If you’re a regular rider on Metrobus’s X2 line, get ready to see yourself on camera.
D.C. Metro today announced a pilot program to install video monitors on 22 buses along the X2 route, which runs from Minnesota Avenue NE to the White House, passing through H Street NE and Union Station on the way. The goal of the program is to cut down on driver harassment and fare evasion, according to a Metro press release. Two screens will be installed on each of the buses: an 8.4-inch screen above the driver and a 19-inch screen behind his or her seat.
“Every Metrobus is equipped with multiple cameras, and those cameras are capturing activity on the bus—inside and out,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik in a statement. “Our hope is that showing riders what our cameras see will serve as a deterrent against crime, including assaults and fare evasion.” Transit agencies in Los Angeles and Boston have already begun using video screens as deterrents to dangerous behavior.
The X2 route is one of the busiest bus routes in D.C. (with an average weekday ridership of 12,180 trips) as well as one of the most dangerous for drivers: four X2 operators have been assaulted in 2015 alone. Two men were shot on a crowded X2 bus in January after having a verbal argument. Cameras on the bus filmed that incident.
In D.C., assaults on bus drivers jumped roughly 37 percent last year, according to a Federal Transit Administration report. The same report found that the growing number of assaults was Metrobus’s number one safety concern, leading to lower productivity and morale among drivers.
“Metrobus operator assaults not only put our employees at risk, but also impact the safety of everyone else onboard the bus,” said Metro Interim General Manager and CEO Jack Requa.
The pilot program will cost about $81,000 and will be reviewed over the next several months.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery