Police Don't Make Transit Safer, Report Says

TransitCenter's "Safety for All" report provides a counterargument to the "send more police" response to public safety concerns on public transit systems.

1 minute read

July 26, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A group of police officers wearing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic gather on a subway platform in New York City.

lev radin / Shutterstock

Sandy Smith shares news of a new report published by TransitCenter, "Safety for All," which studies the issue of public safety on public transit systems and produces a potentially counterintuitive conclusion: "transit systems overall rely too much on police to serve as the guarantors of safety."

As Smith notes, this conclusion has long been the opinion of many transit advocates, who have pointed to the poor track record of police with race and noted that for many, police are a deterrent for the use of public transit.

"Police, the report says, are also ill-trained and ill-equipped to deal with unhoused people riding transit, who often cause passenger discomfort simply by existing," explains Smith.

Among the case studies examined by the report are efforts to rethink public safety on BART in the San Francisco Bay Area and Tri-Met in Portland. Also,, writes Smith, "One of the innovative approaches it highlights is Philadelphia’s Hub of Hope, a service center located in a subway concourse, jointly run by SEPTA and Project HOME, that offers bathrooms, showers, meals and other services for homeless individuals."

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