Metro Transit Crime – a simple policy worth adopting

Sometimes experts get lost in data, lengthy descriptions of problems and solutions, and ultimately cloudy policy recommendations. It happened to me just yesterday as I spoke with a reporter about transit violence. I found myself going on and on about how the crime problem our MTC faces is complex and was at least partially brought on by the COVID shutdowns and the associated reduction in transit riders. I followed that up with an extended discussion on the need for MTC to “get creative” with their police staffing to ensure they had personnel to conduct proactive policing. 

While none of my information was wrong per say, it was a word salad when the diners needed a steak.

Today’s Star Tribune Opinion Page offered some good red meat. 

Mr. Nick Magrino, a self-described public transit advocate, feels “like a fool” for the effort he has put towards supporting public transportation, because those who are running the MTC are failing to provide a core element for a successful system — rider safety.

“The situation on the trains — particularly the Blue Line, but the Green Line as well — is completely unacceptable. The reported recent 50-some-percent increase in crimes on transit in no way captures the current state of the system. Conditions are far, far worse than they were five or 10 years ago. Crimes are not reported, and crimes that are reported are clearly not recorded.” 

Magrino details his frustration with an MTC that has lost its way in power point presentations, 40-point plans, and the utter failure to enforce the law on our transit system — specifically our light rail.

“The people who have overseen this decline — and now collapse — should be ashamed of themselves. Terrified by a handful of social media activists, they have failed in their responsibility to maintain a public service that was, in recent memory, highly functional and depended upon by tens of thousands of users.”

“Recently, for the first time in years, I saw Metro Transit police on a Blue Line train, who politely asked people openly doing drugs and drinking in the middle of the day to get off the train. I am pretty confident that, after getting off, they got on the next train.”

Magrino offers a perfectly simple policy shift:

“Here’s the one-point plan we need: people who are brazenly breaking the law will be arrested.”   

The plan is blunt, but it should serve as a reminder to us all that sometimes the solutions to “complex problems” are best when kept simple and straightforward.  Well done Mr. Magrino.