‘Our trains need to be safe.’ Woman’s attack on L.A. Metro line sparks calls for action

People exit and enter subway cars.
Passengers come and go at the 7th Street/Metro Center station in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Twila Mahone has been growing worried about her safety commuting on Metro’s A Line, but an attack last week — which left a 53-year-old woman’s face bruised and battered — has left her increasingly rattled.

“It was just horrible,” said Mahone, 56. “It just took too long for that lady to get help.”

Mahone was riding northbound on the A Line, formerly the Blue Line, on May 17 when the woman was attacked in Long Beach. She said that she saw younger passengers repeatedly punch the woman and that, when the victim and other passengers tried to call 911 and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s emergency system for help, it took minutes for them to be taken seriously.


Mahone said the woman was left with a “big ol’ knot between her eyes” and waited at least 10 minutes before officials stopped the train and passengers could find officers.

“They do have to improve the security on these trains,” Mahone said. “It’s not safe. They know it’s not safe.”

Commuters have abandoned large swaths of a Los Angeles Metro train system plagued by crime and the scourge of drugs.

March 14, 2023

The victim — who asked to remain anonymous, citing concerns for her safety — said she’s still traumatized by last week’s attack, which she believes was racially motivated. She said the attackers shouted about her Asian ethnicity before punching her in the head. She said she’s still waiting to find out if her nose is broken.

“You read about it ... [but] how can it happen to me?” the victim said Tuesday in an interview with The Times. “I’m still scared.”

Long Beach police spokesperson Richard Mejia said no arrests have been made. The incident is under investigation, he said, but police do not at this point believe the incident was motivated by racial hate or bias.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn this week requested a “full accounting” of Metro security staff during the attack, hoping to better understand why the woman waited so long for help.

A person points on a lighted board while another person watches.
Metro Ambassador Ari Silva helps a passenger at the 7th Street/Metro Center station on May 23, 2023.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

“We have multimillion-dollar law enforcement contracts, Metro security and 300 Metro ambassadors who have been hired to ride our buses and trains — but where were they when this woman was beaten up on the Blue Line last week?” Hahn said in a statement Monday. “Enough is enough. Our trains need to be safe for our residents.”

Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero said in a statement that as soon as the agency became aware of the incident, its teams began pulling video files to review what happened.

“We are in the process of reviewing all of them and will share our findings with the Metro board and the public soon,” Sotero said Tuesday. “But we want to make clear that Metro has no tolerance for and will aggressively investigate any incidents of crime, harassment or intimidation on our system.”

He didn’t directly respond to questions about how or when Metro would respond to Hahn’s request, but said the agency is continuing to address public safety concerns through a multilayered plan that includes adding security officers and homeless outreach teams and increasing the number of train ambassadors.

Last week’s attack came a month after a 25-year-old man was fatally stabbed aboard an A Line train in Long Beach. Two arrests have been made in that case.


The attack occurred on a Blue Line train in Long Beach on Wednesday. A motive for the stabbing is under investigation.

April 15, 2023

“This should not be happening, especially just weeks after another Blue Line passenger was stabbed to death in Long Beach,” Hahn wrote in a letter to Metro Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins. “Metro spends hundreds of millions a year to make the system safe. ... Even with all these resources, this passenger was left to fend for herself.”

Hahn, who sits on Metro’s Board of Directors, requested information about where police and transit ambassadors were during the attack, as well as what happened with calls to the train operator and 911.

Overall incidents of crime on the rail system have continued to increase in recent months, up by almost 30% this February compared with last, according to the agency’s latest public safety report. While the agency has seen the most drastic increase in crimes such as trespassing or drug offenses — the latter of which it attributes to recent efforts to crack down on drug use — violent crime has also increased, with aggravated assaults up by almost 50% compared with last year, the agency reported.

A survey last year found that Metro ridership among women had dropped considerably, with women naming safety as their top concern.

In its first survey since 2019, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority found safety, timeliness are main concerns for bus and rail riders.

Nov. 4, 2022

Mahone said she’s working to save up for a car (her last one was stolen) so she doesn’t have to deal with the public transportation system.

“There’s no guarantee when you get on the train that you’re going to be safe,” she said. “I’m sick of all of it.”