Regional Transportation Authority of Northern Illinois selects eight stations for pilot program aimed at boosting transit safety

May 17, 2024
The projects will create a welcoming environment and address real and perceived safety issues at stations serving CTA, Metra and Pace systems.

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) of Northern Illinois has selected eight stations that serve Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Pace and Metra systems for its Transit Station Activation pilot program. 

Each project will receive between $10,000 and $20,000 in funding to plan and host public events that will be held this summer and fall. The goal of each event is to bring activities near transit, create a welcoming environment and help address real or perceived public safety issues.

“All riders and frontline workers deserve to feel safe on transit,” said Leanne Redden, RTA of Northern Illinois executive director. “We are excited to announce the projects selected for Transit Station Activations and see these projects come to life, helping make our region’s transit stations and stops feel safer and centering them as hubs in their communities.”

The Transit Station Activation pilot program was one of the goals discussed at the RTA of Northern Illinois Public Transit Safety and Security Summit in February 2024. The program is a new category within the agency’s Community Planning program. It will support temporary activation projects that improve safety at transit stations and stops and make them more fun and welcoming public spaces. The RTA of Northern Illinois will work with operating agencies and municipalities to evaluate the effectiveness of this pilot program, make necessary changes and improvements and determine if a long-term solution is viable.

The projects selected include: 

  • Cicero Green Line Station (CTA) - The Chicago Film Archives (CFA) will research and identify families from the West Garfield Park community with home movies to digitize and show at the street-level mezzanine of the Cicero Green Line station. CFA has an existing projection system that was installed in March 2023 at the station as part of the film exhibition called “we love” that projects 20th century home movies from Chicagoans. The movies are shown on the lobby wall and run 24 hours a day. The addition of home videos of local families will encourage travel and bring excitement and acknowledgement to the lives of people in the neighborhood.
  • 63rd and Cottage Grove Green Line Station (CTA) - Gardeneers will execute a one-day plant-based pop-up festival at the 63rd and Cottage Grove Green Line station that aims to showcase the impact of plant-based foods, urban agriculture, biomaterials and sustainability on individuals' health and the ecosystem.
  • Morse Red Line Station (CTA) – Mandala South Asian Performing Arts will host live music and dance performances at the Morse Red Line station that will reflect the unique cultural identity of the neighborhood and the diversity of the City of Chicago.
  • Maywood Station (Metra) - The Maywood Chamber of Commerce will host a one-day event that celebrates Maywood's historical and cultural treasures and underscores its accessibility by transit with a three-pronged event centered on the Maywood Metra station along with nearby Pace bus service on 5th Ave. The first is a guided tour, via walking or trolley-car, around the various sites that span Maywood Park from First Avenue to 5th Ave. Next, various institutions in Maywood's Arts and Cultural District will host an open house where residents and visitors can learn about their respective offerings. The Maywood Chamber of Commerce will be the host organization and use the occasion to promote its services and the good of its members. The third and final aspect of the event will be a musical performance conducted by Working-In-Concert (WIC), a Chicago-based musical organization that promotes cultural education and diversity through musical performances.
  • 79th St. Station in Chatham and 147th St. Station in Harvey (Metra) - Metra will host one-day community celebrations coinciding with the completion of station reconstruction projects at the 79th St. (Chatham) station on the South Side of Chicago and the 147th St. Station in south suburban Harvey, both on the Metra Electric Line.
  • Joliet Transit Center (Pace) - Pace, in coordination with the city of Joliet Ill., will host a one-day transit activation event during the annual Kidz Fest hosted by Joliet City Center Partnership. The Pace element of the event will be held in the commuter parking lot adjacent to the Joliet Transit Center. The goal of this event is to promote safety and security along with increasing ridership, while also celebrating Pace’s 40th anniversary.
  • Loyola Red Line Station and Bus Routes 151 and 147 (CTA) - The Rogers Park Business Alliance will hire local bands to perform at the Loyola CTA station plaza and on patios of several businesses located near CTA Route 151 and 147 bus stops on Sheridan Road from 6 to 8 p.m. on three different Friday evenings during the summer. Access to the performances will be free and open to the public and limited seating and refreshments, such as water and popcorn, will be provided.
  • Bus Routes 36 and 81 in Uptown (CTA) - Uptown United will hold free yoga sessions on multiple Saturday mornings and free outdoor music performances on multiple Thursday evenings. The free outdoor yoga will occur on open and accessible section of private property along Broadway and adjacent to CTA Bus Route 36 (Broadway) and 81 (Lawrence), and the free outdoor music performances will occur at the Racine Plaza stage outside the Riviera Theater on Broadway, adjacent to a southbound bus stop servicing Routes 36 and 81.

Project awards are contingent based on pending grant agreements between RTA of Northern Illinois and selected applicants, including their ability to secure any necessary approvals and permits. Final details about the successful implementation of the activations will be shared closer to their event dates.

RTA of Northern Illinois staff will partner with successful grantees to survey attendees and transit riders at the activations to learn more about their experiences and assist in evaluating this pilot program.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.