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The Bus: Is our transit system safe?
by Brian Mercy, staff writer
The Bus is a great asset to commuters here on OĎahu. It provides an efficient means of transportation for those who donít own a vehicle. And for the ones who do, itís a nice alternative, a chance to avoid the hassle and expense of parking or save gas money.

Passengers put their trust in OĎahuís bus system; that they will be provided with safe public transportation. However, buses arenít airplanes; passengers do not need security clearance to board. Anyone could easily carry a gun, knife, bomb, or lethal device onto a bus. With that said, it stands to reason that passengers are not totally safe. We take risks everyday. They are an inevitable part of life. But there are degrees of risk, some higher than others.

What degree of risk is involved with riding the bus? A low one, according to Roger Morton, vice president of OĎahu Transit Services, ďIn terms of vulnerability, youíre safer on the bus than riding in your own car,Ē Mort0n said. ďThereís so little a level of violence, the threat is very low in my opinion. Itís like going into Safeway and getting shot.Ē

According to the 2000 National Transit Database, there was one patron robbed, four cases of theft (one against an employee and three against patrons), 10 cases of vandalism, three sexual offenses, four cases of disorderly conduct, one case of fare evasion, and three ďother assaults.Ē In an emergency, Mortin added, drivers are trained to defuse the situation or phone police if deemed necessary.

ďWe train drivers for security awareness. Also, our central office is piped right in with HPD (Honolulu Police Department). We can usually have an officer on the scene within three minutes,Ē said Mortin. Clearly OĎahuís transit system is prepared for normal, daily threats to passenger security. Probably the people responsible for security in the World Trade Center also foresaw no threat. Sept. 11 was a typical day for them, as it was for those who used the building.

A typical day indeed Ė until the first plane struck. Honolulu is not Israel. Although no terrorist crimes have occurred yet, the possibility still exists. Will it take a repeat of Sept. 11 for us to realize security on TheBus is inadequate? Letís not take the gamble that it wonít happen to us. Letís take precautionary measures to prevent the kind of horrific event that Israel suffers regularly. Letís upgrade security now before itís too late.

A recent article published by the Honolulu Advertiser, about a man who commandeered a city bus and crashed it, makes this article important.


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