Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sacramento Transit, Part Two

Now if we can just keep it a safe ride.

Editorial: Time to require civility on Regional Transit trains and buses
Published 12:00 am PDT Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Sacramento resident who describes himself as "an older person" e-mailed The Bee recently to explain how lack of security on Regional Transit light rail trains led him to give up the continuing education class he attended at Sacramento City College. He rode light rail to class. "During my rides," he told The Bee, "I encountered spaced out drug addicts, boisterous gangs of youths, ticketless riders, fresh vomit and an overall lack of security presence that became unnerving." (The letter is reprinted here.)

Is that one person's experience typical? Sadly, a 2006 survey of RT riders suggests that it may be. Regular light-rail riders who responded to the survey cited "lack of security" as their No. 1 concern. District crime statistics tend to validate their concerns. RT says passengers reported 31 felonies and 23 misdemeanors committed in March aboard trains, buses or at light-rail stations and bus stops. In addition, there were 1,700 infractions reported, almost all of them fare evasions.

To help Regional Transit deal with unruly and criminal behavior aboard buses and trains, Sen. Darrell Steinberg introduced Senate Bill 1561, a measure that would give transit districts the authority to bar misbehaving passengers from buses and trains for up to one year. Similar laws in Washington and Oregon have helped make transit safer. But even before it reached its first hearing, Steinberg's bill ran into opposition from civil libertarians, who feared it would be used by transit districts to target the mentally ill or homeless.