CHICAGO (WLS) -- CTA bus drivers and train operators, and the union representing them, call for more security after a teenager was gunned down riding the bus.
"Right now, no operator, no train person feels safe coming to work," said Keith Hill, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241. "The attacks are up, the assaults are up, now we've got a murder on a bus."
The demands for action follow the Sunday afternoon murder of a 17-year-old on the city's West Side. Police said two men got on a bus at Chicago and Pulaski, then walked to the back and shot the teen to death. Another man was also wounded.
The attackers got off the bus and ran away.
Hill said the 20 to 30 other passengers on the bus escaped harm, and the driver, who jumped through his window to safety, is now traumatized.
And with other violent incidents in prior weeks, the union said crime on the CTA is endangering the lives of riders and workers.
"It's not a CTA problem, it's a city problem that's trickling onto the system," Hill said.
According to Chicago Police Department crime data, as of June 21 there have been 391 attacks, including assaults, batteries and homicides, on CTA trains or buses, up 37% from this time last year. That matches the pre-pandemic levels of crime on public transit, which was almost evenly split with 56% attacks on trains and 44% attacks on buses.
A spokesperson for CTA said the agency has already deployed more than 200 unarmed security guards, installed security cameras on buses and trains, and put up protective barriers around bus drivers. But operators want their own police force.
"We want a police presence. Open it up to all municipality's police officers," Hill said. "The Chicago police right now have their hands full."
Hill said his union hopes to meet with Mayor Lightfoot Wednesday to discuss the issue.
The union, CTA officials and Lightfoot released a statement Wednesday evening, saying, "This evening we met with the hardworking men and women who drive our city buses every day and make sure the thousands of residents who rely on public transportation get to their destination safely. Equally important is that the hardworking men and women of the CTA, whether bus or rail, deserve to be safe in their workplace and we are committed to continuing to work together to ensure the safety of our workers across our transit system. Together, we are also evaluating our options to create tougher consequences for those who commit crimes against transit workers and in or against transit properties. We will continue to take the steps necessary to protect both transit employees and riders alike."