Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green unveils his plan for the CTA: Today’s Juice, by Greg Hinz
In a bit of a foretaste of ideas that progressive mayoral hopefuls will likely be pitching in coming months, candidate Ja’Mal Green Monday laid out a $200 million-a-year proposal to boost safety on the Chicago Transit Authority.
Included were everything from reviving a CTA security force and dispatching “hundreds” of social workers to ride the trains and work with the homeless, to creating a pilot “free fare” program and sharply upgraded cleaning of trains.
Green also called on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency on the CTA, something he said would make it easier to get the money needed to implement the program.
“The governor has used his powers for many other things,” be it COVID or helping Latin American refugees who are being bused here by officials in Texas, Green said. “If we have the money to help the migrants, we should have the money to do this.”
Green said he wasn’t calling for money to be shifted from asylum seekers to CTA-related matters; Instead, he wants to outline what should be a top priority. If his plan works, the CTA, over time, would bring back more riders and generate more revenue, he added.
On the top of Green’s list is creating a CTA “peacekeepers protection agency.” CTA unions have called for restoring the agency’s old police unit, but Green said his unit would focus on working with people to get the services they need, rather than arresting people. ”We’ve got to get these people off the trains and into social support services,” he said in a phone interview.
The new social workers that would regularly ride trains and buses would do the same thing, Green said. They’d be assisted by a huge new jobs program for ex-offenders and veterans. CTA workers would also get free City Colleges classes, something that might help recruitment, Green said. And, he added, Chicago ought to follow the lead of Boston, which is running an $8-million pilot program to determine if slashing or eliminating fares on some routes is a good idea.
Neither the CTA nor Pritzker’s office had any immediate response. Green’s plan comes as the CTA continues to suffer from an ongoing string of violent crimes despite additional police patrols and recently hiring hundreds of unarmed security personnel.
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October 18, 2022 at 08:32AM