Transportation Tip: Stop Inland Empire Human Trafficking

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

The Transportation Tip this week will focus on how you can help authorities fight against a very serious crime taking place here at home and possibly aboard our trains and buses.

But before I cover this tip, here is a run down of your views and comments regarding public transportation and smart growth development:

Your Views:

 RTA needs to have service past sundown in Riverside esp in the downtown area but COC hates public transit -FBM/Twitter

I do agree with the commentator about getting later service for RTA's service area in Riverside. In fact, RTA's proposed 10 Year Transit Plan addresses that. The Coalition will keep a watch on these proposals until they become official changes and such schedules are reflected in the Ride Guide.

Regarding the statement "COC hates public transit", I need to ask, "what is COC?" I can assume that COC refers to Orange County or Chamber of Commerce, but accusing the county or any entity of hating public transit without backing them up with direct facts weakens the debate and makes transit advocates look foolish. We need to hold off on these smears. Yes, business people generally want efficient government, not over-regulation or wasteful spending. Yes, Orange County has a massive network of freeways and carpool lanes. There are a number of transit mobility opportunities that can be integrated into the infrastructure such as adding direct access ramps between the carpool lanes and adjacent transit centers which would allow for robust and productive all day BRT express services for the freeways. Good examples of multi-modal ramps include the I-10 El Monte Busway and the I-15 Express Lanes in San Diego County. People in business would likely not hate these ideas.

I encourage you to look at the plans for the Harmony development proposed in Highland. In it, the majority of their arterials will include at least one adjacent Class I, with there being one on both sides of the road the majority of the time. That is far superior than the Class IIs on arterials in numerous regards that stretch beyond just maintenance. Completely forgoing the Class IIs for 'sharrows' would be better in those instances. Also, since it will likely involve completely new construction or substantial reconstruction anyway, those paths need to be designed so that the intersections aren't at grade level from the very beginning. -marven/Transit Talking Points Blog

I appreciate the tip. The Harmony Specific Plan is about 270 pages. I'll have to page through it but will point out some of the more interesting facts as I find them. Certainly Class I trails are more superior than Class II lanes. Although separated grade crossings can provide for seamless travel, each crossing and trail needs to be looked at individually to keep construction costs in check, even if paid for by the developer. In general, the higher volume road crossings can warrant a full grade separation, lower volume streets can utilize a signalized at-grade crossing. The lowest volume cross streets can sustain an uncontrolled crossing. Of course, I'm generalizing and there will be exceptions here and there, especially if longer distance bikeways are involved like the Santa Ana River Trail. Should the Harmony Class I's be grade separated? I'll take a look at the maps first.

@TTCInlandEmpire Metrolink works for beach trips. Not so much for games and other events in Los Angeles. -Twitter/Phantom Commuter 

@PhantomCommuter Per website, return train coordinated with end of Angels games. Last Dodgers SB Line train from LAUS 11pm M-F, 11:30 Sat. -Twitter/The Transit Coalition

@TTCInlandEmpire Not for long... -Twitter/Phantom Commuter 

Graphic: LA Metro
The poster may be correct on the last point in the context with the Dodgers game but the Coalition does not want "Not for long..." happening to the Metrolink San Bernardino Line.

For the record, back in June during the Dump The Pump campaign, the Coalition echoed one of Metrolink's promotions to try out its weekend services which lead to this discussion on Twitter.

Well, well, well...because of a funding dispute between SANBAG and Metrolink, the last weekday departures for the San Bernardino out of Los Angeles Union Station are proposed to be cancelled effective in October. That means, people taking advantage of LA Metro's Dodger Express promotion from LA Union Station for weekday evening games and connecting via the San Bernardino Line will be affected during the post-season playoffs in October. Hence, the service is here for now, but "not for long." Again, we don't want that to happen.

The Transit Coalition is once again calling advocates to contact their local representative sitting on both government agency boards and demand a fair solution that won't tear apart the San Bernardino Line.

Transportation Tip: Support your transit agency's efforts to stop human trafficking

All over Southern California, I have seen our transit agencies active in educating its riders of Human Trafficking. For example, in San Diego County, NCTD has anti-trafficking posters posted on Sprinter ticket vending machines. I saw one at the Escondido Transit Center while conducting a field study of the new I-15 "One Sweet Ride" BRT Express service. Human trafficking is a disgusting crime that has become a multi-billion dollar business for crime organizations. The fact remains that trafficking victims might be using RTA and Omnitrans buses, stops and transit centers. Agencies should continue to reach out to riders so that this crime can be stopped.

What is trafficking? The National Human Trafficking Resource Center defines this horrible exploitation very accurately:

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. The factors that each of these situations have in common are elements of force, fraud, or coercion that are used to control people.  Then, that control is tied to inducing someone into commercial sex acts, or labor or services.  Numerous people in the field have summed up the concept of human trafficking as "compelled service."  Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, and here in the United States.  Human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

Locked in: A strip of wood is installed in this window sill inside of a Los Angeles apartment which housed trafficking victims. The wood locked it shut and prevented trafficking victims from escaping.
Photo: FBI
Trafficking has become such a widespread problem that no sector in the marketplace is immune from it. Victims include both foreigners and U.S. citizens. On top of prostitution, victims have been found and identified in manufacturing, restaurants, hospitality, construction, agricultural fields, beauty, and residential. There have been examples of it here in the Inland Empire.

This is a disgusting issue. Trafficking crime enterprises and the people who operate them have the gall to exploit innocent people into non-existent high-paying jobs, education, economic security, and friendship--victims who were seeking opportunity but were deliberately misled, lied to, and enslaved.   Once lured, these traffickers take away their victims private property including their personal identification cards and take "ownership" of them by locking them away in private homes and apartments with disgusting and inhumane living conditions. Traffickers threaten violence against the victims or their family if they try to run away or talk to authorities. Victims are also used as collateral for one's pleasure, subject to physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse. And all of this is for the greed of power and money.

For goodness sake, THIS HAS TO STOP!

Like NCTD, the Orange County Transportation Authority has also published a campaign to stop human trafficking on its website soliciting its bus riders to be vigilant. Inland Empire bus riders need to do the same.

Transportation Tip: We in Riverside and San Bernardino County should follow OCTA's lead and "Be the one to help out." Whenever you ride the bus or the train, be on the watch for suspicious or unusual activity. If you suspect a transit rider aboard a Metrolink train or aboard an RTA, Omnitrans or city-operated bus may be a victim of human trafficking, get to a safe spot and contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. For your safety, experts advise to not intervene directly to the victims, as that may expose yourself or the victim and his/her family to retaliation by the trafficker.

Governments from the local level all they way to the federal government have done a tremendous job in educating the public on this issue. But the agencies need your help too. Take the time to learn more about this grave human and civil rights injustice and how you can help safely stop it and get rid of it.

Human trafficking worldwide must be ridden from existence.