When Morgan De Los Reyes moved to Los Angeles nearly a year ago, she and her husband made the decision that she would take the Metro to work, and he would drive their car.
And when Morgan’s mother found out, she bought her daughter pepper spray.
Besides carrying pepper spray, Morgan’s made a few other changes since she started riding the Metro’s Red Line to work from the Pershing Square station to USC, where she works as a scientist.
“I went from being a backpack person to a purse person, because I didn’t like having my backpack with all the zippers, just felt like a bit of an easy target,” she told us.
She also says anytime she’s inside the station, she tried to find a group of people to stand with.
“It’s really not a safe place for women to be.”
Morgan believes precautions like these are necessary because of what she has experienced on the Los Angeles Metro system. Every day, Morgan says she sees homeless people sleeping in and around stations and trains, along with drug use, erratic behavior, crime and filth.
According to the Metro’s Board Report released in late April 2023, the Red and Purple lines saw a 34% increase in total crime compared to the same month last year. “Crimes Against Society” increased by 600% due, in part, to narcotics arrests.
A 2022 survey of over 12,000 Metro passengers showed a drop in female ridership. Safety was the top concern, followed by cleanliness and homelessness.
In March, Metro launched an ambassador program with nearly 300 workers whose job is to provide safety and support to riders. So far, Morgan says she hasn’t seen them do much.
“They’ll wave to you and say, like, ‘have a safe trip,’ that’s kind of all I’ve seen them do,” she told us.
According to the Metro’s most recent crime report, there were three rapes and 39 instances of aggravated assault in February, both significant increases from the year before.
A Metro spokesperson said they are aware of these safety issues and are proactively working on a plan to address them using a combination of resources, including those safety ambassadors, law enforcement and homeless outreach.
The Metro encourages travelers to report any crimes through their Transit Watch App.