What's up with that?
Q At the Howard Red Line station, I spotted a sign that said CONTINUOUS RIDING OF TRAINS PROHIBITED. Is the CTA cracking down on homeless riders?
A “It’s pretty obvious this is meant for people who are homeless,” says Ed Shurna, director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, about the signs reminding riders of a policy which prohibits them from continuously riding the same line without payment of another fare. But CTA spokeswoman Katelyn Thrall counters that “the CTA does not make a distinction between homeless and any other fare-paying customers.” The signs, which were posted throughout the fall at the termini of the Blue, Orange and Red Lines, will eventually be installed at all rail terminals. “I think it’s a horrible policy,” Shurna says. He cites a Chicago Department of Human Services (DHS) study that found 1,139 people were turned away from overcrowded shelters in one October week alone. Making matters worse, REST, the North Side’s only emergency homeless shelter, closed last Monday. “I understand the CTA doesn’t want the train to become a traveling shelter,” Shurna says, “but where else are [the homeless] supposed to go?” The CTA is addressing the problem, Thrall says, by granting 24-hour access to platforms and trains to mobile units of DHS and the Thresholds rehab organization, who help place individuals into overnight shelters and, eventually, permanent housing.
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