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🚆 How would you improve the CTA?

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


We can all agree there’s a lot going on the CTA these days, from reports of increased crime to unsanitary conditions to long wait times. 

But that doesn’t mean city leaders, activists, or riders are on the same page for how to improve public transit.

Reddit response that says "Somebody could win the next mayoral election on the singular issue of cleaning up the CTA making it safe again and getting the train schedule back up to 100%. It’s just one issue, but it’s a powerful symbol of the dysfunction of our city and the incompetence of our leaders. Just fix one damn thing and do it right."
(u/tjmk5000 / Reddit)

The efforts in the works have faced criticism.

Private security has been upped a lot on the CTA. The city has contracted four firms in the last year — with officials announcing earlier this spring that $71 million would go toward unarmed security over three years. But some riders say they don’t necessarily feel safer. 

Violence interrupters have returned. The civilian group of martial artists and former service members patrol train lines, NBC Chicago reported. Police have discouraged the group and other riders from intervening in crime.

Others are looking to the past and other cities for solutions.

Train conductors and CTA’s police unit should return, mayoral challenger Willie Wilson said after his L ride from 95th Street to downtown, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

San Fran transit ambassadors are who the CTA should model, Streetsblog Chicago has been saying. Through de-escalation techniques and anti-bias training, workers have enforced smoking bans and mask mandates.

How would YOU make the CTA better? Reply, or text (773) 780-0246. We might include your response here. City Cast staffers had ideas 👇 

Simone: The city could incentivize riding in creative ways — lower fares, free rides with special events, or partnerships with sports teams. Basically anything to get more people on the train to a) get back in the habit of riding, and b) create a kind of “community enforcement” of rules.

Carrie: Bus rapid transit would make the CTA faster and more efficient. Discounted fares to Cubs or Sox games, museums, and other events would encourage more tourists to ride. With the privilege of working from home, I ride the CTA less, but I don’t like the presence of armed security.

👉 Weigh in on CTA buses now: Fill out this survey, and attend meetings Thursday or next week.


CPS’ enrollment has dropped by more than 100,000 students in the last 20 years. And fewer students mean less money for a school. 

While the median school will see an increase of about $80,000, the 2022-23 budget proposal has 40% of schools losing an average of $220,000, mostly in Black and brown neighborhoods. 

🎧 CPS CEO Pedro Martinez tells us that despite cuts, many schools will see investments in new staff and smaller classroom sizes. But is this really the district’s “most-equitable” budget as Martinez has promised?

📊 See budget cuts at individual schools in this WBEZ list.


▪️ Chicagoans are encouraged to wear masks indoors again as the city moves back into medium risk for COVID-19. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Illinois wants to hold one of the early 2024 Democratic presidential primaries as the Democratic National Committee reconsiders Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in picking the party nominee. [WTTW]

▪️ Eligible Illinois Facebook users should be getting their $397 check today. The years-long $650 million biometric privacy lawsuit was settled last year. [City Cast]

▪️ Chicago Park District day camp registration starts today.

▪️ Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen is asking you to vote for your fav county flag design! Should be easy peasy lemon squeezy since we did a little City Cast poll a couple months ago. #OurStarFlag 

▪️ About 100 teenagers came to a sold-out Queer Prom in St. Charles for a night of acceptance, self-expression, and fun. [WBEZ]

▪️ Test your news knowledge with this Chicago Public Square quiz!

Close-up shot of a bright red-and-orange neon sign that reads "Orange Garden Chop Suey Chow Mein" in front of a brick building with a window.
Orange Garden restaurant sign in North Center in 2009. (Thomas Hawk / flickr)

The neon sign above the Orange Garden restaurant came down Sunday after being auctioned off last week.

It’s now in the hands of Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan and wife Chloe Mendel, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

Mendel anonymously bid on the sign for $17,000 while Corgan was on tour. He often joked he wanted the North Center restaurant’s iconic sign as a gift.

Don’t worry, you can still see the sign. The couple plan to hang it at Madame ZuZu’s, their vegan cafe in Highland Park.

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