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Violent Crime On CTA Buses, Trains Is At A Six-Year High And Is A Growing Problem

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A search continued Friday night for two men who stabbed three CTA riders on the Red Line subway downtown.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, the attack highlights a growing problem with crime on the Chicago Transit Authority.

Just imagine standing on a platform waiting for an 'L' train and someone tries robbing you. In one case around 9 p.m. Thursday, that was exactly happened to one man.

He was standing on a platform at the Jackson Red Line stop when two men with a knife demanded his backpack and watch. The victim handed over his items – but he was still stabbed in the ear.

Police said the attackers also stabbed two other people as they fled from the scene. One victim as stabbed in the neck.

And what played out Thursday night is happening more often – as crime on the CTA is at a six-year high.

When CTA riders jump onboard, they simply want to get to their destination. And whether they are depending on the 'L' or a bus, there is a chance they are seeing crime around them.

When CBS 2 dug into CTA crime data, it revealed that on average, a violet crime happened every day in the past 30 days on CTA property. There were 49 violent crimes altogether – 13 of them occurred on buses, and 36 happened on trains.

We've heard from those attacked on trains – like one woman who hid her identity after a scary ride on the Green Line in East Garfield Park back in November.

"Right around the Kedzie stop, an individual got on the train," the woman said. "He wasn't wearing a mask, and he was playing loud music on his phone - and he sat across from me."

The woman said she decided to move to the back of the train car, but that sparked a conflict that would turn violent. The woman said she pressed the emergency button, and the man pulled a stick out and started waving it. While the train was stopped at the California station, the woman went to reach for her bag to get off the train to safety - but the suspect took a swing.

"I don't know what happened. I just saw my face go to the right, go to the left," the woman said in November. "People started gasping; saying stuff, and I saw blood rushing out."

We have also seen a bus driver get beaten by a mob near Millennium Park downtown in early December, and we have heard from CTA union representatives demanding better police protection.

"Our members come to work. I want them to be able to go back home the same way they came. Any one of us should be," Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President for trains Eric Dixon said in August. "And so we're bringing that to the forefront to let people know that we're tired. We're sick and tired of our members being attacked."

The data show 2021 ended with 624 violent crimes on trains and buses. That is up from 579 reported in 2020.

Just six years ago, there were 450 violent crimes for all of 2015.

Violent crimes entail assault, battery, sexual assault, and robberies.

No one was in custody late Friday in the stabbing on the Red Line the night before.

We asked Chicago Police what, if any, security measures are changing regarding the spike in CTA crimes. They told us they do not discuss specific deployment strategies.

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