MetroLink program aims to eliminate ride jumpers and improve security

ST. LOUIS – Next time you ride MetroLink, be prepared to show workers you’ve bought a ticket if you want to ride.

MetroLink launched a new pilot program Monday in hopes of finding a way to make the system safer. MetroLink has had an open system; it’s not been difficult to ride the trains without buying a ticket. Some people think that leads to more crime.

“There will be somebody at these three stations during the next three weeks that you will have to prove you have purchased a ticket or a pass before we will allow access to the platform,” said Patti Beck, a MetroLink spokeswoman.

The three stations involved are North Hanley, Fairview Heights, and DeBaliviere. Crews put barriers in place as part of the pilot project. The barriers will funnel riders through a designated entry, workers will then check for tickets.

“I think if they monitor it, there would be less (sic) problems on the train,” said Ashleigh Hamilton, a MetroLink customer.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said the pilot program could lead to ticket turn styles and a closed system for MetroLink, which he said should cut down on crime.

“If you’re a law-abiding citizen, you’re going to check in through the turnstile, the person who doesn’t buy tickets is generally up to no good,” he said.

The sheriff said there have been minor problems like panhandlers but violent crimes are not frequent.

“I want to feel safe when I walk up in this MetroLink,” said rider Sheila White.

Grace Orso, who rides the train, added, “I get scared out here knowing that people are out and about with no tickets.”

Law enforcement said the perception that MetroLink is dangerous is simply wrong.

“Absolutely, it’s getting safer,” Sheriff Watson said.