Transit Experts From Across the Country Discuss MetroLink Security

Most felt Metro has a perception problem in addition to a safety problem

Brett Blume
November 16, 2018 - 11:42 am

KMOX file photo

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How do other cities work to improve safety and rider experience on board their public transit systems?

To find out those in charge of running the Metrolink rail line invited transit experts from across the country to St. Louis to talk about it during a panel discussion Friday morning. Among the cities represented include Sacramento, Portland, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington D.C.

Related: New Study Will Look at Recommendations for Metrolink Safety

In attendance was Jim Wild, who is the Executive Director of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. He said the presence of police officers and security staff on the trains is key.

"So there's a presence and people can see those individuals," Wild told KMOX's Brett Blume after the panel. "It's not accomplishing anything when incidents are occurring on the train."

Related: New Bill Would Give Police More Authority on Metrolink

Lisa Hinz with the Sacramento Police Department had some ideas to restore the community's confidence in MetroLink.

"I think [St. Louis] has a ton of resources. What you can do is revisit your whole security model. Consider arming some of the security guards, but also getting a massive amount of security staff on the trains."

Related: Argument Leads to Shooting on Metrolink Platform

Citizens for Modern Transit organized the panel. Director Kim Cella listened carefully as experts from around the country weighed in on the pros and cons that they see in the local transit system.

"The real opportunities are putting a presence on trains," Cella stated. "Let's see security ride with the riders...it's all about customer service."

She called the current Metro transit system "safe and secure" but said rider confidence is about perception, and they want to see more on-board security.

Findings from a Metrolink rider survey show the average level of safety felt by customers was a "three" on a scale of 1-10, and three-out-of-four riders expressed concern about a lack of security presence on board trains.

The panel looking into ways to improve safety on Metrolink is due to release their final report early next year.