Despite increase in security cameras, ridership down and crimes up on Cermak-Chinatown Red Line

Street-level view of the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop, facing east. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

By Karley Fontana, Kyle Johnson and Ren Busch

Running from the southside neighborhood of Roseland all the way to Rogers Park, the Red Line stretches 26 miles over 33 stops, including stops in neighborhoods that are high in violence and crime. The Cermak-Chinatown stop, in particular, has seen a dramatic decrease in riders in 2019, and crime-related incidents are questionably to blame. 

According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, the Cermak-Chinatown stop saw 1,459,134 riders in 2018, an average of 3,998 riders per day

In 2019, the Chicago Transit Authority has calculated 679,945 riders up to June 30, 2019, an average of 3,757 riders per day. These numbers, of course, do not reflect turnstile jumpers. Assuming that the ridership will roughly double over the last half of the year, the Cermak-Chinatown stop will have seen close to 100,000 less riders than 2018. 

In 2018, Chicago saw 319 crimes on or around the Chinatown-Cermak Red Line. 95 of these crimes were filed as assault or battery. 148 of these crimes were robberies or assaults, roughly 46% of total crimes. 

In 2019, Chicago has seen 381 crimes on or around the Chinatown-Cermak Red Line stop, assuming the victims contacted authorities. 135 of these crimes contained assault or battery charges, and 215 incidents were robberies or theft, about 56% of the total crimes. There has also been one homicide. That means there has been a 19.4% increase in crimes at the Cermak-Chinatown stop alone. Are crime-related incidents to blame for this decrease in ridership? 

CTA declined to comment.

Farhana Chowdhury, a junior at UIC, says she uses the CTA every day for errands or hanging out with friends.

“I don’t notice anything bad going on, usually, but I have noticed the [increase in] cameras. That makes me question if the area is bad.” 

Chowdhury also stated that she avoids going to the South Side or taking certain lines at night. 

“It’s better to take an Uber,” she said. 

El stations and buses have seen an increase in HD security cameras in the last year. Photo by Karley Fontana

CTA’s website boasts the safety and security of it’s customers, claiming to have 32,000 cameras across the transit system. According to a May 2018 Chicago Tribune article, the CTA plans to install $33 million worth of new surveillance equipment at El stations over the course of five years.  In April of 2019, the CTA finished installing 1,000 new HD cameras that cost $3.5 million. 

Despite the new camera installations, crime continues to rise across all stops, the Tribune said in a follow-up article. However, in some instances, the cameras have been helpful in apprehending suspects of criminal activity. The suspected killer of the UIC student, Ruth George, who was assaulted and killed in November of 2019, was located and apprehended due to the CTA Blue Line cameras.

Although this particular incident proved that cameras a helpful edition to the CTA rail system, many riders still feel otherwise. 

UIC student Robert Hatch says he drives from home to campus, but he uses the CTA on a regular basis to visit colleagues. 

“There’s been many events, and I have one actually recorded. It was a verbal conversation between two people that sounded like it was going to lead to something bad. I don’t know what the outcome of that was, though, due to me leaving the train. There’s definitely a lot of stuff going on. Pretty much all of the stops are the same, except for the Red Line. Everything on that is pretty dangerous.”

“‘Keep your eyes to yourself,’ that’s what people always say with Chicago, but it’s a little bit more than that,” Hatch said. “There’s a lot of things that you’re not going to normally see when you go on any line, but specifically the Red Line… it’s pretty sad how frequent events like these that I’ve been talking about happen. It happens almost every day. You have to be careful around that.” 

Joanna Li, a resident of Chinatown and employee of Tous Les Jours on Archer Avenue, said she avoids taking the Red Line train when her late-night shifts are over.

“I haven’t witnessed any crimes, but I have heard them happening. I feel safe living in the area I’m in, because I’m not on a busy street. I know that things are happening on busier streets and in the central area of Chinatown, because it’s more crowded and touristy. I have my managers or my parents drive me home when my shift is over. I think the cameras on trains and buses are helpful, but I think maybe CTA should hire more security guards to monitor every stop” she said.

