Loitering is not a very common occurrence in Orange County, but when it is reported on street corners or outside major transportation centers, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Transit Police Services (TPS) address the issue quickly. The OC Sheriff's Department provides security and law enforcement for OCTA under contract.
Four Steps to tackling Loitering
The Orange County Transit Police tackles loitering through four basic steps: scanning, analyzing, responding and assessing.
- Scan — We rely on the strong partnership with our customers and community to be our eyes and ears, reporting suspicious activities to law enforcement who can visit the site to investigate.
- Analyze — Proper analysis of an incident consists of a transit deputy carefully examining his/her observations to identify possible causes and key factors.
- Response — TPS reports to city officials in which transportation center, commuter-rail station or bus stop is located to address loitering issues and enforce laws under proper municipal codes.
- Assess — A transit deputy will evaluate the incident through observations and various visits to the site to verify the problem has been alleviated.
Working with Transit Police Services
Transit Police Services works closely with OCTA's Planning and Development Department to enhance safety for OCTA customers. A plan is currently underway to upgrade seating benches through the addition of armrests. Making physical changes to bus stops and benches is a method adopted from Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Most implementations of CPTED occur solely within the "built environment" to dissuade offenders from loitering. These tactics have been proven to dissuade those who loiter in and around transportation centers.
Currently, OCTA coach operators access designated employee areas within transportation centers via access codes. Although access codes are exclusively for OCTA personnel, number combinations have been illegally used by local passersby. To prevent trespassing, TPS plans to implement card-swipe entry in place of access code keypads.
OCTA has the unique opportunity to collaborate with TPS to further develop and shape the future of transit in Orange County. Future projects include a "Go Local" program that encourages cities to plan transit connections from local Metrolink stations to major employment, residential and activity centers. As part of the Go Local program, a pedestrian undercrossing will be the newest addition to the Orange Metrolink station. During the planning and developing phases, TPS played an active role with the undercrossing layout and design to enhance OCTA customer safety. The undercrossing will include surveillance cameras, rolling security gates to prohibit people from entering after hours and a designated TPS parking area that will provide transit police a full line of vision through the tunnel.
Committed to safety
In 2005, we were recognized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as the nation's No. 1 transportation system because of our ability to deliver safer, faster and more efficient transportation solutions throughout Orange County. Our system includes a fast-growing bus service with nearly 70 million boardings per year, Metrolink commuter trains on three rail lines with more than 1.5 million passengers annually, the 91 Express Lanes toll road that provides faster commutes for residents in Orange County and the Inland Empire, significantly enhanced freeways and coordinated taxicab. It is through hard work and dedication of Transit Police Services that OCTA is able to uphold its commitment to customer safety.
At the north end of downtown Tampa, Fla., sits one of the city's most aesthetically pleasing structures. There is a courtyard filled with flowers, public art, shelters for shade from the hot Florida sun, vending machines, a spacious (and air-conditioned) lobby and lots of comfortable benches — all surrounded by a canopy of trees.