Metro Transit getting safer; some riders not so sure

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A letter to the editor published this week in the Star Tribune about late-night fights and shenanigans at a busy downtown Minneapolis bus stop prompted me to call Metro Transit. I wanted to know if there has been an uptick in bus-related crime or police calls lately. Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland, sent me an email about the bus stop mentioned in the Star Tribune letter.

“The bus stop at 7th and Nicollet is the single busiest transit stop in the state with over 4,100 boardings each weekday. The area at 7th and Nicollet is under constant video surveillance with cameras at many sources – such as area businesses. All Metro Transit buses have video recording equipment. Cameras can capture activity both inside and off-board the vehicle. Over 1,200 buses serve stops at the intersection of 7th and Nicollet every weekday (850+ on Saturday and 600+ on Sunday). During rush hours, Metro Transit buses serve stops at the intersection about once a minute.”

Siqveland also says buses are getting safer.

“From 2006 to 2010, crimes per 100,000 rides have steadily declined from 11.9 to 6.8. Metro Transit Police use a broad definition of crime compared with other transit agencies. Serious crimes like robberies and assaults make up a very small share of the total and ‘quality of life’ or ‘nuisance’ crimes make up the vast majority. ‘Quality of life’ crimes include things like fare disputes and evasion, smoking, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, etc.”

Metro Transit Police officials credit a number of factors for the decline in crime, including partnerships with groups like MAD DADS. Members of the non-profit group regularly ride the buses to help keep order along bus routes frequented by rowdy riders. Last year, I rode with a group of the physically imposing, yet extremely polite, DADS for an afternoon for this story. The men chatted and joked with passengers, and no one got out of line.

Do you ride Metro Transit buses? What’s your experience? Ever run into unruly characters at a bus stop or on the bus?

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