Rape on MTA bus leaves riders nervous, uneasy
At the Fox Hills Mall bus depot in Culver city, some bus riders were shaken by the news of a rape committed on an MTA bus.
"I have a 13-year-old daughter and there is no way on God's green earth she will be riding alone today," said Karen James, a Culver city resident. "I used to take the bus down here when I was that age, but we live in a different time."
James said that she only allows her youngest daughter to ride with her older sister, but that she's instructed both of them to always sit in the front four rows, close to the driver.
"I don't consider myself a fearful person, but you do notice a certain level of people [on the bus], talking to themselves, on drugs, or mentally ill people," James said. "And there's a vulnerability there that they can take advantage of."
Nearby, Patricia Ohalloran was waiting to take her regular No. 6 line down to LAX, where she works for United Airlines.
"It's terrible, you know, a bunch of us get on the bus every day, for working or shopping, whatever, and we feel like we should be safe," she said.
That sentiment was echoed by Ranjita Radha, an intern at Sony Pictures.
"They should increase security so people won't be terrified of traveling," she said.
Robert Smith, an Inglewood resident who commutes to UCLA each day on the bus, also voiced concerns about security problems.
"There really is no security on the bus," said Smith, a graduate student in economics. "I've seen fights, arguments, thefts, everything."
While most riders seemed shaken by the incident, some said they did not feel it indicated a larger issue of bus safety.
"I take the bus every day and I feel pretty comfortable," said Alphonso Price, a Crenshaw resident. "Especially around [Culver City] it seems like people are pretty cool."
Sonya Fredericks said she had never had a problem in the six years she's been riding the No. 6 line to work in Century City.
"This bus is safe, I've never had a problem," she said.
At Jefferson Boulevard and Crenshaw Avenue, Frieda Leeks, 63, headed to her job at a mental health facility in Hollywood on MTA line 210. She said she never takes buses past 7 p.m. if she can avoid it."I worry about the loud ones [passengers] because you never know what they're capable of doing," Leeks said. "One guy was talking about how he was going to kill somebody if he touched him. The other guy wasn't even paying attention to what he was saying. He said he was going to get him with a knife. The bus driver didn't do anything."
Nothing happened, but like everyone on the bus, Leeks said the anticipation that something could happen is "scary."
Still, she said it's hard to imagine a sustained attack such as the one that police say occurred Wednesday, let alone the rape of a young woman on a public bus.
"That's awful. That's so sad. How could it happen?" Leeks said. "It makes me think it can happen to someone else. The person who did this must have known this girl couldn't defend herself."
-- Sam Allen and Hector Becerra