Crime Near Light-Rail Stations

Crime Near Light-Rail Stations
Randal O’Toole The Antiplanner

According to the mayor of Gresham, Oregon, 40 percent of robberies and drug crimes “” as well as 80 percent of gang-related police calls “” in his city take place within a quarter mile of a light-rail station. He made this statement in an interview with conservative talk-radio host Lars Larson.

Vandalism and burgleries are also a problem, according to this article in the Oregonian.

The mayor didn’t say anything about violent crime, such as the recent beating of a 71-year-old man by a 15-year-old boy with a baseball bat. TriMet blames the problems on the neighborhood, not light rail. “The transit system reflects the community it travels through,” said a transit agency spokesperson. “They have a lot of poverty, unemployment and gang issues, and occasionally that will come onto the train system.” Of course, the reason why that neighborhood has poverty is that the region’s planning-induced housing shortage has gentrified Portland’s low-income neighborhoods and pushed the poor into subsidized transit-oriented developments.

In addition, the Gresham police say that many criminals are”commuting in from other areas” on the light rail. As the Gresham Outlook says, a “contributor to crime in Gresham is the MAX light rail.”

Gresham is about 22.2 square miles and there are seven light-rail stations in the city, so the land within a quarter-mile of those stations covers about 6 percent of the city. So is the fact that some kinds of crime are seven times more likely to take place near light-rail station than in the rest of the city indicate that light-rail brought those crimes into the city? I am sure some people will say it does not, but it sounds pretty conclusive to me.

TriMet’s solution is to install more cameras. Since TriMet has too few security guards monitoring its trains, the city of Gresham is going to have its own police officers patrol the trains. Thus, taxpayers have to pay one more time to keep the light rail rolling.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 at 12:00 am and is filed under Transportation, Follow up. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Posted by at 01:46 | Posted in Measure 37 | 32 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post

    The MAX is a magnet for criminals………..check out other news media, almost no one has not seen a crime or been a victim of these criminals while riding.

    First, if we’d like to cut down on the criminals we need to not allow the “honor system” tickets purchasing idea to continue.

    Second, remove all individuals who are in the country illegally from this city and that will cut an enormous amount of the MAX crime down, especially in Gresham and Hillboro. It not the complete solution but it’s the best first step to take.

    I’d rather shut the MAX down on go to a busing system personally, since everyone getting would have to pay to ride.

    Regardless, the Tri-Met officials are obviously over their heads and should be replaced!

    • Captain_Anon

      i agree with some of what you said. the max isn’t the cause of the crime. the poverty and individuals who live on the east side are. west side doesn’t have the problems the east side does. nor does teh interstate route. its mostly gang affiliated youth. rockwood and the immediate area are packed with the poorest in the metro area. many of them illegal immigrants (you’re right). i also agree trimet needs to do away with the honor system and fix it so everyone pays/has a ticket.

      • CRAWDUDE

        I’m going to speculate on something, I’m not saying it’s true. I’m just wondering if the areas with less crime might also have a higher number of these alleged Wackybush security officers and tri-met fare officials patrolling. If I ever get bored enough maybe I’ll take a ride through the whole line and see if there is a larger presence in the wealthier districts.

        No matter what they need to get the tickets sales under control and most major cities do have police that patrol the stops on a regular basis. At least Boston, St. Louis, Chicago and New York do, I’ve ridden on those lines.

  • Neal

    All it takes to defend Light Rail and it’s effects is more propoganda like this from an earlier thread

    >>> So I don’t agree that billions are “wasted” on light rail, TODs and so forth. That is investment needed to create neighborhoods where people can get around without a car, or at the least make shorter car trips.
    #41.1 dean on 2007-11-02 13:10 (Reply) <<< dean is oblivious to the many not-so-pretty realities about our light rail system. But more over he is delusional in his wrongheaded faith in the upside. As if light rail and transit oriented development creates the neighborhoods he imagines. dean would have people believe the billions spent has produced an beneficial outcome exceeding the cost and lack of attention to traditional infrastructure such as road capacity and maintenance. He is beyond foolish. The "smart growth", "New Urbanism" he parrots fails miserably to qualify as a subsitute for genuine accomodating of growth. Despite the "alternative" modes rhetoric and fantasies about creating carless communitites. In reality after Billions spent on rail transit and subsidizing development we are left with neither any measurable reduction in automobile use or fullfilling the basic needs of growth,,, having spent all the money that was needed to do so. And of course we also have this crime and blight along the 25 year old Eastside MAX line that dean and company still propoagandize as "creating" livable neighborhoods. As he and other Metro/TriMet advocates hype future lines such as the Milwaukie light rail they remain committed to repeating the waste and insanity MAX and TODs are.

  • John Fairplay

    Well, at least criminals can now get around without a car, or take shorter car trips to their victims.

    Will we ever stop paying for the terrible decision to put light rail in Portland? Increased crime, dead pedestrians, dead bicyclists, ugly neighborhoods, cages masquerading as homes. The planners hit a left-wing home run on this one.

