Updated: August 10, 2021 10:17 PM
Created: August 10, 2021 09:28 PM
The Metropolitan Council says dangerous criminal activity on public transit systems has gone up on buses and light rail trains since the start of the pandemic. The head of the Met Council now says safety is the agency's "No. 1 priority."
A preliminary survey commissioned by the Met Council asked close to 800 public transit customers how they feel about safety on buses and light rail cars and what they would like to see done to make things safer.
Met Council Chairman Charlie Zelle told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the survey didn't have a lot of surprises, but it did give his agency some very specific issues they need to address to make sure the customer experience on public transit is the “best it can be.”
“This is such a lifeblood for businesses, for people, and they have to feel safe, and, I mean, that’s a fundamental need and it is a wake-up call for us to take action,” Zelle said. “It’s priority No. 1, for sure, and if we’re not taking care of our customers, we are out of business and we need to address fundamental concerns.”
Of those questioned, just under a third of the respondents said they felt safe, another third said they were “neutral” on the safety questions and a little more than a third said they didn't feel safe while riding a Metro Transit bus or train.
“We are hiring 10 additional officers and we will be adding 70 part-time community service officers, but there are other things that are important, too,” Zelle said. “We learned things like better lighting, cleanliness of the LRT or buses and even the on-time performance of our system are all things that matter to people when they consider whether they feel safe and those are specific things we can act on.”
The preliminary survey, conducted by the Citizens League and Twin Cities Innovation Alliance, also asked bus drivers, light rail operators and other Metro Transit employees how they felt about safety on the job.
Most of the front-line employees said they “feel unsafe” on the job and also said they “need greater access to police response and presence” and they are “anxious, concerned and disengaging.”
Zelle said the full survey results will be finished and presented publicly by mid-September.
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