Portland, Oregon public transportation operator TriMet is currently considering a measure which would increase the agency's ability to ban passengers who have committed acts of violence while riding public transportation.
TriMet is considering taking these new measures in the wake of the double homicide which occurred in late May of 2017 and another repeat offender who routinely harrasses women on public transit. Jared Walter, a the repeat offender, is known as the “TriMet barber,” and has been “arrested repeatedly since 2009 after authorities said he cutting women's hair on buses and other behavior.” This July, Walter was seen again cutting a woman's hair, which brings up questions about how maintain a safe environment on the TriMet systems without excluding passengers who need access to transportation services.
TriMet, or the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, operates public transportation in the city of Portland, Oregon, the greater metropolitan area, and large portions of the state of Oregon. It maintains and manages the bus system, light rail, and commuter rail transit services. Previously TriMet has limited their ability to ban passengers from their services for more than 6 months. This previous standard was “based on the philosophy that people shouldn't be denied access to public transportation.” However, in the wake of recent developments, they are reconsidering the policy.
TriMet is now proposing a new policy in which first-time offenders would still be banned from using services for 6 months. Second offenses and more serious aggressive crimes would be punishable with up to a year long ban. Finally, under certain circumstances, the policy would give “general manager discretion to issue a longer exclusion after a single offense if the rider poses a ‘serious threat' to others.”
A serious threat in this instance would be a threat or possibility of perpetrating sexual assault, assault with a weapon, or an attack which might result in serious injury or death. If the general manager believes that an individual poses a threat to other passengers riding public transit, they may be granted the ability to ban these individuals on a long term basis.
However, the passenger in question who might pose a threat has a ten day grace period in which to appeal the decision of the general manager. TriMet hopes that this would prevent management from exploiting this new process of banning passengers. In addition, passengers with long term bans would be permitted to appeal the ban every twelve months following its initial instigation.
TriMet reports that crime rates on its public transit systems have dropped over the past few years, although crime against TriMet employees in particular rose in 2015. TriMet has increased security on their systems through contracts with security companies and more police presence.