Apr 29, 2024 - Transit

Metro Transit reports improvement in ridership, crime

Illustration of a bus that is displaying an upward trend line.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Metro Transit continues to lure back riders and see modest crime reduction as it slowly rebuilds from a pandemic-era plunge in passenger volume.

Why it matters: General manager Lesley Kandaras told reporters Monday she's heartened by the progress, "but at the same time, I ride regularly and we still have significant issues we need to address."

Driving the news: Bus and train ridership increased 13% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year, according to the agency. That follows a 16% increase last year.

  • Crime, meanwhile, fell 7.7% in the first quarter.
  • Serious crimes, including assault and theft, fell by 16.4%.

Reality check: Ridership remains well below pre-pandemic levels, and crime is still up compared to 2019.

State of play: Metro Transit has rolled out several initiatives meant to curb crime and drug use.

  • It launched a team of civilian agents who inspect fares and issue citations earlier this year.
  • Crews installed video monitors on 150 buses and will eventually add them to another 105 buses. These allow passengers to see what is happening around them, and riders know they're being recorded.

Plus: Metro Transit is in the process of cutting light rail service from three cars to two, which it hopes will, in part, reduce unwanted behavior that happens frequently in the middle cars.

What's ahead: New and easier-to-clean vinyl seat covers are being added to buses, starting with A Line service and then for new buses.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the video monitor program will expand to another 105 buses, not 255.

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