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I do not own a car. I have never owned a car. I do not want a car. I want to take the train and ride the bus. I arranged my entire adult life around living in the most urban neighborhood in Minneapolis. I devoted many hundreds of unpaid hours over the past decade to advocating for investing in and improving the transit system in the Twin Cities.

And I feel like a fool.

The situation on the trains — particularly the Blue Line, but the Green Line as well — is completely unacceptable. The reported recent 50-some-percent increase in crimes on transit in no way captures the current state of the system. Conditions are far, far worse than they were five or 10 years ago. Crimes are not reported, and crimes that are reported are clearly not recorded.

Hard core drug use is common. The seats are sticky with spilled alcohol, the floors are strewn with fast food containers and stolen mail. Strung out riders laying on the floor — who certainly aren't harming anyone — are kicked in the face by other strung out riders. People blast music and spit on the windows and scream at each other.

Recently, for the first time in years, I saw Metro Transit police on a Blue Line train, who politely asked people openly doing drugs and drinking in the middle of the day to get off the train. I am pretty confident that, after getting off, they got on the next train.

The people who have overseen this decline — and now collapse — should be ashamed of themselves. Terrified by a handful of social media activists, they have failed in their responsibility to maintain a public service that was, in recent memory, highly functional and depended upon by tens of thousands of users.

The remaining users, many of whom are not fortunate enough to have work-from-home email jobs and disposable income for Ubers and grocery delivery, are left to deal with the consequences.

Our leaders — who employ teams of problem-solvers with half-million-dollar advanced educations — are at a complete loss as to how to deal with people breaking the law in plain sight, in government-owned enclosed spaces covered in cameras, which travel on fixed routes at regular times between stations that are also government-owned and covered in cameras. And you're not going to believe this, but the government body that owns both the trains and the stations also happens to have its own police force.

This is not, actually, a complicated issue. We do not need to hire teams of expensive consultants or spend tens of millions of dollars retrofitting at grade train stations with turnstiles. We do not need a 40-point plan, as was recently unveiled. A 40-point plan is no plan.

Here's the one-point plan we need: people who are brazenly breaking the law will be arrested.

Years ago, before the pandemic, under pressure from activists, we stopped enforcing basic rules on public transit. We stopped ticketing fare evaders. We started tolerating cigarette smoking. Once the pandemic began, we figured we may as well allow the ends of the cars to become opium dens. Some feel pretty good about this more enlightened approach; others are being shot and killed in broad daylight at train stations.

Does anyone in a position to do anything about this care? Anyone at all? We're just going to make more PowerPoints, aren't we?

I feel like I'm losing my mind.

Nick Magrino lives in Minneapolis.