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LA City Council seeks accountability to address safety concerns on Metro

Prompted by ongoing concerns for riders and bus operators on Metro, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved a motion seeking to bolster safety measures on the transit system.

The council members voted 10-0 to instruct the Los Angeles Police Department and the Metro officials to report to the Public Safety Committee regarding the current statistics on the agency’s trains, buses, platforms and at stations from 2017 to 2024, and include a demographic breakdown of all victims. Council members Kevin de León, Imelda Padilla, Nithya Raman, Heather Hutt and Hugo Soto-Martinez were absent during the vote.

“This is borne out of, for me, just an immense amount of frustration about the safety concerns that continue to go unresolved and addressed,” Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said prior to the vote. She introduced the motion calling for the report.

With Mother’s Day around the corner for much of the U.S. and Latin America, the councilwoman noted that Mirna Soza Arauz — a 66-year-old woman who was stabbed to death on Metro’s B (Red) Line in an unproved attack on April 22 — was not here to enjoy the celebration because this “system failed her.”

“She took that Metro ride home only to be assaulted, stabbed and die as a result of the assault,” Rodriguez said. “This is a system that serves some of the poorest, hardest-working class this city services.”

She added, “And yet, what seems to just constantly amaze me is that we live in a city that can literally move mountains to build safer crossings for wild animals than what we can do to deliver for the people who desperately need to get to their job safely without being assaulted.”

Council members John Lee and Traci Park echoed Rodriguez’s sentiments.

“We don’t let smoking or open drug use happen in restaurants or public buildings,” Park said. “We don’t put up with tagging or vandalism; it is actually a crime to steal or evade payment, and violence against workers and customers isn’t OK in any setting.”

Lee supported Rodriguez’s motion, emphasizing a need to address safety concerns as the 2028 Olympics come to the city. He said, “We can’t have people hearing stories, coming in and already being afraid to use our public transportation system.”

In April, Metro’s Board of Directors approved an emergency procurement of plexiglass barriers for about 2,000 buses. Metro is expected to install the barriers by the end of 2024, rather than their previous timeline of roughly three years. Additionally, Arauz’s death prompted discussions as to how the agency can improve public safety.

The Board of Directors also approved a motion introduced by member and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. She called for staff to secure station gate entrances and exits, analyze data on violent crimes — including those by reoffenders — occurring on the system, and speed up pilot solutions at some of the most “challenging” stations.

Among other measures, the Board of Directors called for quickly increasing security cameras, implementing facial recognition technology and using other technology. The agency may also look into ways of banning problematic individuals from Metro altogether.

Mayor Karen Bass serves as the chair of the board, and L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian and Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky also sit on the board.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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