MINNEAPOLIS - Reports of an increase in crime at one station on the Hiawatha Light Rail line have prompted a response from Metro Transit. The agency insists that serious crime at the station, such as robberies and assaults, have dropped since 2011.
"Some of the 'quality of life' crimes, such as smoking, drunkenness, fighting, those are up a little bit, but we are addressing those," said Bruce Howard, Metro Transit Director of Customer Service and Marketing.
Howard said there is new high-intensity lighting being installed along with greater maintenance, especially deep cleaning frequency, to improve the consumer experience in the station. There is also a more frequent police presence on the elevated platform. The Metro Transit Police are being supplemented by officers from the Department of Homeland Security.
The Lake Street light rail station is the only one of 19 stops on the line that is positioned on a bridge.
"This is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the region. We have not only the light rail train that has about 10 million riders every year, we also have three or four of the busiest bus routes that connect here," said Howard. "When you put all of that together, you are bound to have a few incidents. The great majority of people that go through this station do so without incident."
A big change at the station is the addition of 24 high definition surveillance cameras. The $100,000 for the cameras was provided by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration. According to Howard, the other improvements will cost the system $40,000 annually. The cameras are monitored by the Rail Control Center near the light rail barns.
Metro Transit officials said they have been working with the Corcoran Neighborhood Group to deal with their concerns about the station.
"We actually had them do a report card and they rated the station about a three out of ten, which was not real good," said Howard. That was a year and a half ago. "Now, we have checked back in after we did some of the improvements and they are giving us a seven."
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