Metro to test use of video screens showing surveillance cameras to enhance bus safety, security on X2 Buses



“As part of its ongoing effort to enhance the safety and security of bus operators and passengers, Metro plans to test the use of video monitors on board buses as a deterrent to prevent fare evasion and bus operator assaults. The move is part of a multi-layered response that also includes enhanced fare enforcement by plain clothes and uniformed Transit Police officers, outreach campaigns — including targeted outreach in public schools, the installation of plexiglass dividers to protect bus operators, and enhanced penalties for those found guilty of assault.

Video monitors will be installed on 22 articulated (60-foot) Metrobuses as part of the pilot program. The monitors will allow passengers to see exactly what the security cameras are recording in real time. One 8.4-inch screen will be installed above the bus operator so that riders can see themselves as they board, and one 19-inch screen will be mounted behind the driver facing the passenger cabin with a four-camera display of the bus interior.

“Metrobus operator assaults not only put our employees at risk, but also impact the safety of everyone else onboard the bus,” said Metro Interim General Manager and CEO Jack Requa. “Through this effort, we want to remind riders that all activity aboard our buses is captured by the cameras and see whether the presence of the new video monitors has an additional deterrent effect.”

The 22 selected buses are all assigned to the X2 route, which runs along H Street from Benning Road to Gallery Place and Lafayette Square. The route is among the system’s busiest with an average weekday ridership of 12,180 trips.

Four X2 bus operators have been assaulted in 2015, which is more incidents than any other route.

“Every Metrobus is equipped with multiple cameras, and those cameras are capturing activity on the bus — inside and out,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik. “Our hope is that showing riders what our cameras see will serve as a deterrent against crime, including assaults and fare evasion.”

Several other transit agencies have deployed buses with video monitors that show passengers the camera footage, including Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

The increased presence of law enforcement officers, combined with the video display pilot program and increased availability of bus safety shields as new buses enter service, will strengthen Metro’s ongoing efforts to enhance Metrobus safety.

Metro Transit Police have increased the number of officers on Metrobus routes in an effort to reduce operator assaults and cut down on fare evasion — the number one cause of disputes. In addition, over the last two years, Metro has been educating many young riders about safety on Metrobus through its “Respect Your Ride” safety outreach campaign. The Respect Your Ride initiative provides in-system and external communications for youth riders and other vested stakeholders in support of reducing incidents of violence and injuries on Metrobus.

The cost of the pilot is approximately $81,000, and Metro will evaluate the effectiveness of the security displays over several months before making a decision on a possible fleet-wide rollout.”

9 Comment

  • justinbc

    LOL. As if those people care…? They already know Metro buses are recorded, putting it on a monitor won’t do jack.

  • I’m surprised this hasn’t happened earlier. Buses in the Transport for London (TfL) system have had plexiglass barriers to shield the operators for maybe 10 years or more, and they have multiple video cameras and screens showing what the cameras see.
    Of course WMATA isn’t using TfL as any kind of model, because if they were, we wouldn’t have ended up with those idiotic bus-stop displays that show buses arriving in 40-60 minutes, not just the ones whose information you’d actually need/use (i.e., those arriving in the next ~20 minutes and/or the next bus from all routes that include that bus stop.)

    • Not to mention the signs are usually facing the street where I could see them perfectly while driving by in my car. Seems it would be a bit annoying if sitting at the stop to have to stand up and turn around to see when my bus is scheduled to arrive.

  • On my one time aboard an X2 I witnessed blatant fare evasion pretty and intimidating behavior. It was about 11pm on a Friday night. Four guys boarded the bus after me and stared down the driver as they passed her, basically daring her to say something. She didn’t, and who could blame her? (and no, neither I nor the one other passenger on board were about to say anything either)

    • She should have called the police to meet her at the next few stops. They can try the stare down on an armed officer, with backup.

  • DC1

    How about they use this to actually show the bus drivers that run red rights and just plain drive recklessly? I guess the drivers union keeps winning that battle when it comes to punish it’s drivers.

    • I’d be for that, but only if they were also used to ticket people driving cars who cut off the bus, pass illegally, park in bus stops, etc.

      but given the insanse response to installing cameras on SCHOOL buses to ticket people who illegally pass a school bus in a neighboring county, I don’t have hope.

  • So the answer to this problem is to bling
    Out the buses with more screens?

    Why doesn’t transit police detail 5 of their officers to just riding the x2 back and forth all day randomly. The only time I ever see transit pd is when 5 of them are hanging out, shooting the breeze outside the Cleveland park metro stop (Monday evening) which doesn’t seem like a very targeted use of their enormous resources.

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