With several well-publicized violent incidents on Muni buses recently, including two brutal attacks
and a videotaped fight
, security has become a hot issue for the MTA. Though the agency actually reported a slight decrease in crime over the past fiscal year, it hasn't matched the 13 percent citywide drop in the most serious crimes over the first half of 2009. The San Francisco Police Department responded in late September with a one-day sting called "Operation Safe Muni
," and the MTA has scrambled to test its onboard camera equipment
, which has failed during several incidents, including the stabbing of a young boy in September and the West Portal light rail vehicle crash
Earlier this month, Sacramento Regional Transit launched a program it's calling "Ride to Abide," which allows the agency to ban riders who misbehave on its vehicles for up to a year. Given the recent high-profile violent incidents on Muni, we decided to take a closer look at the policy, which VTA Watch highlighted earlier this week, and see if Muni could benefit from a similar rule.
The policy is the result of Senate Bill 1561, authored by State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacremento). From Regional Transit's press release:
"Effective October 1, 2009, anyone arrested for a crime or cited on three separate occasions within a period of 60 consecutive days for infractions committed in or on an RT vehicle, bus stop or light rail station will now face a ban of 30 days. Offenders can be banned for up to a year if convicted of more serious offenses.
Interfering with an operator of a transit vehicle, willfully disturbing others on or in a system facility or vehicle, and defacing District property could all result in exclusion."
The policy also "provides an appeals process for individuals who opt to contest a prohibition order," according to the press release. Except in the case of the most serious offenses, banned riders can also petition for exceptions to their ban for absolutely necessary trips, such as to work.