CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the CTA is defending a decision to replace security guards at ‘L’ train stations with CTA customer service representatives.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports CTA President Forrest Claypool said riders would be much safer with full-time CTA customer service reps working at ‘L’ stops than security guards from the Securitas company.

“We have over 30 percent turnover on these employees. They come and they go,” he said.

The CTA’s contract with Securitas Security Services USA runs out in July.

Claypool said the customer service reps will offer a stable presence at CTA stations, and know the community where they work.

“What we replace them with is the permanent security guards and customer assistants that people are accustomed to in our stations, with the bright yellow vests, that have double the training, that know how to assist our customers,” he said.

The CTA has hired more than 700 new customer service associates, and plans to have them in place by the end of the summer.

Claypool said, in addition to providing security, the customer assistants will be able to provide help when riders are stymied by malfunctioning ticket machines, or when disabled riders need help getting on trains.

“They’re a stable, permanent, full-time resource for our customers. It’s a significant improvement in service, and a significant improvement in security,” he said.

Claypool said Chicago police will continue to patrol the CTA as well, and that the system has thousands of security cameras on board trains and buses, and at its stations.

He said the increased numbers of transit cops and surveillance cameras working the CTA system helped drive violent crime down 30 percent at CTA stations.