U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., is a fine public servant and represents a party and philosophy I support at the ballot box. Hopefully, that can continue.
Her commentary, however, is troubling for me and my wife (“All that goes into making LRT safe,” Nov. 10).
Retired in 2015, we are elderly migrants from Rochester to Minneapolis, attracted by the prospect of living in a vibrant and progressive community. We have been warmly welcomed by long-established Twin Cities residents, several of whom have become close friends.
Sadly, we do not feel safe when we venture out to explore and enjoy what it this great city has to offer. Most notable is what has become a toxic and unsafe public transportation system, especially the light-rail system.
We have yet to travel on that system without witnessing egregious anti-social behavior of one kind or another.
On a recent evening trip on the Green Line from St. Paul to Minneapolis, my wife and I were returning from a theater production when a 20-something male joined us in an otherwise empty carriage. He elected to seat himself across from us, face to face, and soon informed me he didn’t like how I looked. What followed was a six- or seven-stop ride during which he shared what his plans were for me and my wife. None were encouraging.
I remained silent, knowing that there was nothing I could say to improve the situation. I knew that attempts to reach my phone could further inflame his anger. We sat and endured, feeling it safer to stay put rather than to get off the train, as he might follow us. The torture ended on his terms when he finally disembarked, telling us we were lucky he had to go.
We saw him wait on the platform; no doubt prepared to repeat the performance for other unsuspecting travelers.
This was not a one-off on the light rail. We have had to change carriages to avoid fights, endured long delays while police were called to quell disruptions and been forced to flee U.S. Bank Stadium in the early morning to avoid assaults in progress.
We no longer travel on the system, or indeed venture downtown to the theater district, where we have been intimidated and threatened. We are at a point of questioning our decision to spend our retirement years here. After all, if you can’t feel safe ... ?
Rep. McCollum correctly reminds us of unmet social needs and inadequate support for the less fortunate among us. I suggest, however, that those needs cannot be met by turning the extraordinarily expensive light rail system into an unsafe mobile homeless shelter, or a place where feral youth are free to vent vindictiveness toward the citizenry.
If we must wait until the drug problem and related social ills are resolved, then I fear the fare-paying passenger population will dwindle.
Rep McCollum, et al.: Please let us know when it is again safe for us to travel around town. There are solutions but they require insight and political will. I hope you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle are up to the challenge. Time will tell.
Michael D. Brennan lives in Minneapolis.