A guide to staying safe on the CTA and Metra

(file photo)

Many students coming from other states have no doubt heard stories depicting Chicago as the murder capital of the country, or even dubbing it “Chiraq.” The vast majority of Chicago is a wonderful place and completely safe, but it would be disingenuous to say that there are not dangerous places in the city. It’s important to be smart, informed, and confident while still feeling free to discover the city for yourself.

While public transportation such as Chicago’s CTA and Metra trains are great ways to navigate the city, there are some trains that are best avoided. Some of the city trains have had passengers get mugged or harassed while on board. With that in mind, here are the trains that you should probably steer clear of and the ones that are safer to take.

What to Avoid

It is widely known among Chicago natives that the CTA Red Line can be pretty dangerous when going south of downtown Chicago, especially at night. Chicago native Alex Cordero spoke about his own experience on the Red and Green Lines, warning of the potential dangers of taking it.

Avoid the Red line south of Sox/35th Street and the Green Line south of Roosevelt. I’ve gotten jumped on both trains,” he explained. “Some dude asked [me and my friend] if he could use our phones and we said no because he had a phone in his hand. He got up and asked again, all of a sudden three other dudes are with him and they forced us in that little section of the train where the driver sits.”

This highlights one of the problems of the CTA: there’s no driver or conductor in the cars where the passengers are sitting, so a lot of wild things can go on. Luckily for Alex, he didn’t have anything the men attacking him seemed to be looking for.

“They started pushing us and tried going through our stuff. They didn’t find anything on me but Pokemon cards though,” he said.

Hector Saldana, a student at Harold Washington, spoke about a similar experience with a different train: the Pink Line.

“The Pink Line gets sketchy past Central Park. They’re not the best neighborhoods past that point. There’s Little Village and so on,” he said. “A lot of people who either are drunk or gang members come on there at night. I was on the Pink Line one night and got bopped on the head by this crazy drunk guy on my way home from work. It just gets kinda dangerous at night, not necessarily saying to be afraid of it, just be cautious.”

These are the three most widely recognized lines to be avoided in the city. While other lines such as the Blue, Purple, Orange or Brown might have problems of their own, the ones previously mentioned seem to stand out as places that aren’t necessarily the most welcoming.

What to Take

As a general rule Metra trains tend to be a pretty safe option as there is a Metra conductor in the car most of the time and they’ll generally remove unruly passengers. It will cost much more than a CTA train, though. Metra tickets start at $3.50 and can be as expensive as $7.75. CTA train rides anywhere in the city only cost $2.25.

Once in the city, the aforementioned Blue, Brown, Purple, and Orange lines are all reliable ways to get where you need to go. Use caution, but don’t feel the need to be afraid. Chicago is an amazing town, so get out there and experience it.