Metro Transit adds police officers, security measures as it looks to increase ridership

Green line train Tim Nelson
A rider boards a Green Line light rail train in St. Paul.
Tim Nelson | MPR News File

Metro Transit is making some changes to make riding the light rail and buses safer — an effort to bring riders back in a post-pandemic economy.

Agency officials announced Thursday that they’re adding more staff to help with safety.

"Our communities are facing real challenges of crime, homelessness, untreated mental illness and chemical dependency,” said Wes Kooistra, the general manager of Metro Transit. “The investments we are announcing today represent our latest effort to be a stronger and better transit service to help our riders feel welcome and safe."

The Metro Transit Police Department is adding 10 additional police officers to patrol and respond to serious incidents, hiring 50 new part-time community service officers — there are currently 15 — to validate fares, monitor transit vehicles and respond to needs of customers.

During the last year, Metro Transit police Chief Eddie Frizell said the agency has added high definition, real time cameras to all light rail cars.

The monitoring system is called Real Time Information Center, or RTIC. Eleven staff members will monitor the live feed.

"The RTIC staff can observe our properties and the inside of our cars from a central location,” he said. “This is a data-driven process that allows staff to choose cameras based on the input of our rail and transit control centers, operators, customers and others."

Metro Transit's updated security is expected to cost an additional $4 million a year. Currently, the agency’s police budget is $26 million.

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