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Opinion

Readers React: Feelings of despair seeing L.A.'s homeless take shelter in Metro trains and stations

The feet of a homeless man hang over seats as he sleeps inside a Metro Red Line subway car inside Un
A homeless man sleeps on a Metro Red Line train nearing Los Angeles Union Station last year.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For the Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a senior who rides Metro’s Red Line subway daily, I am glad to see the article by reporter Laura J. Nelson and the moving photos by Francine Orr about the homeless people of Los Angeles who take shelter in stations and on trains. (“As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway,” April 6)

When I ride, I cannot ignore the sprawling bodies that regularly accompany me, which are especially noticeable when I go downtown to swim at 6 a.m. Perhaps my garb and demeanor cause them to ignore me, but there is no way I can ignore them.

The added presence of uniformed police officers provides a sense of security, and perhaps the social workers trying to connect with the homeless people on the trains and in the stations can provide some care. But while the Red Line has definitely shortened the time and difficulty of my daily commute, navigating the new reality has only left me with a sense of helplessness and despair.

Ruth Kramer Ziony, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I ride the Red Line from the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles quite frequently. It is fast, inexpensive and environmentally friendly.

The trains and stations are patrolled by law enforcement who seem to have little interest in enforcing the rules of ridership, hence the current situation.

In the recent past, I was assaulted by an aggressive panhandler on a subway platform when I asked him to show me his TAP card — which transit riders use to pay their fares — after he asked me for money. There was an officer nearby, to whom I reported the incident. The officer briefly spoke with the assailant, who was released back onto the same platform.

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This (likely homeless) person had time to confront me again before my train arrived. And Metro wonders why overall transit ridership is down.

Bill Friedman, Studio City

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