By Kevin Scott
The safety and security of our region’s public transit system has taken another significant step forward with the implementation of a new Ride and Abide policy. Developed in collaboration with regional leaders and law enforcement partners, our new Metro Transit policy is an important tool that allows us to suspend the transit privileges for individuals who repeatedly engage in prohibited conduct on the Metro Transit system or whose behavior is determined to be unacceptably offensive or serious.
While serious incidents and crimes on our system are rare, they do occur, and a thorough analysis of the crime data reveals the majority of these more serious incidents result from the actions of a very small number of individuals. Now we can directly address those violators through the new Ride and Abide policy. The focus is not to address minor offenses, like eating on the train or not validating your ticket. This new policy puts individuals who engage in serious, unacceptable behavior on alert that their behavior will not be tolerated.
While we will determine the length of suspensions of transit privileges on a case-by-case basis, certain criteria will apply to all. For the first offense, the suspension period will range from one day to six months. Anyone committing a second offense will face a suspension period of more than twelve months, up to a permanent suspension of transit privileges. A suspension in excess of twelve months for the first offense may be issued if it is determined the individual poses an immediate and serious threat to the safety of the Metro Transit system. If an individual returns to the Metro Transit system during their suspension period, then the individual may be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution.
We are already enforcing the Ride and Abide Policy. In fact, five individuals currently have their transit privileges suspended for conduct that includes major property damage, assault and disorderly conduct. Any passenger whose transit privileges are suspended is entitled to a review, and is informed through a written notice that includes a description of the conduct that led to the suspension and instructions for requesting a review.
We firmly believe this new policy will help us deliver on our commitment to continue to operate a safe transit system that provides millions of trips each year. Safety and security is our top priority every single day. We want our riders to enjoy a safe, comfortable, and convenient transit experience on Metro. To achieve that, we expect everyone who rides Metro Transit to follow the Passenger Code of Conduct. That is a reasonable set of rules and guidelines that reinforce respecting their fellow riders. Through mutual respect and compliance with this expectation, together we can create a positive and comfortable transit community.
Kevin Scott is the General Manager of Field Security for Metro Transit.