The level, types, and impact of crime on Massachusetts public transportation system are described. The largest public carrier in the State is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) which serves 79 cities and towns -- most of which are in the Greater Boston area -- with about 1,500 vehicles daily, including commuter trains, buses, trackless trolleys, and rapid transit cars. A total of 10 regional public transit authorities serve 95 additional cities and towns. Between January and June 1979, the MBTA recorded 5,816 incidents of criminal behavior including both personal and property crimes, and from 1971 to 1978, the MBTA incurred over $4 million in damages due to vandalism of windows, seats, and passenger supports and to graffiti. While MBTA has insisted that the level of crime has risen at an alarming rate, an analysis of statistical tabulations indicates that the system's crime rate is lower than that for Boston proper. Persons between the ages of 17 and 25 from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and neighborhoods are believed to be responsible for a large part of the crime experience in the system. Several groups among elected officials and MBTA personnel argue that the MBTA Police Department should be increased to 200 members and provided with sufficient equipment to allow for modernization. Currently, the department is sparsely equipped with only portable radios and police cars. The average response time of 15 to 20 minutes could be reduced if substations were established, particularly in areas with high crime rates. Transportation authorities in other states appear to have taken greater steps to ensure patron safety by using television surveillance equipment in stations, two-way radio systems in buses, uniformed police as passengers, audio recording, and helicopters. Data tables and footnotes are included.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Massachusetts Legislative Research Council

    Boston, MA  United States  02108
  • Publication Date: 1980

Media Info

  • Pagination: 39 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00454920
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: House No. 5955
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 31 1986 12:00AM