Metro Transit votes to spend $3 million on private security
MINNEAPOLIS -- Metro Transit will spend millions on more security at some transit stations.
The Metropolitan Council voted Wednesday afternoon to spend up to $6 million on private security.
This comes after riders and staff reported feeling unsafe at several metro locations across the metro.
The guards would be assigned to six stations, including the one in Uptown Minneapolis. Metro Transit this week announced it's closing the indoor area of that particular station until more security help arrives. That closure starts Thursday.
The other stations that would be given extra security would be Franklin Avenue and Lake Street's light-rail stations, which have already been the sites for pilot programs in bolstered security, along with the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, the Chicago-Lake Transit Center, and Central Station/Vertical Circulation Building.
Metro Transit's Drew Kerr says these stations made up one-quarter of all calls for service in 2022.
"We need a strong official presence on transit -- we've heard that from our staff and we heard that from our customers," Kerr said.
Last fall, Metro Transit saw some success when it launched a pilot program putting uniformed unarmed security officers at two of its trouble spots on the blue line -- Franklin Avenue and Lake Street Midtown.
"Our transit facilities were built to keep you comfortable while waiting. But in many locations, it has become increasingly challenging to keep up with property damage, litter, and other unwanted behaviors," Metro Transit reported, on the temporary closing of the Uptown Transit Station. "Security officers could be in place as early as this spring."
The hope is that the security officers will help deter crime and add another layer of protection for riders and staff.
Allied Universal will provide security for one year at the cost of $3 million. The Met Council will have the option to renew for a second year for another $3 million.
Also, Metro Transit -- in an internal report delivered to bus drivers last week -- reported an increase in overdoses on transit. While there were 16 reported overdoses from the beginning of January through February, so far in March, Metro Transit reported there had already been 15.
Bus drivers were instructed to be aware of people who appear to be asleep but who, in fact, might be in the middle of an overdose.
Metro Transit hopes to have the extra security in place by spring.
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