Lawmakers respond to FOX 9 for light rail investigation

A Republican state lawmaker says he will consider a package of reforms to enhance security on Metro Transit, after a FOX 9 Investigators revealed an uptick in violent assaults, thefts, and robberies.

State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), who is a leader on the House Transportation Committee, said in a statement, “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.”

The FOX 9 Investigators revealed that aggravated assaults on the light rail system, those involving a weapon or causing serious injury, numbered 59 through July 31 of this year.  That is more than the 52 aggravated assaults in all of 2018, and 41 aggravated assaults in 2017.

Robberies and thefts are also on the rise with 384 incidents through October 28 of this year.  That’s more than the 330 incidents in all of 2018 and 374 incidents in 2017.  

A Metro Transit light rail rides by the Capitol in St. Paul.

“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,” said Torkelson.

Rep. Torkelson, who is a leader on the House Transportation and Finance Division, said during the next legislative session lawmakers will consider the following reforms:

  • Examining the cost vs. benefit of installing barriers or turnstiles on light rail station platforms.
  • Directing Metro Transit and the Met Council to prioritize an increase in the number of sworn police officers and increase law enforcements visible presence on light rail trains and platforms.
  • Making it a crime to loiter on a light rail platform without paying for a ticket.
  • Increasing the number of fair inspectors.

Torkelson expects to have a package of reforms to introduce during the first month of the 2020 legislative session which begins February 11, 2020.