Metro Transit will spend $2.4 million to vastly expand bus patrols and install improved surveillance cameras in all buses.
More police will ride buses and patrol bus stops as officials seek to reassure passengers that the metro area's transit system is safe.
Following two homicides and a third violent attack on buses since early March, Metro Transit announced Thursday that it will spend $2.4 million to increase the hours when police ride buses from 270 to 1,500 per month, as well as buy new digital surveillance cameras for its 240 buses.
A day earlier, a Minneapolis City Council committee recommended directing $500,000 for police overtime for downtown patrols, in part because of concerns about crime from loitering around bus stops on 7th Street.
And Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said this week that 12 deputies will be assigned to downtown from May 20 to Sept. 15.
Nationally, research has shown that intensified policing is the most effective deterrent to violent crime. That's largely the approach that has been followed in Boston and Houston, where passengers were shot and killed on buses this year, department spokesmen said.
"Recent incidents on our buses have understandably prompted concern among our customers," General Manager Brian Lamb said Thursday. "This initiative is designed to boost the confidence of our customers in the safety of their ride."
In the most recent incident, a 17-year-old St. Paul youth has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a 16-year-old on a bus in downtown St. Paul last month.
The routes targeted for increased security are:
Route 5, which operates from Brooklyn Center through north Minneapolis, downtown and south Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington.
Route 16, which connects downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul via University Avenue.
Route 10, the Central Avenue route from downtown Minneapolis to the Northtown Mall in Blaine.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Thursday that the increased presence of police at key downtown bus stops will allow Metro Transit to move more of its officers onto buses.
"We are going to send a much tougher, stronger message," Rybak said. "People who want to intimidate and hassle are going to feel the heat."
Police Chief Tim Dolan said Wednesday, "This is significant for downtown" after the council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee approved an extra $250,000 to strengthen neighborhood safety plans in other trouble spots.
The full council is expected to pass the proposal next week.
"Overall, crime is falling, and we want to maintain that trend into the summer months," Rybak added.
Homicides are rare on buses and commuter trains; only eight were recorded nationally between 2002 and 2006.
Lamb said that overall transit crime decreased 7.5 percent last year and that the trend is continuing this year, but that more spending on security is needed to reassure riders.