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Inside station

Sofia Resnick/MEDILL

More than 20 buses, including Pace and Greyhound buses, converge at the 95th Red Line station daily. The station is a transit hub for students who rely on public transportation to get to schools far from home.

95th Street, a hub for transit and crime, becomes focus for beautification

by Sofia Resnick
Oct 21, 2009

95th Stastion

The last stop on the Red Line – 95th Street – is not, for most of the South Siders who travel there daily, a final destination. The station instead is a gateway to a multifaceted commute home.

More than 20 CTA, Pace and Greyhound buses all converge at this one station, which sits under three intersecting highways. Riders wait inside and outside the crowded, doorless facility, wondering how long it will take to get home -- and whether they will get there unscathed.

The city’s attention to violence among CPS students in the wake of the beating death of Derrion Albert has put focus on 95th Street.

As a result of the district’s open enrollment policy, high schoolers travel all over the city on trains and buses just to get to school. Consequently, this station serves as a meeting place for students from rival high schools – a hub for youth-on-youth violence.

One community group, Developing Communities Project, is trying to adopt the station as part of the CTA’s Adopt-a-Station program. Members of the organization have said that 95th, like a needy, neglected child, warrants support and special attention to address some of its darker issues.

“Boundary shifts have forced students from schools like Fenger, Carver Military, Corliss and Julian into corridors where they are strangers. There’s always been issues about safety and shootings at or nearby the station,” said John Paul Jones, who works with the organization, by phone last week.

The idea to adopt 95th came up this summer when the Roseland-based organization toured the station with CTA officials as part of CTA’s proposal to extend the Red Line farther south. Lori Baldwin, who is heading the adoption project, said the transit hub has so many needs that the group decided it was a community issue.

“The goal is to make the 95th Street station a cleaner, greener hub,” Baldwin said.

DCP is submitting the application this week, Baldwin said. The organization intends to beautify the station with local art and will work with CTA to implement more green strategies, such as recycling programs.

The group wants to encourage area students to help paint a mural to go up in the station – to get them more involved in their community and less interested in fighting one another.

“Part of the problem that needs to be discussed is where kids are coming from, what schools,” Baldwin said. “Now you have students going to schools all over the city. A lot of students have to cross two or three different gang territories.”

Early this month Mayor Daley ordered more police officers to patrol mass transit routes – in particular the 95th Street bus terminal – before and after school. Baldwin said she has noticed the added security, but said more needs to be done.
The group has suggested that CTA put doors on the crowded, wide-open station. CTA is too submerged in financial turmoil to fund the project, a station manager told Baldwin.

The issues of perpetually changing school boundaries and aggression among the South Side’s youth are issues that neither the CTA nor the Developing Communities Project can fix on their own, Baldwin said; however, making the station a center of ownership and identity would help struggling South Siders take a certain pride in their community.

CTA implemented its Adopt-a-Station program in 1997 to give business to community groups and schools and to give communities an opportunity to reflect the culture and history of their neighborhoods, according to CTA’s Web site.

“You can see the community reflection in other neighborhood stations,” Baldwin said. “Now [95th Red Line station] is just a station where people walk around mindlessly.”