The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LACMTA) is being forced to deal with the obvious that their bus and rail system is out of control.
A report released to the transit agencies board this week shows an alarming rise in crime and drug related deaths an the plan is to ask for an increase in Metro transit safety officers riding the system.
Gina Osborn, the agencies top safety officer believes adding more transit officers and preventing fare evasion could improve conditions.
“I say the answer is access control,” she said. “Not all fare evaders are criminals, but all criminals are fare evaders.”
There are about 50 Metro transit officers — from a force of 198 — on any given day across the system that stretches the span of Los Angeles County and includes about 100 miles of subway and rail line. That’s in addition to officers from the Los Angeles and Long Beach police departments and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who are contracted to patrol the Metro.
Twenty-one people have died on trains and buses in the Metro system so far this year. There was one homicide, but most died from apparent overdoses. That’s as many who died in all of 2022 and marks a significant departure from the previous years.
This news comes on the heels of Metro awarding a $100 million contract for transit ambassadors who provide unarmed security across the sprawling network. Contracts with law enforcement expire in June.
Critics say people feel unsafe with police on the trains and the contracts should end for good, while Metro users and workers complain that human waste and passed-out rail passengers are increasingly common.
According to a Metro survey last year, 49% of riders were women, compared with 53% in 2019.
Aside from the crime and drug-related deaths, Metro trains continue to hit, and sometimes kill, pedestrians along the rail routes including two people who were killed when a train collided with their car earlier this week.
Safety doesn’t appear to be the board’s top priority – expansion is.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., who is also a member of the Metro board, finagled over $300 million from the agency to build a 1.6-mile transit connector to nowhere, that will shutter nearly 50 businesses and close to 500 part-time and full-time jobs.
The Crenshaw/LAX (K-Line) recently opened and hit a cement truck last week.
Metro continues to work on expanding its system due to the 2028 Olympics arrival which they believe tourists will use to move around.
Complaints about drug use and sales reported on the Metro Transit Watch app skyrocketed nearly 100% last year, compared with the previous year, she said. During the same time, reports of serious crimes shot up 24%. And operators were being assaulted at a rate of about 14 every month.
Board members shared they saw drug deals “first hand” and that the most drug-related deaths occur on the Metro Red Line. Pedestrians are typically injured along the Metro Blue Line.
Metro announced they will begin enforcing no-drug policies on the system but stopped short of saying if that will fall under the jurisdiction of the transit ambassadors or law enforcement.
Metro is currently hiring Transit Security Officers whose job description is to conduct fare inspections, crowd control, and work alongside law enforcement.
Honestly anyone saying that the police make them feel unsafe on Metro is probably smoking crack themselves. It’s absolutely insane and lawless down there. The presence of police is absolutely essential and those people scared of them need to stop regurgitating progressive talking points and look around and how scary this city has become.