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Safetys just one of many issues

Having been born and raised in Portland, and having used TriMet most of my life, I find it rather odd that this heated issue of security on TriMet just now is coming to the fore. Safety issues on the transportation system have been around for quite some time.

I wrote a letter to TriMet in 1991 regarding safety concerns. Although I addressed issues regarding one bus line, the issues in my letter are the same that are of concern today.

Unfortunately, I see no easy solution. Making Fareless Square no longer fareless during certain hours is laughable, since the people who usually cause the trouble don't bother paying the fare anyway.

Placing more security on the trains may help temporarily, but they cannot be everywhere at once.

Sadly, safety on the trains is not the only issue. I have seen violence break out on buses and have been verbally assaulted and physically threatened, while both waiting for and riding the bus, by people obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or mentally ill.

The transportation security issue is a piece of larger issues such as homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and the lack of resources for the mentally ill. One might say that this issue is a small mirror reflecting larger societal problems.

Increasing security on the trains and buses will provide a temporary Band-Aid to the problem. It also will give those fortunate enough to be riding a train or bus that has security on board a temporary feeling of being safe.

However, until we as a society can solve the root cause of the problems, riding the bus or train always will be a somewhat risky proposition.

Cindy Mayfield

Southeast Portland

Free zone seems to have the least crime

Your recent story 'TriMet rethinks Fareless Square' (Nov. 30) needed some rethinking before it went to press.

The story led me to believe I was going to read about a crime wave sweeping the downtown or fareless part of the MAX line.

Instead, most of the article describes crime occurring at the outer edges of the line: Gresham and Hillsboro.

In fact, a quick glance at the many available crime reports for the MAX reveals that the downtown MAX line experiences the least amount of crime.

The reports clearly show that Gresham and Hillsboro stations report the most occurrences of crime on the line, with Delta Park pulling in third.

So why even consider Fareless Square part of the problem?

Many tourists and residents love the fact that Portland provides free transportation along the downtown business and retail core.

It would be a shame to punish everyone for the actions of a small group.

Want to fix crime on the MAX? A uniformed officer riding 24/7 would do wonders. This is expensive, but so is all the 'administrative leave' officers receive.

Turnstiles can be jumped over, and so need to be monitored. Let's not forget that we are talking about a very small group of people taking advantage of a historically unpatrolled, unpoliced area.

A show of authority and a message of 'this is no longer your crime playground' would be expensive in the short term, but would yield a long-term payoff in increased ridership and safety.

For many people visiting our beloved City of Roses, the MAX from the airport is their first impression. It would be unfortunate for it to be a negative one because of a few bad apples.

Stephen LeBoutillier

North Portland