A 19-year-old woman was attacked in the middle of the morning on the CTA Blue Line, raising questions about what options commuters have to stay safe on trains.
The DePaul University student from Berwyn said no one came to her aid when a man attacked her for her cellphone Thursday on the Blue Line, which stops at Rosemont and O'Hare Airport.
The CTA is working with police in investigating the brazen attack, "which includes reviewing and providing them with any surveillance footage," spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said. The CTA has more than 23,000 security cameras in stations, buses and trains, and officials estimate the devices have accounted for a drop in crime last year.
Metra recently announced plans to gradually install cameras in train cars and is testing some on its Electric Line. But it would cost more than $12 million to equip all 1,028 cars and funding depends on federal aid.
Meanwhile, the commuter railway is also putting in intercoms that allow passengers to talk to a conductor if they need help.
Most cars on Metra's Electric Line, which were modernized, possess intercoms near the vestibules. The devices are available on about 125 cars on other train lines, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. The agency will add intercoms as it rehabs cars at the rate of 30 to 40 a year.
All CTA rail stations and rail cars have call buttons to alert a CTA employee about a suspicious person or activities, Hosinski said.
Thursday's attempted robbery occurred at 10:15 a.m. on the Forest Park Blue Line. The woman suffered a black eye, bruises to her head and a bite mark on her hand.
Chicago police also reported two early morning Red Line train robberies April 12 and 21 near the Fullerton and North/Clybourn stations, respectively.
"We always tell people to be aware of their surroundings," Chicago police officer Jose Estrada said, adding the advice is particularly important for riders using phones and devices. "Don't be focused on your phone."
He also recommended obtaining a "find my phone app" that can enable police to track down pilfered devices and let owners disable their phones remotely.
"They've been extremely useful in certain robberies where phones where taken," Estrada said. "We'll do our best to recover your phone searching on app tracking services."
He advised riders to give up their belongings rather than risk injury in the event of a robbery. "Things can turn violent relatively quickly," Estrada said. "We'd rather have a robbery where the victim is fine but their belongings are missing than a victim who is battered because they don't want to give up their material possessions."
Anyone with information can call police detectives at (312) 747-8382.