PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Despite a recent sexual assault and other attacks, SEPTA leaders say there is no “running train of violence” running through their system. However, a Philadelphia City Council member is proposing to withhold millions in funding until changes are made after a number of attacks.
The bill has not yet been presented to city council, however, it has sparked a debate about what is needed to make SEPTA safer.
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Whether you’re on the Broad Street Line or the Regional Rail, some say a flurry of recent incidents have put safety on SEPTA back in the spotlight.
“We’ve always been honest and open about the challenges we have,” said SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards.
On Wednesday, officials announced the arrest of Quintez Adams. The 28-year-old was wanted for a sexual assault on a SEPTA train on Sunday.
The incident was one of three that occurred over the weekend, including a stabbing at the commuter train station and a stabbing and robbery at 34th Street.
“All incidents over the past week are being investigated, arrests have been made,” Richards said.
But for some, the words of assurance are not enough.
“Passengers shouldn’t get off the platform and worry about being shot, stabbed or assaulted,” Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh said.
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Oh is offering to withhold $10 million from SEPTA’s $100 million budget if changes aren’t made to make riders feel safer.
“We give them that money once they’ve spent the money they need to raise the salaries of the transport police,” Oh said.
Currently, SEPTA has lost about 50 transit police officers and cited a lack of public interest in vacancies.
Oh says raising officer salaries is as easy as getting on and off a train car.
“I think it’s important that SEPTA is committed to protecting the public,” Oh said.
SEPTA says it is fully committed to hiring more police officers and says that overall crime in the transit system is down.
“I think there’s a direct correlation as our traffic continues to go up, crime will continue to go down,” Richards said.
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The SEPTA transit police union responded to the proposal saying it was the only way to force SEPTA to act.