay in students’ backpacks or pockets.

How do I know which train or bus to take?

A commonly used navigation app is CityMapper, which integrates trains, buses and ride share services to create one route with real time instructions.

Ventra is another app, sponsored directly by the CTA. It shows routes, delays, arrival and departure times.

It’s important to know your route ahead of time and how to handle a mistake if one happens, according to Timmis.

“A big mistake that I’ve seen is when people go in looking obviously confused,” Timmis said. “That attracts people who might mess with you or say things to you.”

Anaïs Turiello, first-year student studying communication, shared what to do if students make a mistake.

“If you ever get off at the wrong stop, don’t try to walk your way back, just get back on and continue in the right direction,” Turiello said.

What if there’s an emergency while I’m on the train?

Situations requiring an evacuation are rare, according to the CTA website. Emergency situations include unexpected stops, breakdowns or accidents.

Each train and bus has graphics detailing evacuation procedures. According to the CTA website, Passengers should remain calm and listen for instructions. It’s safest to stay in the vehicle, and no one should try to evacuate without CTA personnel.

What rules should I keep in mind while taking the CTA?

Harassment, loud music, drinking and consuming drugs are some activities banned on the CTA, according to its website.

There are also other unspoken rules some students follow on public transportation, such as avoiding people they don’t know and traveling in groups.

“I would say to travel with other people, don’t go alone. Don’t make eye contact with people who are causing a disruption,” Timmis said.

What should I do if I feel unsafe?

If students feel threatened while on public transportation, the CTA advises them to move toward people or a different part of the train or bus. If students feel harassed, they should tell the conductor or bus driver immediately.

“Try not to interact with those causing a scene or doing anything unusual, if someone or something is making you feel unsafe, get off at the next stop and wait for the next train,” Turiello said. “Most importantly, mind your business.”

The CTA has more than 32,000 surveillance cameras throughout its facilities, which aid police investigations, according to the CTA’s director of communications, Steve Mayberry.

If students experience harassment, assault or witness something suspicious they should report it to the CTA by calling 888-968-7282. If they’re in immediate danger, they should call 911 directly.

What should I do if I drop something on the tracks?

The CTA website advises students not to go onto the tracks to retrieve lost items. This is dangerous because the tracks are electric and trains are constantly coming through stations.

Instead, according to the CTA website, students should ask an attendant for help because they are specifically trained to retrieve items from the track.

Where can I look for more information?

The CTA provides a variety of brochures with more specific information and policies. Students can review the rules of the CTA and the policies and practices of the CTA.

“These rules and policies remind our customers about how to use the transit system properly and how to ride safely,” Mayberry said.

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