Metro workers in L.A. want better safety measures after a bus hijacked

In a shocking turn of events that rattled the Los Angeles public transit system, a Metro bus was hijacked by a 24-year-old individual, wielding what seemed to be a handgun, leading to multiple traffic incidents before crashing into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

This alarming incident, which occurred shortly before midnight on March 21, has prompted urgent calls for improved safety measures from the union representing L.A. Metro bus drivers.

The hijacking, confirmed by Metro officials, was initiated at gunpoint on Line 2, as reported by the Los Angeles Police Department. The ordeal led to the bus driver sustaining injuries from one of the several collisions and required hospitalization in stable condition.

Surveillance footage later revealed the chaos as the bus collided with the facade of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the intersection of West Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street.

Anai Lindsey, the suspect in the harrowing episode, was found to have been carrying a BB gun, deceivingly similar to a real handgun. Lindsey was apprehended following the crash near the Ritz-Carlton, marking a violent end to the distressing sequence of events.

This incident has intensified existing concerns over the safety of public transit operators and passengers alike. In response, the Smart Transportation Division, which advocates for L.A. Metro’s bus drivers, is vehemently demanding enhanced security protocols.

Proposed measures include the installation of full bulletproof enclosures for drivers, deployment of armed security officers, imposition of felony-level charges coupled with substantial jail time for assaults on Metro drivers, and the integration of silent alarms to discreetly notify law enforcement of emergencies or live shooter situations.

James Sandoval, International Vice President of the Smart Transportation Division, expressed a sense of urgency and determination to KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff, stating, “Everything is on the table right now… We need to try every single thing we can to make it safer.” The sentiment underscores the critical need for comprehensive and effective safety strategies in the wake of such incidents.

The union’s stance is that these safety measures should be standardized and federally mandated across all transportation agencies to prevent not only hijackings but also routine disturbances that impact driver and passenger security.

These concerns are echoed by Metro bus riders like Maria Montale, a Loyola Law Student, who recounted instances of arguments and violence necessitating police intervention during her commutes.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority, in response to the growing safety concerns, informed KTLA of its efforts to fortify security. Plans include the addition of more security bus riding teams, the construction of more substantial barriers on all buses, and the provision of de-escalation training for bus operators.

These initiatives aim to create a safer transit environment, addressing the immediate needs highlighted by the union and supporting the broader community’s call for secure and reliable public transportation.

As Los Angeles grapples with the challenges of maintaining public safety amid increasing threats, the demands of the Smart Transportation Division spotlight the urgent need for a collaborative approach to safeguarding the city’s transit system. The recent hijacking serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities facing public transit and the imperative for decisive action to protect those who serve and rely on it every day.

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