Metro to Raise Security on Buses

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Surveillance cameras, hard plastic barriers and other measures are being rolled out on Metro buses to protect drivers against assaults, transit officials announced late last week.

The measures are in response to a 35 percent rise in attacks against bus drivers since 2012, with 138 assaults reported in 2014, Metro officials said.

One-third of such disputes arise from disagreements over fare, officials said.

Metro has purchased at least 123 buses equipped with polycarbonate barriers next to the driver’s seat. The transit agency also started installing closed-circuit television monitors in November, with 166 buses now equipped with the surveillance systems.

Officials said they plan to put the monitors on 268 buses by June. Each bus will have two monitors, one showing riders boarding the vehicle and another showing the seating area.

Passengers will be able to see what is being recorded, which is thought to deter illegal behavior on buses, Metro officials said. Accordingly, they said, the assault rates have fallen on buses now equipped with CCTV monitors.

“The installation of CCTV monitors is a visual indication to potential lawbreakers that they are being watched, and the prospect of almost certain arrest is enough to prevent many criminals from committing offenses,” Metro board member Diane DuBois said.

Other measures to protect passengers and Metro’s 4,000 bus drivers include an automated fare announcement, training bus drivers on how to defuse conflicts, and an outreach campaign to help humanize bus drivers to the public.

Metro is also working with state lawmakers to stiffen penalties for assaults on bus drivers, with a measure being proposed to triple the current $10,000 fine and lengthen the maximum one-year prison time.

The sheriff’s Transit Policing Division deployed deputies in November and December on East Los Angeles Division 10 buses as part of a pilot study into fare enforcement and other issues.

Metro officials said the measures are being carried out to protect both drivers and passengers.

“Angelenos can feel safe riding Metro, and we are committed to keeping it that way,” Los Angeles Mayor and Metro board Chair Eric Garcetti said. “Our strategy is to strengthen enforcement and increase the use of technology so that both operators and passengers feel secure on Metro buses.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is urging passengers to assist in keeping the buses safe by calling 911 or (888) 950-SAFE (7233) to report crimes and medical emergencies.

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