A small band of Guardian Angels – those unarmed, self-governing, keep-the-peace types who pop up occasionally – are riding the rails around Portland. Other riders tend to dig them; bureaucrats worry. Here's an easy fix: Government-funded Angels.
What brought the Angels out? A story by Portland Tribune's Nick Budnick points to recent serious crimes on the TriMet MAX light-rail lines that have jacked up rider worry. But for a lot of regulars, it's the less-dangerous, more frequent incidents that rankle. Seattle and Portland's transit systems are much less plagued by crime and crud than most (if not all) other comparable systems in the county, but that's a relative thing. If you happen to be here on the day an incontinent, very lonely drunk gets in your face, it doesn't really matter that things in Atlanta are worse.
The Guardian Angels can be just the right fit in these situations, when all that's needed is a couple of serious-looking people to calmly help the troublemaker find a better place to sit, and maybe a 911 call.
TriMet's official line about the G-Angels is along the lines of "Welcome aboard/You don't work for us." Not an unreasonable stance, given the loose-cannon nature of any unofficial group that declares itself a peace-keeping force.
But here's a thought: What if transit agencies like Metro or TriMet and downtown-business associations partnered in creating official volunteer corps–providing training and appropriately cool apparel, along with free transit passes.
A good name is important: Maybe the P-Town Posse for Portland. And to complement that new SLUT in Seattle, the new volunteers could go by TRICS (Transit Riders In Cahoots for Safety).
Oh, and maybe some nice fleece hats instead of those berets?