Smoking on CTA is a big problem that needs fixing

Public transportation cannot afford to lose more riders and must entice riders back to pre-pandemic levels. Smoking on trains and platforms is something that could easily be addressed,

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Two Chicago police officers patrol the Jackson Red Line platform, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Chicago.

Two Chicago police officers patrol the Jackson Red Line station platform in 2020.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Thank you for the excellent editorial about improving public transportation in Chicago and the region. In addition to your observations and insights for improvement, I would like to add one more. Over the past few months I’ve noticed a precipitous increase in people smoking on the subway platforms, including platforms that are indoors, and on the trains themselves.

In addition to being unlawful, this endangers the health of all riders and makes for an unpleasant rider experience.

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As your editorial correctly points out, public transportation cannot afford to lose more riders and must entice riders back to pre-pandemic levels. The problem of people smoking on the train and platforms is something that could easily be addressed, especially if city leaders heed your advice to increase the number of police officers on the CTA.

I ride the CTA virtually every day, both to commute to and from work and to get around our spectacular city. I hope that city leaders take to heart the recommendations in your compelling editorial.

Charles P. Golbert, Lakeview

Keep public transit from a death spiral

I moved to Chicago from Miami last year, and one attraction was the thought of living in a real city where I wouldn’t need a car. That dream of mine included clean, efficient public transportation.

While I am happy with my decision — Chicago is a terrific city — I have been surprised and disappointed by the transportation bit.

Your March 18 editorial covers vital areas in need of a fix, but I wish you had emphasized the fact that travel on the L is discouraged by the filth and smell as well as irregular schedules and the widespread presence of apparently homeless and often mentally ill people. Surely we can find a way to help the homeless apart from crowding them onto subway cars.

Like you, I fear our system will enter a death spiral if we don’t make public transportation safer, cleaner and more appealing to commuters and other travelers. Our next mayor needs to make this a priority.

Gary Sullivan, Chicago

Helping the destitute is society’s responsibility

Our city government spends money on lots of things — many crucial and necessary services, and many expenses that are more frivolous like sports stadiums and dyeing the river green.

But the essence of a democratic government is to protect its citizens. Allowing hundreds of destitute men and women to live under bridges and in airports and to ride trains at night, because they have no other shelter, seems like the most blatant cruelty.

How can our allegedly civil society allow our fellow human beings to live like this, especially through our Chicago winters? Imagine what it’s like to be out on the street at night. We can close our eyes, but it’s there.

It is time for the city, the state and the federal government to see to it that these people are housed and fed and offered social services to get them back on their feet if possible, and to provide some basic support if it is not possible. This inhumanity can’t go on.

Carol Kraines, Deerfield

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