Dufty holds hearing on Muni passenger safety

A problem is causing rolling delays in the Muni Metro light rail system.

November 23, 2009 8:01:36 PM PST
Public transit is getting attention in San Francisco. At a Board of Supervisors committee meeting Monday on Muni safety, police announced an increased presence to cope with the rising crime rate.

For a commuter the 14-Mission through San Francisco's Ingleside District should be just another bus ride. Unfortunately, it is not.

"There's a lot of bad things that's been happening on busses lately," Muni rider Emmanuel Mitchel said.

Muni's own surveillance videos show that. City wide, there has been a rash of assaults, robberies, and fights -- 876 incidents in the past year alone.

Monday, a Board of Supervisors committee listened to horror stories.

Margaret Mooney described being beaten for empty seat.

"Nobody did anything to help me; you needed to help me," she said.

"I think as it relates to policing on Muni, I think it's been abysmal, I think it's been a huge disappointment," Supervisor Bevan Dufty said.

The San Francisco Police Department is hoping to curtail the problem. It has begun using statistics to track, anticipate and it hopes, prevent crime.

"My reaction was, 'It's obvious where the problem lines are; it's right on the map,'" SFPD Deputy Chief John Murphy said.

The 14-Mission is one of them; in the Ingleside District, police can predict the days, even the hours when crimes are more likely to occur. Tuesdays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. are problematic.,

"Numbers show it peaks at 3 o'clock; I think it's mainly because that's when school gets out and busses become more crowed," SFPD Captain David Lazar said.

In Ingleside, police have increased their presence in the pilot program. Some officers spend as much as half their beats on busses. Since October they have written close to 300 citations and focused on the problem runs.

"We think it's reducing crime; people on the bus feel more comfortable riding the bus," SFPD Officer Tom Hauscariague said.

Muni riders can expect more of this in districts city wide. Police say they are going to look hard for better numbers.

"I would love to see it match and mirror the homicide rare; it's down 56-58 percent," Murphy said.


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