    • Captain_Anon

      criminals take cars, ride bikes, take the bus and run away from the crime scene too. its not only max that helps with getaways. let’s be honest in the debate.

  • devietro

    Max is a magnet for crime and shady characters. It really is that simple. As a security officer I see the number of our contracts are related to proximity to Max stations. (Transit malls are even worse) It is my belief that the reasons business owners are less pro-tri-met than they use to be is because of the crime issue. Frankly Pioneer Square would be nice place if it was not on the bus mall and the hub for light rail.

    Assuming that MAX is not going away I urge anyone who rides MAX on a regular basis to get a concealed Handgun license and carry concealed any time you ride. Violent crime is here to stay but you dont have to be a victim.


      Thanks for mentioning Pioneer Square, that has gone from a nice area to almost a slum. Pan handlers, street gangs, tweakers etc… hanging out between 3rd and 6th harassing people, sleeping and urinating against walls…it’s bad.

      Pioneer Place has about 2/3rds of the store it used to and almost no business. I usually go down there 1 time of month at least and unless it’s just coincidence I see all this everytime.

  • Jerry

    You couldn’t pay me to ride MAX – there should be law enforcement on every train, but there is none anywhere along the routes – which is why it is a magnet for criminals.
    How important is it to ride around on some silly train for a couple bucks if you never get to your final destination without being robbed or hit with a baseball bat??
    All these lib wack jobs who so love light rail NEVER actually ride the thing. If they did they would know first hand what a complete, unmitigated disaster light rail has been for Portland and surrounding communities.
    The only people who support light rail are dreamers…oh, I forgot, we love dreamers, don’t we??
    And how much was that slogan again???


      Keep Portland mugged?

  • Gienie

    BLAST!!!! I was going to send my kicker check back this year in hopes it would go towards funding light rail 🙁

    What am I supposed to do now?

    • Crawdude

      Send it to me 🙂

  • Neal

    “Keep Portland Stupid” is more accurate.

    Too many Portlanders think the only place the truth can be found is on Air America and Keith Olberman.

  • JAC

    Sadly, it’s too little to late for my small business along the new Clackmas Max line. I’ve had a significant increase of criminal activity towards and around my office (located by a new park and ride) following the start of Max construction. My clients have expressed very serious concern about my location by Max. And with changes in the traffic flow and potentially facing even more crime when Max finally arrives, I’m seriously looking to move away from north Clackamas to Vancouver, WA. I also know other businesses have had negative impacts from the Clackamas Max line construction. Our stories and cases probably won’t make news, that is unless we are unfortunate victims of a violent incident.


    • Captain_Anon

      how can you attibute the significant increase in crime near your business on a light rail line that is a year from completion? it sounds like crime is ALREADY in your area and affecting you. It has nothing to do with light rail.

      • CRAWDUDE

        There is a post on the Portland Tribune that is exactly word for word the same Capt. I think JAC this person is just trying to illicit a few responses for kicks.

  • Tom

    Well, we absolutely need to do what it takes to make our communities safer but it looks to me like Randle O’Toole is spreading fear again to support is ideological crusade against light rail.

    It is hardly the case that Light rail is less the safe than driving.
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that highway deaths numbered 43,443 in 2005, up 1.4 percent from 42,836 in 2004.
    in 2000, motor vehicle-related medical costs exceeded $21 billion, accounting for almost 20 percent of all medical costs attributed to injuries. And if driving was not deadly enough we also have the growing phenomena of gun-wielding road rage:

    The reality is that a safer community is not going to be delivered from our changing our transportation investments.

    Solutions are certainly not going to come from trying to capitalize on community fear of crime violence to advance one’s transportation agenda as O’Toole appears to be doing here.


  • Neal

    Are you nuts? No really are YOU nuts?
    Otoole isn’t about spreading fear or “one man’s agenda”.
    It’s about the real world facts of what light rail does and what it doesn’t do. And the transportation gridlock and urban chaos it spawns with it’s new urbanism partner.
    I can’t imagine how you could possibly be so friggin stupid as to compare raw numbers of deaths to determine safety. Of course our roads kill more people than light rail.
    That’s because 99% of trips are made on roads. But looking at per trip deaths light rail is less safe.
    But that’s now the biggest loser about light rail. The whole approach is a deliberate overcrowding of our communitites under the pretense that somehow it all eventually will morph into something better than what we are seeing now. It aint.
    But the excuses continue as Sam Adams et all lean on nonsense like an imminent decline in automobile use leaving people dependent on rail transit to get their food and avoid starving.

  • Joseph

    Oh I’m so scared to ride light-rail now! I need to carry a concealed weapon and I need security guards all around me to feel safe again!

    Do you people hear yourselves? This argument is so absurd that I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been riding MAX since ’86 and I’ve had more problems minding my own business in a park and walking along a sidewalk downtown than I ever have anywhere along the rail line.

    99% of all crime occurs within a quarter mile of a paved roadway. Cars must be the problem! What are we ever going to do? Security guards for every car? Police on every street corner where cars drive by?


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