CHICAGO (WLS) -- Violent crime on the CTA is at a level not seen in decades, Chicago police data shows, with more than 500 incidents reported so far this year.
"I was by myself minding my own business. I was sucker punched in the jaw. Sent me reeling," said Greg Perdue, CTA ride and crime victim.
The data has spurred debate in the Chicago City Council as aldermen look for answers. CTA efficiency and ridership is increasing, but is still well below pre-pandemic levels. The city council's transportation committee asked questions directly to CTA President Dorval Carter at their Thursday meeting.
Several aldermen expressed disappointment that Carter failed to appear at a previous council meeting in September and instead sent other CTA representatives in his place.
"If I'm directed to appear, I will be here," Carter told them.
Several said the agency needs to work better with Chicago police to solve the crime issue.
"I think the fact that they have no plan on how to keep Chicagoans safe on CTA trains is very concerning to me," said 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez.
For some riders, crime is less of an issue than reliability. The said the trains are frequently not running on schedule.
"For some reason, I guess they call it the ghost travel or something. You think it's coming and it doesn't show up at all," said rider Paul.
Carter said the agency desperately needs to hire more employees. They've held numerous job fairs but are having a difficult time filling positions left open by workers who left during the pandemic.
"I have never experienced anything like the ever evolving challenges like I'm dealing with today," Carter said.
One alderman said the CTA and city council need to work together to solve the crime issue because if the CTA is not safe, people will not take it.