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People Keep Dying From Fentanyl Overdoses On LA Trains, And Residents Have Had Enough

  • Los Angeles train riders are increasingly dying from or using fentanyl, according to a Tuesday report by the Los Angeles Times.
  • The number of deaths on metro buses and trains that occurred in January in the area exceeded the total for 2022, according to the LA Times.
  • “There’s so many sleepers,” a train driver said, according to the LA Times. “Nobody notices that the guy quit breathing until they’re blue. And then by that time, it’s too late.”

People keep dying from fentanyl on Los Angeles trains and residents are growing increasingly frustrated over it, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

There have been 22 deaths on metro buses and trains, mainly due to overdoses since January, surpassing 2022’s total, according to the LA Times. Local residents have largely stopped using the city’s transit systems in their commutes to work.

One train operator described the situation on the trains as a “horror,” telling the LA Times anonymously that he saw a man masturbating and several people high on drugs that were falling asleep on the trains earlier that day.

“We don’t even see any businesspeople anymore. We don’t see anybody going to Universal. It’s just people who have no other choice [than] to ride the system, homeless people and drug users,” the train operator said.

Fentanyl is a highly-potent synthetic narcotic that’s largely responsible for the roughly 100,000 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Serious crimes, such as such as rape, aggravated assault, robbery and murder, also increased 24% from 2021 to 2022, according to the LA Times. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that between November and January there were 26 medical emergencies at the MacArthur Park/Westlake station, which is situated near an open-air drug market.

In January, the number of riders taking the train’s Gold Line was 30% of the pre-pandemic levels, and the Red Line was 56% of the same levels.

The Crenshaw line, which cost the city $2.1 billion, had fewer than 2,100 riders on average on weekdays in January, according to the LA Times.

“There’s so many sleepers,” a train driver said, according to the LA Times. “Nobody notices that the guy quit breathing until they’re blue. And then by that time, it’s too late.”

The security chief for the transit agency previously said she’ll request that its board, which includes Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, expand the number of transit officers beyond the 200 already on the force, according to the LA Times. The board is also soon to decide on the issue of whether or not to extend their contracts with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Long Beach Police Department.

Some, however, are concerned by the efforts to increase policing. The transit authority allocated $122 million over the last year to add 300 unarmed “ambassadors” to help report crimes, according to the LA Times.

“What will harassment and jailing people who use drugs do to address drug use rates?” Alison Vu, a spokesperson for the ACT-LA, a social justice advocacy coalition that advocates against the agency’s contracts with law enforcement, said. “We’ve poured so much money into policing, without any measurable impact on care or safety for transit riders.”

Metro Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins tried to share the success of the “ambassador” program on March 6, when she spoke to reporters as a man in a nearby train car placed marijuana into a cigar wrapper while throwing tobacco onto the floor, according to the LA Times.

“I do think there’s something about the culture of the riding public, that if they know there’s someone who is empowered to report [illegal activity] that may be a deterrent to the activity itself,” Wiggins said.

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