San Francisco's Muni making tracks in fight against crime 

While Muni passengers may still have to contend with open train doors and operators who text while driving, at least the riding public can rest easy knowing they’re less likely to get mugged or assaulted on the transit system.

Crime incidents on transit vehicles were down 26 percent through the third week of March, with police districts recording drops of up to 57 percent, according to new data from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni.

A total of 237 incident reports — including robberies, thefts and assaults — have been recorded through March 25. That is 82 fewer than the 319 incidents reported through the same time period last year.

The biggest decreases have come on transit lines that travel through the Taraval and Central police districts.

The drop in crime is attributable to a number of factors, said Lt. Ed Del Carlo, who works with Muni to oversee the agency’s crime reduction programs. The police department has better data on crime trends, so they can focus their resources more specifically on high-crime transit lines, Del Carlo said.

He also said the department has been using seven undercover cops — paid for with government grant funding — to root out criminal acts, a development that has been essential in deterring crimes such as pickpocketing and robbery.

Reginald Mason, Muni’s chief security officer, said the agency has been sending its transit fare inspectors out on all lines — previously they focused on the downtown subway — and the uniformed presence has helped deter crime.

Muni passengers expressed mixed reactions to reports that crime on the transit system is down.

Will Essien, a San Francisco resident who rides several Muni lines including the 5-Fulton bus, said the agency has done a better job of controlling large youth groups who are frequently disruptive on the line. Overall, he said he’s felt a bit safer travelling on Muni in recent months.

Robert Terranova, who travels on the 38-Geary, was a bit more skeptical. He said he still witnesses acts of graffiti on the bus, as well as seeing petty criminals play the shell game, a con trick that dupes unknowing victims out of money.

“The crime is still there,” said Terranova. “Riding on the bus can still be a pretty dicey experience.”

Note: Click image for information on crime trends on Muni.

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Will Reisman

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