The Westlake/MacArthur Park station of the Los Angeles Metro now plays classical music through the station’s public speakers as part of an initiative to reduce crime and boost ridership.
“The music is appropriate for spending maybe five to ten minutes in the station and catching your train,” said David Sotero, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The transit agency is working to reverse a precipitous drop in ridership caused by people’s growing concern for their personal safety in the face of rising crime rates. For the most serious violent crimes, such as assault, murder, rape, and robbery, Metro reports a 24% increase since 2021.
Twenty-one people lost their lives in 2022 due to transportation-related causes. In the first three months of 2023, there were 21 fatalities on Metro buses and trains.
It’s been an issue, Sotero said. “The city is really crowded. To better the situation at this station, we are adopting a novel, rethought strategy and using some novel, if untested, measures.”
In this context, classical music is very useful. Metro will test out unarmed security guards known as Metro Ambassadors at the Westlake/MacArthur station as part of a pilot program; these guards will have the ability to call the police in an emergency.
Moreover, Metro has installed additional illumination and security cameras and has restricted access to only the major turnstiles.
Bikers have reported noticing a change, but some are still skeptical.
“You have a more tranquil and pleasant trip, which for us is preferable,” remarked rider Alex Tittle. “It’s far worse for the [homeless]. Their dilemma can’t be fixed at this time.”
Metro reported a 20% decrease in crime and a 50% decrease in reports of vandalism, graffiti, and cleanliness as evidence that the pilot programs were successful.
During the fall, the agency will take another look at this program to determine its merits and weaknesses before rolling it out to additional stations.