Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green unveils his plan for CTA: Today’s Juice, by Greg Hinz
In a taste of the ideas progressive mayoral candidates are likely to present in the coming months, candidate Ja’Mal Green on Monday presented a $200 million-a-year proposal to bolster security at the Chicago Transit Authority.
Everything was included, from reviving a CTA security force, to sending “hundreds” of social workers to ride the trains and work with the homeless, to creating a pilot program of “free fare” and significantly improved train cleaning.
Green also called on Governor JB Pritzker to declare a state of emergency on the CTA, which he said would make it easier to get the money needed to implement the program.
“The governor has used his powers for a lot of other things,” whether it’s COVID or helping Latin American refugees who are being transported here by officials in Texas, Green said. “If we have the money to help migrants, we should have the money to do it.”
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Green said he was not calling for money to be transferred from asylum seekers to CTA-related issues; Instead, he wants to describe what should be a top priority. If his plan works, the CTA would, over time, bring back more passengers and generate more revenue, he added.
At the top of Green’s list is the creation of a CTA “peacekeeping force protection agency”. CTA unions have called for the agency’s former police unit to be restored, but Green said his unit will focus on working with people to get the services they need, rather than l arresting people. “We need to get these people off the trains and send them to social support services,” he said in a telephone interview.
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New social workers who regularly take trains and buses would do the same, Green said. They would be helped by a huge new jobs program for ex-offenders and veterans. CTA workers would also benefit from free tuition at City Colleges, which could make recruitment easier, Green said. And, he added, Chicago should follow Boston’s example, that turn an $8 million pilot program to determine whether reducing or eliminating fares on certain routes is a good idea.
Neither the CTA nor Pritzker’s office had an immediate response. Green’s plan comes as the CTA continues to suffer from an ongoing spate of violent crime despite police patrols and recently hired hundreds of unarmed security personnel.