Despite increase in digital security measures, crimes have increased on all El trains, Although riders have decreased in 2019, crimes have remarkably soared on and around the Cermak-Chinatown El train station. If cameras can’t increase the safety and security of Chicago’s citizens, perhaps other measures should be taken. 

Reporting Crime on the CTA

You can report incidents that are non-life threatening to CTA Customer Service 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282). You also can choose to file a police report by calling the local police non-emergency hotline for the municipality in which the incident occurred (311) or by visiting a nearby police station.

Google Timelapse: Coal City, Illinois

Screenshot of Coal City, Illinois Google Timelapse.

Coal City, Illinois is a rural town south of the I-80/I-55 corridor that has seen immense expansion over the last two decades. However, the Google Timelapse map shows even more shocking evidence of destruction of homes and farmland after a tornado hit the town not only once in 2013, but again in 2015. The tornadoes left the town in shambles for several years thereafter, leaving families without homes.

Chicago Workforce Centers

Despite being the third largest city in America, Chicago only has four centers dedicated to helping people get back into the workforce, according to Chicago’s data portal. These four locations are the Mid-South Workforce Center, Pilsen Workforce Center, Humboldt Park, and Northside Workforce Center. Workforce Centers are an opportunity for those who have been out of the workforce to seek job openings, counseling, and other resources available to help get back on their feet after unemployment.

Google Trends: Kim K and Bernie Sanders

Kim Kardashian has sparked a recent controversy over her new shape wear line. The business woman made headlines when she announced her new undergarment line, set to be called “Kimono.” Kardashian faced a backlash from Japanese communities and allies, calling the shape wear line “cultural appropriation” and “racist.”

Around late August of 2019, Kardashian announced that her shape wear line would be taking on a new name, in light of fans’ accusations and disheartenment.

According to data from a Google Trends analysis, Kim Kardashian and racism were terms that were searched almost equally during the time of the controversy. Is Kim capitalizing on the news coverage of her controversy to gain more traction for her new shape wear line?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders boasts a plan to eliminate student loan debt in the United States. 

According to data from Google Trends, Bernie Sanders and student loans did not hold a correlation before the 2016 elections. However, in 2019, a Google Trends Analysis indicates that student loans and Bernie Sanders are more commonly associated with one another. 

This raises some questions as to whether Sanders does in fact have a plan to eliminate student loan debt, or if his claims are part of his anticipated 2020 campaign for presidency. 

Chicago Cubs Game Attendance Since The World Series

The Chicago Cubs saw an increase in attendance in home games in 2016, when the team was expected to go to the World Series.

In 2016, the team saw 3, 232 420 people over the course of the season at Wrigley Field, with an average of 39,906 people per home game.

After 108 years of long-awaited anticipation, Chicago Cubs fans finally got to see their team win the World Series again in 2016, which sent the city into an uproar of celebration for several weeks.

In 2015, the year before the World Series, the Cubs saw 2,919,122 people visit Wrigley Field. Attendance has slowly decreased since 2016. However, attendance per home game is more than it has been since the World Series. Are the Chicago Cubs seeing an influx of bandwagon fans?

Number of Craft Breweries by State (2015)

The concentrations of craft beer breweries, according to a 2015 report by the Brewer’s Association.

Craft beer breweries have been on a steady incline in popularity since 2015. In 2015, the states with the highest amounts of craft breweries were California, Washington, and Colorado. In California, breweries boomed from 518 in 2015 to 841 in 2018. In Washington, 305 breweries were operating in 2015, and in 2018 there was a reported 394. Colorado, the third highest state, breweries increased from 284 to 396.

According to the Brewer’s Association, craft breweries contributed $79.1 billion to the economy in 2018, creating over a half million jobs. Today, California’s breweries still rank No. 1 in economic impact, followed by Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York.

Quinn: Illinois Pension Funds Threaten MAP Grants

Gov. Quinn photo
Gov. Quinn

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

Continue reading “Quinn: Illinois Pension Funds Threaten MAP Grants”