Today, at around 5:25 p.m., a person who accessed the Internet from a computer on Intel's network (fmfwpr03.fm.intel.com), went looking on Google to find out "how safe is sacramento RT park and ride service."
Of course, the "Regional Transit Police Services - Crime Prevention Tips" and the "Laws & Rules - Sacramento Regional Transit," which were No. 1 and No. 2 on Google's search results, were never going to answer that question.
And so the person landed on my blog post "Ins and outs, but mostly ins (knock on wood)," which includes the line "... and that was only as far as the nearby light rail park-and-ride station. Every other day I've been able to rely on Sacramento Regional Transit. ..."
At 5:27, Anonymous posted a comment asking, "Can you please tell me how safe is to park the car at RT park & Ride locations, for 8 to 5 timing."
Ever the helpful transitarian, I offered this reply:
I take the bus from my house to light rail and then to work. Or I take two buses. So I don't have daily experience with park-and-ride lots.
However, on those occasions when I have driven to a park-and-ride lot, I have returned to find my car unmolested.
RT has contract security guards at all park-and-ride lots. Of course, there was that problem in Rancho Cordova where the contract guards were caught stealing video game boxes from cars, but that's the exception that proves the rule. Maybe.
Bottom line: Parking your car anywhere for an extended period has its risks. RT tries to reduce those risks. I have no problem recommending that people park their cars and jump on light rail, especially if you work regular daytime hours. If you work nights and pick up the car after midnight -- which I have done twice in the last year -- it is a little lonely out there, but no more threatening than any lonely place at midnight.
When I got home, however, I decided I would try Crimemapper, the Sacramento Bee's interactive map of crime reports. This is more interesting than state worker salaries.
For a test, I tried the 8900 block of Folsom, which is adjacent to the Watt/Manlove light rail park and ride station. The database allows you to set the distance from the location. I set the radius at 500 feet. Obviously a circle 1000 feet in diameter includes both sides of Folsom and areas beyond the park and ride lot. Fortunately, the map pinpoints where the crime reports were filed.
Between March 1, 2007, and Feb. 29, 2008, there were eight larcenies, one assault, nine burglaries (vehicles, businesses and homes) and two robberies. There was an assault and a larceny at the corner of Folsom and South Watt and a petty theft and a "casualty" report near the station. Total police reports in the area: 54.
Now, let's put this in some perspective and compare that with the crime statistics for the area around Arden Way and Heritage Lane, the main entrance to Arden Fair Mall.
In the same 12 month period, there were four auto thefts, three assaults, 19 burglaries of all types, 45 larcenies, a drug bust and an illegal weapon charge. Total reports: 100.
So, you're safer parking your car at the light rail station and taking the bus to the mall.
Of course, if you want to be safe, you won't drive at all.
Highway accidents claimed more than 43,000 lives in 2005 and injured more than 2.7 million Americans. By contrast, only 185 people died in accidents with transit vehicles.A Better Way to Go
Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation
Challenges with Modern Public Transit
CalPIRG Education Fund Report, Page 14