By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Metropolitan Council says safety on the light rail is its top priority. It hopes to expand eyes and ears by using additional resources to handle criminal behavior on LRT trains.

The move comes after recent violent and deadly incidents on both light rail and city buses.

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WCCO’s Reg Chapman has more how they hope to ensure rider and operator safety.

“It gets a little weird late at night, there are a lot of homeless and a lot of drunken people,” Grant Nelson said.

Criminal behavior is keeping some people from using metro transit’s light rail lines.

“There have been tragic incidents on buses and trains but there has been daily behavior and an atmosphere of danger according to many customers that have been writing us,” Charlie Zelle said.

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Newly appointed Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle believes installing cameras with real-time video will allow police to respond as events happen.
Undercover officers will also be added to light rail trains and platforms.

“I think the major thing we need to address is the homelessness issue before we try to add more officers to the trains and surveilling trains because most of the people who ride the train at night don’t have nowhere to go,” light rail rider Ismael Dore said.

The Homeless Action Team is also expanding and so is its use of vouchers to get chronically homeless people who use the LRT as shelter a more permanent place to call home.

“We got to keep adding more answers, we know there isn’t just one, there needs to be a number of solutions,” Zelle said.

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Metro Transit is also looking to the legislature to help decriminalize fare evasion by reducing the penalty to a petty misdemeanor. They believe that would free-up officers to deal with crime.

Reg Chapman