Muni crime could stop some services

March 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
In San Francisco, there's been an increase in violence on Muni buses traveling through Bayview-Hunters Point. Police say they'll increase their presence on the buses. Transit officials are also considering suspending services along those routes.

A recent Muni video shows a group of teenagers attacking a passenger as they steal his iPod. Another video shows a female passenger attacking a bus driver.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 10 incidents on two Muni routes that go through the public housing projects in Hunters Point -- the 44 O'Shaunessy and 54 Felton lines.

"We got to keep our distance from them because they don't care if there are cameras on the bus or whatever. They have that attitude that they want somebody to pick on," says Muni bus driver Ken Thomas.

On Wednesday, the union representing the drivers held a meeting with police to voice concerns about their safety.

This is not the first time violence has affected Muni service in Hunters Point. In the early 90's, when there was an increase of violence, drivers refused to operate their buses in the neighborhood without police escorts.

This time, Muni officials say if the violence doesn't stop, they may suspend service on the two lines.

"We would consider any kind of reroute or changing service on a case by case basis, but we certainly don't have plans to do that now," say Muni spokesperson Judson True.

If they do that, Hunters Point residents we spoke with say that would disrupt their lives.

"It would be very hard to take away service from the people who aren't a part of the problem and they're trying to get to work," says resident Ora Thornton, a Hunters Point resident..

"It's hard to get from Third Street up on the hill without a bus. Most people have their groceries and little children," says James Langford, a resident of Hunters Point.

After the meeting, Deputy Chief Tony Parra said there would be more police on buses and escorts by patrol cars.

"We're also looking at conducting plain clothes surveillance in the problem areas. We're looking at having undercover officers riding the system as well," says Parra.

So far, no arrests have been made. Police believe the assailants are teenagers or young adults.