Angelenos are moving away from using public transportation as drug use, violence and fatal overdoses soar, according to recent reports.
“We don’t even see business people anymore. We don’t see anybody going to Universal. It’s just people who don’t have a choice.” [than] homeless people and drug users to ride the system,” an unidentified train operator told the Los Angeles Times.
Serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, murder and rape, on Los Angeles trains and buses increased 24% last year compared to 2021, while other less serious crimes increased 14%, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The rise in lawlessness has left many riders unhappy, and LA Metro security officer Gina Osborn reported last month that the agency had seen a 99% year-over-year increase in rider complaints about fellow riders. who possessed or used drugs. LA Metro received 1,385 reports of narcotics use last year alone, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
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The train conductor who spoke to the Los Angeles Times said he sees “horror” every day, citing how he saw a man masturbating on a seat earlier that day, and often sees “sleepers,” people taking drugs and falling asleep in trains. trains, on their routes.
As of March, at least 22 people have died on public transportation from suspected drug overdoses, which is more than the 21 people who died of various causes in all of 2022, the Los Angeles Times found.
Violence and drug use have apparently kept Angelenos off public transportation, with ridership on the Gold Line, which links East Los Angeles to Union Station, at only 30% of levels. prior to the pandemic in January, found the medium. The Red Line, which runs from downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood, was just 56% of its pre-pandemic levels in January.
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Transit officials have responded to crime spikes by committing $122 million to a program in the past year to deploy 300 ambassadors on public transportation. The ambassadors are unarmed and report crimes while also assisting some passengers.
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“I think there is something in the culture of the cycling public, that if they know that there is someone who is empowered to denounce [illegal activity] that can be an impediment to the activity itself,” Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins told the Los Angeles Times.
However, reporting drug crimes to the police often leads to dead ends, the outlet found. Police made 49 arrests on the Red Line during the last three months of 2022, but only one led to a criminal filing as of February.
Drug possession in California is often considered a misdemeanor, and such cases fall into the ranks of importance.
Criminals also target maintenance workers at the MacArthur Park/Westlake station, where 22,000 people board trains daily and steal their cars, according to the Los Angeles Times. The station is next door to a notorious open-air drug market, with gangs controlling many of the vendors.
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“It is the most challenging [station] related to drug use,” Conan Cheung, Metro’s chief operating officer, told the Los Angeles Times of the MacArthur Park/Westlake station.