Metro Transit annual report: Crime up 25%, ridership up 15% from 2022 to 2023

Metro Transit provides update on safety after weekend shooting

Metro Transit provides update on safety after weekend shooting

Metro Transit leadership on Monday gave an annual update to its ongoing Safety & Security Action Plan.

The press briefing fell on the heels of a shooting on a light rail train on Saturday evening near the intersection of E 12th Street and Robert Street. A 27-year-old man, who told officers that he was robbed before the shooting, was hospitalized.

Asked during Monday’s press briefing, Metro Transit Police Chief Ernest Morales III reported overall crime was up 25% last year compared to 2022, adding, “But I want to remind everybody that we are recovering and coming out of COVID so ridership is also up as well.”

Ridership was up 15% year-over-year, according to Metro Transit’s general manager Lesley Kandaras.

Given the update, the Metro Transit officials said they’ve put increasing police and security presence on trains and buses at the top of its list of “action items” in the ongoing plan.

As of Monday, Chief Morales reported the police department is down 63 full-time officers, 49 part-time officers and 57 non-sworn community service officers.

While he said they’ve already upped officer presence, Chief Morales said they weren’t on the Green Line train on Saturday when the shooting happened.

“And it’s a tragic incident. There is no excuse for it. We can definitely be deploying people smarter, and something that’s being looked at,” Morales continued.

Metro Transit also reported recently contracting 10 community organizations to fill in the gap.

Nonprofit We Push For Peace was one of them. Founder and CEO Tray Pollard earlier on Monday said his staff was out on Saturday night, but they were on the Blue Line.

“And to be honest with you, it really saddened me,” he said in reaction to the news.

Pollard said they’ve been riding the Green Line in the morning and the Blue Line in the evening for the last month.

What they’re encountering, primarily, is addiction, manifesting as open drug use and homelessness on the trains, he said, adding that he hopes the relationships staff makes with riders ultimately help connect people to services.

“And to engage with a lot of the young folks,” Pollard said. “Because they are young. They are young, anywhere from 18 to 25 years of age.”

“You can’t make a difference if you’re not in the trenches, and you’re not out there trying to actually make a difference,” he continued.

Pollard said that the couple of months they’re funded for will only scratch the surface of making meaningful change if the contract isn’t ultimately continued.

Asked about the concern, Kandaras said the time frame was set when Metro Transit got the money from the State Legislature. She noted other ways to pay for it and said it’s an “active conversation.”

Metro Transit also reported the launch of a recruiting campaign in the last month, including up to $8,000 in hiring bonuses.

A spokesperson for St. Paul police, who are handling the investigation into Saturday night’s shooting, said there are no updates to the investigation as of Monday.

The department did note that the victim “remains stable and is recovering from his injuries.”

Improving Metro Transit safety

Improving Metro Transit safety