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January 20, 2012

Transit violence signals need for more security

by Nicole Schlosser

In the second half of 2011, we saw more stories of assaults on public transit properties, and, unfortunately, 2012 isn’t shaping up to be much better so far. The transit agencies in question and their communities are struggling to prevent future incidents and have different ideas regarding how that should be done.

We saw two prevalent news stories this week regarding violence at transit agencies: two fatal attacks at Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) train stations and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (Metro) reviewing the installation of shields on buses to protect drivers from assault and increased police presence after a passenger was shot last October.

After introducing the plan, Washington, D.C. agency officials got pushback from board members who “didn’t want to alarm riders.” So, instead of installing 250 shields on buses, they now plan to add 100 as part of a pilot, according to The Washington Post. There also seems to be a mixed reaction from drivers themselves, based on the article. Some, particularly female drivers, welcome the measure, while others consider them to be an intrusion. GM Richard Sarles is also asking for money to hire more officers to patrol buses and riders want surveillance cameras installed on all buses.

That’s something Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority drivers were asking for last September, after one driver was shot in the arm after she told a man he couldn’t board the bus and another was shot at and injured by flying glass.

Meanwhile, DART had one fatal shooting this week at its Pearl Station and one attack in November, which involved a man being pushed into a moving train after a robbery attempt. In response, the agency plans to add surveillance cameras to all rail stations by spring. However, passengers are calling for stepped-up police presence at stations.

While both agencies report that generally their services are very safe, seeing more of these incidents reported in the press seems to indicate the need for more preventive measures, whatever they may be. What do you think would be more effective?

Nicole Schlosser

Senior Editor

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  • Sam Silverstein[ January 21th, 2012 @ 5:38am ]

    I was under the impressions that some transit agencies had tried the protective shields and found little to no change, or even an increase in incidents. Is SEPTA installing the shields too? Or are they going to be using the training class that is mentioned in the other article on here?

  • Jeff Brown[ January 23th, 2012 @ 4:08am ]

    Currently there's only one exit from the driver's seat of a transit vehicle. This is a safety issue for violence or accidents. Even with more than one door in the bus, the driver still has to get out of the cab area through a single opening. Every other vehicle on the street, however complex their controls, still has a driver's door for a safe emergency exit. Give the driver a safe exit and perhaps they will be able to avoid a confrontation instead of being cornered in that seat.

  • Mark Patzloff[ January 23th, 2012 @ 10:44am ]

    What is the evidence of on-bus or in-station cameras deterring crime ? or at least what is the general trend ? Cameras seem to be the preferred budget alternative vs. the labor cost of police patrols. What does the data say about their preventative role ?


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