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MetroBus passengers react to safety, security changes announced after driver shot

Bi-State announced a major initiative to increase MetroLink train safety just last month. Now, Metro is turning its safety focus has shifted from rail to road.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — After a MetroBus driver was shot and critically wounded Friday night, Bi-State Development officials have announced increased security measures on buses. 

Bi-State officials just went through this drill last month to increase safety on Metrolink trains and platforms.

On Saturday night Bi-State Development President and CEO Taulby Roach announced the following safety changes for the entire Metro Transit system:

  • more security patrols on MetroBus routes
  • partnering with law enforcement to increase presence on north county routes
  • the number of security officers will increase across the system
  • accelerating the deployment of safety equipment on Metro vehicles
  • continuing to offer supports and mental health resources to Metro employees

The announcement came a day after Jonathan Cobb, a 33-year-old bus driver and father of two, was shot and critically wounded while driving a northbound bus on Lucas & Hunt near Natural Bridge.

At the Richmond Heights Metrolink station Sunday, a woman who did not want to be identified said, “Safety’s got to come first.”

A 5 On Your Side reporter asked if she had ever felt threatened on a MetroBus.

“No,” she replied.

At the North Hanley Metro Station, bus passenger Darrius Tolbert said Metro security is better than it was seven years ago.

“There’s a lot of people doing whatever,” said Tolbert, “hanging out, loitering, selling whatever you can name. A lot of times cops or security wouldn’t be here to do anything about it, but that’s changed, now.”

This comes at a time when as recently as two weeks ago, an increase in Metro security was focused on the agency's light rail trains. Bi-State Development announced a $52-million public-private partnership that would install centralized customer entrances, or gates, at all 32 MetroLink stations, making them accessible only with a paid ticket or pass.

RELATED: Bi-State moves on $52M plan to add turnstiles, enhanced security for MetroLink

“We are working to try to secure private-sector commitments of my estimate of $13-million," Roach said at a recent Bi-State Development board meeting. "We are not quite halfway there. I do think we will be able to move forward with those commitments and have them in place toward the very first part of January 2022.”

Now, Metro's safety focus has shifted from rail to road.

Barry Drummond said Metro needs to put those safety and security increases in place.

“Do that,” said Drummond. “I have no problem with that. It’s long overdue. I hope the driver gets well. Godspeed.”

Major Case Squad investigators said passengers on board Cobb’s bus Friday night told them they heard one gunshot come from outside the bus. Police continue to search for the shooter.

Major Case Squad investigators say anyone with information who wishes to remain anonymous and be eligible for a CrimeStoppers reward up to $5,000 can call 866-371-TIPS.

Metro Transit's planned "Be Merry on Metro" event this month has been postponed. The release announcing the postponement did not say if the change was due to the shooting.

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