SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Transformation is continuing within Sacramento’s Regional Transit system.
Soon, RT will start cracking down on loiterers in hopes of cleaning up crime by requiring all people within a certain section of the station to have train tickets. A pilot program that went in place in 2015 tested out the policy at six light-rail stations, and officials say those stations are cleaner, safer and more convenient for riders.
The days of hanging around a light rail station for anything other than to board a train will soon be over. In the next few months, RT will turn all of its light rail stations into “Paid Fare Zones.”
“It’s our method to virtually try to close the station since we have an open system,” said Sacramento Police Capt. Norm Leong who runs RT police services,” and we think that will help add to the not only the perception of safety but to prevent people from loitering and being on the system that don’t belong there.”
The zones will be marked with signage and red paint on the cement. Anyone who crosses the red line will be expected to have a ticket or to board a train within two train cycles. If not, they will be asked to leave, If they refuse to leave, they face a citation.
“RT has already tested out this change here at the 16th Street station. You see this red line here well once you cross it if you don’t,” he said.
RT Rider Ophelia Ignacio says, “I think it’s a great idea because there’s too many people who are loitering, doing nothing, smoking. It’s a good thing.”
Six stations have already been transformed. It will cost about $14,000 to complete the rest.
RT Rider William Sin says, “It makes me ecstatic to hear that. There’s sometimes people that make me feel unsafe being here and it’s not cool.”
RT recently invested $6 million in train and security upgrades, including top of the line cameras that are monitored nearly 24-7 in a real-time crime center.
“When we do have crimes occur, we’re having about a 65 percent arrest rate,” said Cpt. Leong.
That’s 27 percent more arrests than last year, but the crime itself has also gone up slightly. So far this year, there have been 26 thefts and 11 assaults. That’s up from 20 thefts and 10 assaults during the same time period last year. Still, Captain Leong says RT is making positive changes.
“We feel that the system’s safe, but we’re always striving to make it better.”
The really difficult part is changing public perception about RT, which isn’t so great.