PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Despite a recent sexual assault and other attacks, SEPTA leaders say there is not a “runaway train of violence” on their system. However, a Philadelphia City Councilmember is proposing to withhold millions in funding until changes are made after a number of attacks.
The bill has not yet been introduced to City Council, however, it has sparked a debate on what’s needed to make SEPTA safer.READ MORE: Philadelphia School District Students, Staff To Resume Masking As COVID Cases Continue To Rise In City
Whether you’re on the Broad Street Line or the Regional Rail, some say an onslaught of recent incidents has put safety on SEPTA back in the spotlight.
“We’ve always been honest and open about the challenges that we have,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said.
On Wednesday, officials announced the arrest of Quintez Adams. The 28-year-old was wanted for a sexual assault on a SEPTA train Sunday.
The incident was one of three over the weekend, including a stabbing at Suburban Station and a stabbing and robbery at 34th Street.
“All of the incidents that just happened over the last week are being investigated, arrests have been made,” Richards said.
But for some, words of assurance aren’t cutting it.
“Passengers should not get down into the platform and worry if they’re going to be shot, stabbed or assaulted,” Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh said.READ MORE: West Philly Double Shooting Leaves 30-Year-Old Man Dead, Teen Hospitalized: Police
Oh is proposing holding $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 have spent the money they need to spend to increase the salaries of transit police,” Oh said.
Currently, SEPTA is down about 50 transit police officers and has cited a lack of interest from the public for the vacancies.
Oh says raising salaries for officers is as easy as getting on and off a rail car.
“I think it’s important for SEPTA to commit to protecting the public,” Oh said.
SEPTA says it is fully committed to hiring more police officers and says overall, crime on the transit system is down.
“I think there is a direct correlation as our ridership continues to increase crime will continue to go down,” Richards said.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating Series Of Gunpoint Robberies In Center City, West Philadelphia
SEPTA’s transit police union responded to the proposal by saying this was the only way to force SEPTA to take action.