Chicago Transit Authority is the most used form of transportation in the city.

It’s used the most by students and working-class residents. However, violent attacks from sexual assaults, robberies, and gun violence have increased drastically on trains and buses.

Fox 32 Chicago reported that one week in April saw five violent incidents back-to-back. That week, a man was shot on a CTA bus in the Lawndale neighborhood. The 31-year-old victim was chased off the bus by a gunman. He then ran back on and tried to hide in between seats for safety when he was wounded. Not too long after, a CTA Red Line train operator was lured by a person who claimed to need help getting their phone when they were pushed onto the tracks. More incidents even included a shooting that involved a CTA employee who is now facing charges.

The upsurge in violence on public transportation has students and residents demanding a change in Chicago. In March, Chicago Transit Authority held a news conference with Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, who believes adding security guards on trains and buses will help with the issue. Yet, Transit Union president Keith Hill doesn’t think it’ll make a difference. “It’s sad to say it’s become a norm for us. We see this all day, every day,” Hill told Fox 32 Chicago. “I don’t see them stopping anything. They’re unarmed. They’re just like regular riders. Why would they jeopardize their lives to stop anything?”

Despite Hill’s statement, the CTA board approved multi-year contracts totaling $71 million to two private security companies. For some students and residents, this is a matter that needs to be handled urgently, so urgent that local organizations are taking matters into their own hands. 

According to NBC Chicago, groups of volunteer officers and martial artists rode the CTA Red Line, one of the busiest and violent train lines on the city’s southside, on the lookout for crime. 

Activist Tio Hardiman believed that the rise in crime demanded action from community organizations, and he hopes Chicago would work with him to provide safety for riders. “We want to be proactive and preemptive. We don’t want things to worsen before we do something. Things are already getting bad, “Hardiman told NBC Chicago. “Put yourself in the shoes of some working-class person, getting up to go to work, and someone gets up in your face on the train.”

Although riders praise the quick action of activists and community groups, Tom Ahern, Chicago Police Department Spokesperson, said the police don’t need ‘private citizens taking law enforcement matters into their own hands.’

Students and residents all over the city are on high alert, hoping that their safety becomes a priority to law enforcement soon.

Blavity U Ambassador Lashaunta Moore is a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, studying entrepreneurship for creatives. Moore has a bachelor’s degree in media communication, and she’s also a freelance journalist and digital content producer.