Map of Bus Stop Crime Locations in West Central Los Angeles

In 1983-85, we conducted a study of bus crime in west central Los Angeles. We randomly surveyed almost 1100 households in west central Los Angeles and documented the level of exposure to crime on buses, at bus stops, or while traveling to or from bus stops. We showed that the level of bus and bus-related crime was approximately 25 times higher than that documented by the local transit agency, and that these crimes accounted from between 20% and 30% of ALL crimes in west central Los Angeles. We further examined non-bus-related crimes and compared the data to Los Angeles Police Department records for central Los Angeles. Our estimates were consistent with these records.

The discrepancies between the local transit agency's information and our estimates can be explained by systematic distortions in the way information is collected. About half the crimes that were committed were never reported. For those that were reported, the police never came about half the time. When the police did come, in almost all cases it was the local police rather than the transit police who arrived. Consequently, the transit agency never found out about the vast majority of crimes occurring on their system.

Recommendations were made for improving transit crime incident reporting and for linking up the transit agency information with that from the local police department. A task force met for a year and made specific recommendations for implementing these procedures and for improving security.

We also examined bus stop locations which had many incidents or which were perceived as being dangerous. We found that there were only a handful of bus stop locations with many incidents. We conducted week-long observations at three of the these bus stop locations, and made specific recommendations for improving security. We believe that crime prevention efforts have to be targeted to the specific conditions of a locale.

See the study reports:

  • Ned Levine and Martin Wachs, Factors Affecting the Incidence of Bus Crime in Los Angeles, Vol. I and II.Urban Mass Transportation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation: Washington, DC. Final Report for DOT Contract CA-06-0195. January 1985. Available in National Technical Information System database.

  • Ned Levine and Martin Wachs, "Bus Crime in Los Angeles: I - Measuring The Incidence". Transportation Research. 1986, 20(4): 273-284.

  • Ned Levine and Martin Wachs, "Bus Crime in Los Angeles: II - Victims and Public Impact". Transportation Research. 1986, 20(4): 285-293.

  • Ned Levine, Martin Wachs and Elham Shirazi, "Crime at Bus Stops: A Study of Environmental Factors". Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. 1986, 3(4): 339-361.