The Chicago Transit Authority works with the City to serve disobedient riders | So Good News


Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief

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Federal Transit Administration

As part of its continued efforts to provide a welcoming environment for all customers, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) this week entered into an agreement with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to provide additional outreach and support services to riders who are not sheltered, as well as those who struggle with mental health and substance abuse.

The CTA Board approved an intergovernmental agreement that enables CTA and DFSS to expand the overall reach of contracted social service agencies to assist individuals on public transportation who are unsheltered and/or in need of assistance with either mental health or substance abuse issues, a challenge facing transit agencies across the country. DFSS currently contracts with social service agencies that have experience working with individuals in need of social services or using CTA properties for shelter.

“While the CTA has traditionally not played a role in the provision of social services, I believe it is time to address these challenges with new thinking and new tools,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “By expanding our partnership with DFSS to provide additional services through community-based and social service organizations, we can address these challenges in an innovative way – and do so with respect, compassion and care.”

Today’s agreement is the latest measure introduced by the CTA as part of Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future Action plan, unveiled in August. The multi-faceted plan focuses on several aspects of improving CTA service, including improving the customer experience.

Through the agreement, CTA will provide up to $2 million in funding to DFSS through December 31, 2023. These funds will be used by DFSS to provide an expanded network of community-based social service organizations to provide outreach, direct assistance and resources, f .ex. such as housing, medical care and social services, to support unsheltered residents who use trains, stations and other CTA spaces as a shelter. The agreement built on the CTA’s existing commitment and outreach efforts to help riders in need.

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