SEPTA crime report

PHILADELPHIA - November 25, 2008 - /*SEPTA*/'s crime rate is especially high during afternoon hours at school dismissal time when thousands of Philadelphia high school students ride the transit system, many of them truants

The most notorious, the five charged with killing coffee shop manager /*Sean Conroy*/ last March. A report by the city controller says truancy and crime on the subway are connected.

"Student violence on the subways is the most important problem," said city controller Alan Butkovitz.

The city controller says 50% of all the serious crime on the transit system is committed by teenagers.

Daily riders don't need statistics to know the story.

"I heard about all the violence and stuff that's going on, especially with the teenagers," said Phillis Barr of West Philadelphia. "It's life."

The controller points to the the "student weekly transpass." Critics say it leaves truants free to roam the transit system from 6:00 in the morning to 7:00 at night.

"At least when they gave out tokens, you minimized the opportunity for misbehavior," said Butkovitz.

SEPTA's management says the controller's report correctly identifies youth crime and homelessness as the challenges confronting SEPTA police, but they refute the notion of wide-spread misuse of transpasses, saying: "SEPTA has seen no evidence of significant misuse of the passes, or any correlation of pass misuse with crime on the system."

The city controller says he fully expects his report on subway safety to wind up on a shelf, gathering dust, at least until another crime wave hits the SEPTA system.

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