Transportation
Written by Tom Steward | February 4, 2020

The Dangers of Riding Light Rail

Public criticism and concern continues to mount over the dangers of riding the Twin Cities’ light rail system and lax enforcement by local authorities. Serious crime has shot up by 35 percent on and near light rail lines with dozens of aggravated assaults and reports of gun violence.

The latest salvo on the system comes in a blunt first person account by Christopher Hartnett, a self-described Minneapolis liberal, who submitted a scathing letter to the editor of the Star Tribune.

I recently rode the light rail from work to the airport for a business trip. I use our terrific rapid transit system whenever I can for the typical reasons: reduced carbon footprint, low cost, stress-free commute, etc. As I sat down I was enveloped with the smell of cigarette smoke. When I looked around I saw the gentleman behind me surreptitiously taking a drag on a cigarette, filling the air between us with smoke. When I told him that smoking wasn’t allowed, he became aggressive and I felt a confrontation coming on. I picked up my bags and moved to another car. As I walked down the car, I passed a man snoring from his sleeping bag on another set of seats.

The author then shared his admirable commitment to helping the homeless by donating his personal time and finances, including at his church. Yet he draws the line at antisocial and threatening behavior on the public transit system.

But my concern for and commitment to the homeless does not extend to breathing secondhand smoke, feeling threatened and sitting in another’s bedroom while I travel on the light rail (“Make light rail safer,” editorial, Jan. 27). I applaud our community’s financial commitment to building this very expensive system, but if these are the conditions that one faces when riding a train, I will no longer utilize or actively support this system.

Remember, Hartnett is a light rail supporter for all  the politically correct reasons. But he won’t be much longer, unless city hall takes back control of the system.

We have opened our wallets to help build this system, and in return I ask that the operators provide a safe and reasonable ride. They are failing miserably at this. We can solve our tragic homeless problem without ruining our mass transit system.

A glance at the paper’s comments section and you realize Harnett speaks for what may be a new “silent majority” in the making among liberals who expect more for their taxes and from their local elected officials.

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