© Drazen Zigic / Freepik Stock

© Drazen Zigic / Freepik Stock

Transit crimes are on the rise, putting fear in the hearts of riders. The consequence: low ridership across the board. This is a catch 22, as increased ridership is a key deterrent of crime. The more people milling about, the lower the crime rates.

The Transit Chicken and Egg Paradox

In a survey conducted by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), 73% of riders are more worried about crime and harassment on trains and in stations today than six months ago. The survey also discovered fear of crime is keeping riders from returning to the system. [1]   

MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins is on record saying, “we know that if our riders feel safe from crime […], they will come back to transit and back to the city.”[2]

Prior to the pandemic, the New York subway was fairly safe. Two things contributed to this level of safety: high ridership and consistent law enforcement. The NYPD, however, had already reduced subway police coverage prior to the pandemic. This points towards large crowds onboard transit as extremely effective at deterring crime. [3]  

To increase transit safety, agencies need to bring back riders. For riders to want to come back, they need to feel safe.

A Complex Issue that Needs a Multi-Pronged Approach

This is a complex issue that has a serious and far-reaching impact involving smart cities, carbon footprints, and access to employment for all walks of life. It’s a problem that needs to be solved ‘yesterday’ and could take multiple approaches to solve.

One approach uses cameras and monitors to do two things:

  1. Communicate relevant information to passengers and;
  2. Playback live on-board video footage to the passengers themselves.

Let’s dive into how and why this approach is so effective.

The City of Edmonton, and students from MacEwan University recently spent a semester looking for ways to improve safety and security on transit.

The students surveyed transit passengers and reviewed in-progress efforts by the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) to enhance safety, including:

  • Additional security guards
  • Peace officers
  • Shields for bus operators
  • Transit community outreach teams

One attention-getting project was better connecting passengers to transit services already available. Most passengers surveyed said they weren’t aware of what was available, or they weren’t sure how the services worked and didn’t feel comfortable using them.

The study found one of the most effective solutions for improving safety was helping people perceive they are safe, letting them know they have the ability to reach out, and letting them know they are covered throughout their transit experience. [4]

Infotainment and Public Display Systems: The Bridge to Passenger Safety

This brings us back to the use of cameras and monitors (Infotainment and Public Display Monitors) for passenger communication and playback of live on-board footage. This type of easy-to-implement (and low-cost) system does two things:

  1. Shows passengers they are on-camera. When passengers board the bus, they see themselves displayed on a large monitor. Camera systems on their own are proven to reduce crime. This positive effect is compounded when passengers see themselves on camera. [5] 
  2. Operates as an information source for passengers, by relaying relevant information such as next stop, transit connections and even advertisements. BONUS: Ads offer the transit agency and additional revenue stream.

An Infotainment/Public Display system includes a display monitor, installed in one or more locations on the bus, and a media player. Monitors are available in a number of sizes and functionality options, including split screen for multiple inputs. The media player is portable and compact and displays video or images based on pre-defined campaigns, priorities or location-based data. Content can also be swapped out at a moment’s notice.

Create a New Transit Safety Narrative

Infotainment systems help form a stronger connection between the passenger and agency, meeting the goal set out by the MacEwan University students. These systems address all three elements essential to helping passengers feel safe aboard transit: 1) The feeling of safety, 2) Understanding how to reach out for help if needed, and 3) Knowing the agency has their back throughout the journey.

About Safe Fleet

Safe Fleet has a vision to reduce preventable deaths and injuries in and around fleet vehicles. Their mission is to make fleet vehicles smarter, so people are safer. Through its advanced technology group, Safe Fleet delivers smart solutions, like Infotainment and Public Display Monitors, that fleets need to survive and thrive in a changing world.

Learn more at safefleet.net/infotainment


[5] https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/27546/412401-Evaluating-the-Use-of-Public-Surveillance-Cameras-for-Crime-Control-and-Prevention-A-Summary.PDF