Willie Wilson calls city officials ‘out of touch’ on public transit safety

The mayoral candidate unveils six-point plan to tackle gun violence on trains and buses.

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Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson rides a CTA Madison bus from Austin Boulevard to State and Lake to highlight transit crime and his plan to address it. Wednesday, August 10, 2022.

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson said too many daily riders of Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains are afraid.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson had no complaints about his hourlong bus ride from the West Side to downtown Wednesday — even though his preferred ride is a black Cadillac Escalade.

But Wilson said too many daily riders of Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains are afraid — and he aims to change that if he’s elected mayor.

“A lot of people have lost their lives when this could have been taken care of a while back,” Wilson said.

He outlined a six-point plan Wednesday that includes bringing back conductors for every train and adding more dedicated CTA transit police. He also said he’d consider hiring private armed security guards — as many as 800.

He also wants a website that tells CTA customers where crime is occurring in the system.

Wilson said elected city officials are “out of touch” on the issue of public transit safety.

“You can’t look at the dollars budget-wise and things of that nature. You must take care of the citizens at all costs, making sure they are feeling comfortable,” Wilson said.

The city found money to tackle COVID-19; it can do the same for public transit safety, he said.

After the fatal shooting of Diunte Moon on a Red Line train near Chatham last week, Chicago police and transit officials announced additional plans to increase security on L and subway trains and platforms.

As of mid-July, 488 attacks had been reported on the transit system — the most since 533 during the same period in 2011, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis.

Violent crimes have accounted for more than 26% of all 1,863 crimes reported on the CTA this year. In 2018 and 2019, when there were far more riders, violent crimes amounted to 13% of the crimes.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown has said additional police officers will be assigned to CTA trains and platforms, but he has declined to share exactly how many more officers. The police presence on transit had already been increased earlier this year, Brown has said.

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