Ridership on the CTA’s train system remains significantly lower than during the pre-COVID era, but city statistics show that robberies and violent attacks on the L system from downtown to the North Side are at their highest point in at least ten years.
Among the more recent cases: Two men attacked and robbed a CTA passenger as he sat on a bench waiting for a Red Line at Chicago Avenue around 3:23 p.m. Monday, according to prosecutors.
The men abruptly punched him in the face and pushed him to the ground before they stripped away his phone and wallet while implying they had a gun, prosecutors said.
CPD officers arrested 18-year-old Deon Richardson less than a block from the station entrance, and the victim identified him as one of the robbers, according to prosecutors. Richardson is charged with robbery. The other man got away.
Judge Charles Beach, citing the randomness and violence of the alleged attack, ordered Richardson held in lieu of $100,000. Richardson must post 10% of that amount to go home on electronic monitoring.
We decided to take a look at robberies on the L system in the police department’s 1st, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 24th districts between January 1 and November 21 annually. Here are the stations that lie within the study area:
According to the city, there were 149 robberies on trains, platforms, and stations during that period this year. That compares to 141 last year and 139 in 2019, the last year of normal, pre-COVID riding levels.
Surprisingly, robbery reports are up significantly compared to most pre-COVID years despite sharp decreases in ridership. Muggings on the famed train system are up more than 100% compared to pre-COVID era lows in 2015 and 2014.
Also increasing while COVID ridership is down: aggravated battery reports. There were 47 violent attacks on the train system in our study area through November 21 this year. That’s flat compared to 2019 but up compared to all pre-COVID years.
In fact, aggravated batteries are being reported nearly four times as often as during 2014, the best-performing year of the last decade.
Transit advocates have speculated that crime will decline on the city’s train system when more people are riding. But getting former commuters to start riding again may be more challenging if the city can’t find a way to tamp down crime first.
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