By Nona Tepper
New surveillance cameras will soon be added to Chicago Transit Authority stops in Forest Park, Oak Park and Austin, as part of the CTA's "Safe and Secure" program, a $33 million effort announced Feb. 27 that aims to increase rider safety by installing and upgrading security cameras, lights and adding video monitoring to stations, CTA spokesman Jon Kaplan confirmed in an email to the Forest Park Review.
Of the funds earmarked, $15 million will go toward modernizing lighting and making other repairs at Blue Line, Green Line and other train stations. An additional $13 million will be used for modernizing and upgrading train station cameras, according to the CTA.
About 3,800 existing CTA security cameras will be traded out for high-definition models, and 1,000 additional cameras will be added to stations. Another $1 million will go toward installing video monitors at el stops, which will allow employees to see what's happening on the platforms.
CTA President Dorval Carter said upgrades will begin on the Blue and Red lines, and then advance to other rail lines.
"Ensuring every CTA customer and employee is safe on our transit system is a top priority for me," Carter said in a statement. "The Safe and Secure initiative allows us to build on the success of our past efforts and further improve the commuting experience for our customers."
Local stops that will receive new cameras include the Harlem/Lake, Oak Park, Ridgeland and Austin stops on the Green Line, and the Forest Park, Harlem and Austin stops on the Blue Line.
Kaplan said each local stop already has multiple cameras and will receive several more. He declined to comment on how many security cameras are currently at or will be added to each stop, citing "security purposes."
In Forest Park and Oak Park, money for the new cameras will come from various federal grants that have been earmarked for security improvements, Kaplan said, declining to elaborate further.
Inside the city, in the Austin neighborhood, new cameras will be funded through a mix of federal and local funds, as well as from a portion of the city of Chicago's ride-share fees. Chicago pockets 67 cents on every Uber, Lyft or other ride-sharing trip made in the city.
CTA's security camera network has doubled in size since 2011. The cameras, found at every rail station and on every bus and train, have aided police in the investigation, arrest and charging of more than 1,300 offenders, according to the CTA.