Open in App

Safety is a concern for LA metro riders and officials are trying to find the best solutions


When the Los Angeles Police Department announced the arrest of the teen accused of stabbing a Metro bus driver in Woodland Hills, it highlighted some of the safety issues plaguing L.A. transit.

"It's scary. It's a scary thing," said Tania West, who has been riding Metro buses and trains for the past 10 years and said she never feels safe.

She said she was sexually assaulted a couple years ago in the Red Line parking lot when she got off a bus.

An Eyewitness News analysis of LAPD data shows that violent crime reported on Metro trains and buses, and at its stations, is rising.

Over the last 12 months of available data, the number of homicides, rapes, assaults and robberies reported by LAPD on Metro properties increased 14% to 16% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Click here to open this graph in a new window

Though it is important to note that the number of violent crimes reported on Metro trains, buses and stations make up just about 2% of all violent crime reported by LAPD.

West said she thinks there should be more of a police presence, and "more people actually looking out for each other."

But more police isn't the only solution to people feeling unsafe on the Metro.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass - who serves on the Metro board - said getting more of the homeless into housing or treatment programs will alleviate the pressures on public transit.

"The majority of the time we spend on that board, we are talking about homelessness and we are talking about public safety, and so what we are doing in both of those areas will also help Metro," Bass said.

People experiencing homelessness are the victims and/or suspects of about 30% of violent crimes reported on Metro over the last 12 months.

At the last Los Angeles Police Commission meeting , members questioned Police Chief Michel Moore about LAPD's efforts to keep Metro safe for riders.

Moore said LAPD dedicates more than 150 shifts each day to Metro, those officers riding both trains and buses.

He said it's paying off with more weapon-related arrests in areas where LAPD has placed more officers, and decreases in crime on the Red Line, for example.

Moore said he is "encouraged by the focus of the MTA board as well as CEO [Stephanie] Wiggins" in understanding the "capital characteristics of these stations and the operations of these lines that contribute to unsafe conditions and a perception of a lack of safety."

But even with localized successes like that, fewer people are using Metro.

Metro ridership numbers through March show the number of boardings was only up to about three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels.

Click here to open this graph in a new window

Though this may not all have to do with safety. The U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey found that 3.1 million people worked from home or teleworked at least one day a week in L.A. and Orange counties, about 32% of those surveyed by Census in April and May 2023.

Moore said at the Commissioners meeting that while he does not want to dismiss people who have been victims of crimes on the Metro, he pointed out that "millions and millions of riders" do safely ride the system.

Even with ridership down, in 2022 there were still nearly 700,000 boardings per day on the metro, and LAPD recorded less than 4 violent crimes per day on Metro trains buses and stations.

LAPD isn't the only police force Metro uses. Depending on location, the Long Beach Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department also patrol Metro, but the trends are likely similar.

"Critically important to our success is the entire network of what MTA establishes for safety and security of their lines. It's not simply uniformed officers it is also layered, and those layers need to be effective and engaged," Moore said.

He pointed to another "layer" being the recently deployed Metro Ambassador Program , which was launched less than three months ago.

It's not clear yet what impact the program will have on safety.

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment

Comments / 0