PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council is calling for SEPTA to take action after several violent and high-profile incidents unfolded on its trains and busses this year.
The meeting was more than three hours long. Now, City Council wants SEPTA to hire more transit officers.READ MORE: Lashawn McNeil Of Allentown Opened Fire On Police In Harlem, Killing Officer Jason Rivera: NYPD
“What they should be doing, I believe, and what I think a lot of people believe, is ensuring that those who use the system are safe,” Councilmember David Oh said. “If they are not safe, they don’t use it.”
City Council held a hearing Monday to address safety concerns surrounding SEPTA.
“I have spoken to so many people who tell me they will not ride the public transportation system,” Oh said.
The meeting was called after a group of Asian students from Central High School was brutally attacked on a SEPTA subway ride in an incident that police called racially motivated.
One of the victim’s mothers spoke through a translator at the hearing.
“The parents worry every second about the safety of their children,” translator Stephanie Sun said.READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Blast Of Frigid Air Makes Region Colder Than Alaska
SEPTA says it’s already making improvements.
“We have already increased our SEPTA police riding the system at dismissal times,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said.
There have been other violent incidents involving SEPTA this year, including the alleged rape of a woman aboard the Market-Frankford line headed westbound toward the 69th Street Transportation Center back on Oct. 13.
There was also a mass shooting outside the Olney Transportation Center in February that hurt at least eight people.
SEPTA budgets to hire 260 officers, but it has only 213 on the force currently due to difficulty in finding eligible candidates.
A SEPTA police union representative says members themselves don’t feel safe.
“This is not a place that most of us are going to recommend to apply to,” Omari Bervine, president of the Fraternal Order of Transit Police Lodge 109, said.MORE NEWS: Man Dead After Car Crashes Into Pole, Catches Fire In Port Richmond: Police
City Council also suggested bumping pay to attract more candidates to the SEPTA police force.