Podcast: Addressing the Root Causes of Transit Violence

Deploying transit police is a short-term fix. How can transit agencies build sustainable safety efforts?

1 minute read

April 24, 2024, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View from back of BART Police SUV driving down street in San Francisco, California.

BART Police vehicle in San Francisco, California. | Sundry Photography / Adobe Stock

A recent episode of Streetsblog’s The Brake podcast discusses security on public transit, questioning whether an increased police presence addresses violence effectively.

According to Urban Institute Senior Research Associate Lindiwe Rennert, “Criminologists, as well as folks who just study transit and behavior in public space, have identified that bringing in law enforcement may decrease instances of violence in the short run, and [the effect is] highly concentrated to the spots in which they are located. And that what you would expect is very soon after the presence is removed, or relocated, violence and crime in that space surges right back up.” Rennert also points out that extra law enforcement is usually funded from a transit agency’s operational budget.

One actionable solution is improving transit service overall. “There is something to be said for transit agencies actually focusing on improving their service as much as possible and offering the best and most service they can as a means of decreasing assaults. It cuts down on the opportunity for violence, as well as frustrations in the systems when your service is of a high quality.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Streetsblog USA

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