By Bob Barnwell
The HVNA Public Safety Committee heard from a spokesman from the SFMTA (Muni), at the meeting on April 2nd. Sululagi Palega, Muni Transit Assistance Program manager, talked about how to be safe while riding public transit. The biggest crime on Muni is theft of smartphones, tablets and computers. Palega suggests to riders: be aware of your surroundings, put your electronic devices in safe places and be very alert when sitting by the door, as this is one of the most frequent spots on the buses for pick-pocketing. Statistically, the most crimes occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., however riders should be aware of their surroundings at all times while in transit. Palega also recommends sitting near the bus operator when riding transit late at night.
Bus drivers cannot stop to help document a theft or pursue a perpetrator of an alleged crime. However, Muni is implementing measures to make transit safer. 95% of buses now have operating cameras and Muni has their own police, including undercover officers.
To ensure riders are paying their fare, Muni’s division of Proof of Payment (POP) officers drop in on buses throughout the day. In January and February, 2012 there were over 3,200 citations issued for lack of proof of payment. Make sure you pay your fare and ask for a transfer, as citations are $85 to $95.
Muni relies on feedback from the community to improve the quality and safety of service. In addition to asking transit-related questions, calling 311 can be used to report a crime (911 in an emergency), poor bus service, or to ask for an increase in good service. Palega reminds that with over 700,000 boardings each day, ultimately, Muni is a busy system that relies in part, on alert riders to help maintain safety.