Garland council member: DART should spend on security, not signs

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 24, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 25 at 12:10 AM

GARLAND — In a 76-day period, there were three homicides at DART light rail stations.

Rider safety concerns after those incidents prompted the transit agency to beef up its security presence on trains. But one Garland City Council member said DART needs to do more.

DART will spend $6 million to install new digital signs at its stations by the end of the year.

"What it's going to do is tell customers when the next train is arriving, the number of cars, how long it's going to be before the next train is going to get there," said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. "That's something customers have told us they've wanted for some time."

Garland City Council Member Larry Jeffus said he understands the need for better signage. But he said with all the recent criminal activity at DART facilities, the transit system needs more security — not new signs.

"I realize signs help people get around," Jeffus said. "But if we had more DART officers and DART personnel at the stations, they could advise citizens on issues that might come up."

Earlier this week, DART announced it would add 140 uniformed police officers, fare enforcement officers, and armed security guards on its 42 trains. Among those officers, 20 new contracted security guards that will cost $41,000 a month.

"I'm concerned that they're temporary, not DART employees," Jeffus said. "And so once this emphasis goes away, I'm concerned they'll go away."

DART officials say they’re installing the signs because customers want them. They don't believe the signage is compromising security or safety.

Jeffus says for him, public safety is the top priority.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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