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?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.