On the very snowy evening of Tuesday, December 9th, the Chicago Coalition for the Coalition invited me to tag along on a field-monitoring mission to see whether and how the CTA’s new homeless-ejection policy was being put into practice at rail terminals throughout the system.
CTA President Ron Huberman calls new signage barring ‘continuous riding’ through ‘L’ terminals part of an overall ‘sign upgrade’ at stations. But what about the health and safety of homeless people ejected from the rail system into frigid Chicago winters?
Homeless advocates believe CTA’s ‘no continuous riding’ signs are aimed directly at homeless riders, who take to the ‘L’ in droves during frigid Chicago winters in order find overnight warmth. However, today a CTA spokesperson labeled all rush-hour riders who take ‘L’ trains back to terminals in order to find seats for their morning trips downtown are violating the rule. Seriously?
‘They should take those signs down and find a way to take care of people, not punish people. These are people who are cold, these are people who are poor, these are people who are suffering already. Why slap them in the face?’
Today, interested readers can listen to my interview about the Chicago Transit Authority’s ill-considered holiday crackdown on homeless ‘L’ riders on WLUW 88.7-FM’s independent weekly news and features show, Outside the Loop RADIO.
Yesterday, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless announced on its blog that the organization will ‘track any efforts to crack down on homeless people riding the CTA.’ The statement highlighted and was in direct response to my recent opinion pieces here and on Huffington Post Chicago decrying recently installed Chicago Transit Authority signage barring ‘continuous riding’ that the agency appears intent on applying only to homeless riders.
No, the Chicago Transit Authority has not yet budged from its thinly veiled discriminatory policy of throwing homeless people out of the ‘L’ system at terminals. Over the weekend in these pages and on my Huffington Post Chicago byline I posted a series of questions about the policy that I had submitted to CTA’s media relations department along with the seriously spin-meistered answers that I received back. Yesterday, those posts unexpectedly made waves locally and nationally.
During the past few weeks of waning daylight, waxing chill, and growing holiday spirit, the Chicago Transit Authority has been busy installing new signage at rail terminals on the CTA ‘L’. The message on the signs is clear, and a bit ominous: they demand an additional fare from any rider who wants to depart the terminal in the opposite direction from which they arrived. Are the signs aimed at the homeless?