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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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RELEASE: Rep. Torkelson: Time to Get Serious about Metro Transit Safety

Friday, November 01, 2019

ST. PAUL — State Representative Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, Republican Lead on the House Transportation Finance Division, announced today that he is planning to examine a number of safety proposals in preparation to introduce legislation during the upcoming legislative session to address rising levels of crime and violence on Metro Transit light rail trains and at stations. 

“Minnesotans from across the state use the light rail to commute to work, attend sporting events and concerts, or travel to the airport,” said Torkelson. “Sadly, Metro Transit’s own data reveals a transit system in crisis with a record number of assaults, robberies, and other criminal activity taking place on trains and at light rail stations. Minnesotans deserve to feel safe when using the light rail system and it’s clear that the Metropolitan Council is not doing enough to ensure their safety. It's time for the legislature to consider enhanced security measures to make sure Metro Transit employees and the public are able to use light rail without fear of being assaulted or robbed.”

Torkelson said that lawmakers will be evaluating several proposals to enhance rider safety, which could potentially include:

  • Examining the cost/benefit of constructing barriers or turnstiles to prevent individuals from accessing LRT platforms without purchasing a ticket, and exploring options to enhance security and fare compliance on platforms
  • Directing Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council to prioritize an increase in sworn Metro Transit Officers, and an increase in officers present on light rail trains and platforms
  • Creating a crime for loitering on a light rail station platform and allowing law enforcement to ticket those loitering who haven't paid for a fare
  • Mandates to increase the number of fare inspectors and frequency of officers checking tickets on trains, as well as a requirement that officers issue citations to anyone without a valid ticket

According to Metro Transit there were 59 aggravated assaults—violent incidents that involve a weapon causing serious injury—through July 31st of this year. In contrast, there were 52 in all of 2018 and 41 in 2017. Moreover, St. Paul Police have attributed a 96 percent increase in gun violence on the Green Line, which connects both downtowns.

Torkelson expects to have a package of proposals ready for introduction during the first month of the 2020 legislative session.

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