DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On a ride along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail system, commuters didn’t list shootings or killings as their top safety concerns for the transit system.
Juvenile delinquency was a common mention; as was lewd conduct, foul language and clear violations of DART’s code of conduct. But not violence.
Some riders, like a woman named Susan who declined to give her last name, believe the transit agency proudly wears the label of indifference when it comes to ensuring passengers ride on a trouble-free bus or train.
“Police presence doesn’t just mean visible uniformed officers. It means things are fairly and firmly taken care of,” she said.
The security for DART routes, stations and vehicles has come under scrutiny after the fourth spurt of violence in three months at DART entity.
On Tuesday, an armed gunman opened fire on a DART police officer. One bystander was killed and another was shot.
Transit officials increased police patrols along rail stations last month after the shooting death of a man at the Downtown Pearl Street station.
Currently, the police presence levels will remain enhanced.
“There is an effort to have officers on as many platforms as possible, on trains, buses. We’re using K-9 units. We have undercover officers riding on buses and trains”, DART spokesman Mark Ball said Wednesday.
But the 200 police officers for the transit system still face a variety of criminal acts.
Last year, DART reported 266 assaults, and 129 robberies. Rider Ron Jackson says the security force for DART may be overmatched because of growing criminal behavior.
“We have a lot of riders and they’re armed. The police do what they can do, but they can only do so much”, Jackson said.
Critics claim the agency lacks the resolve to ensure security personnel is present on trains and rail line stops.
Late Wednesday, DART officials said the Dallas Police Department and the TSA may provide plans to team with DART to improve public transit security.
Currently, 76,000 people ride the light rail line daily. One commuter said, “I never see an officer when I need one, and the bad guys know it”.