MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than 30,000 people ride the light rail every day. The relatively new way to get around has surpassed expectations, but serious crimes are happening on trains and platforms across the Twin Cities.
We looked into which stops are most dangerous.
It’s a walk Briana took countless times before, three blocks to catch the 5 a.m. train at the 46th Street station.
Briana doesn’t want us to use her last name because her attacker has never been caught.
“It was about 4:55 in the morning,” she recalled. “It’s changed my whole life and routine.”
But Briana hasn’t been back after what happened there six months ago.
“He just kept running toward me and began to attack me,” she said.
On the sidewalk, under a street light, just steps away from her stop, a man robbed and beat Briana.
“I said, ‘Just take my stuff, please leave me alone,'” Briana said. “That’s when I got up and felt my face, and I saw all the blood, and I realized this is more serious than I thought it was.”
She got five stitches for cuts to her face and ears from sharp rings her attacker wore that morning.
“Originally I thought he was trying to kill me because he wouldn’t stop,” she said.
After Briana’s attack, we wondered about the safety of light-rail trains and the areas that surround the stations. We waited for months to see Metro Transit’s data after the police agency told us it didn’t keep the crime reports in a centralized, searchable system.
When we did get the data, we found police calls for fights, weapons and much more serious crimes.
The largest numbers were along the Blue Line in Minneapolis:
At the Lake Street/Midtown station, 858 incidents were reported to police in a six-month period. Nearly half were citations to people not paying their fares.
In December, a man was stabbed to death on that platform. There were also 18 assaults, 11 robberies and 31 disorderly conduct calls.
At the Mall of America station, Metro Transit Police recorded 747 incidents in six months, 45 disorderly conduct cases, 22 thefts and five weapons calls.
The Franklin Avenue station had the third highest number of 711.
At the Downtown East Station, by the Vikings new home, 564 incidents were reported.
Along the year-old Green Line in St. Paul, we found the highest number of calls at the Central and Snelling Avenue stops, with Central recording 481 and Snelling 478.
Since taking over three years ago, Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington said he’s made it a mission for the department to get better at data-driven policing.
“When I got to the department, one of the first things I did was realize that we didn’t have a crime-reporting system,” Harrington said.
A new system now tracks where and what crimes police can help prevent.
By the numbers, Harrington says more crime is reported on buses than the light-rail line. The busiest transit stations see the most trouble.
“The light-rail system is very safe, and it’s only getting safer,” Harrington said.
Metro Transit has added dozens of new officers this year to patrol the new stations in St. Paul.
Ten cameras also roll on trains. At least that many record activity at the busiest platforms along the line.
“I thought there would be cameras all over here,” Briana said.
In Briana’s case, cameras didn’t reach far enough to capture her attack.
Hers is one of nearly 350 incidents at the 46th Street station in six months. She’d like to see more police on patrols.
“When I would come out here, it almost feels like your fending for yourself,” Briana said.
Briana told us she’s close to being ready to board again, even without an arrest, determined not to let her attacker scare her away.
Metro Transit Police want light-rail riders to say something if they see something suspicious. There are call boxes on each platform to reach police right away.
To check out a breakdown of the crimes happening on each light rail stop, look at our interactive map.