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Man accused of beating 79-year-old at light rail station pleads guilty

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A man accused of punching a 79-year-old man and stealing his groceries pleaded guilty this week, KSTP reports.

Eric Larson was charged with first-degree aggravated robbery after authorities said he pushed and punched the victim at the 10th Street Green Line platform on Sept. 14. The 79-year-old had set his groceries down to buy a light rail ticket, the charges said.

Larson, the Pioneer Press reports, will get six months in jail when he's sentenced early next year.

More than 6.5 million people rode the Green Line in 2014, according to Metro Transit, while nearly another 9.5 million took trips on the Blue Line.

The attack came at the same time WCCO ran a story about crime at light rail platforms, finding police responded to hundreds of calls at numerous stops during a six-month period.

On the Green Line, the Central Avenue station had 481 calls, while Snelling had 478, WCCO reports. For the Blue Line, the Lake Street/Midtown platform was the subject of 858 incidents (though the station notes about half were unpaid fares).

So here’s a question: Is there a link between public transit and crime?

That’s hard to say, according to CityLab. Recent studies of transit systems in Vancouver and Charlotte found that introducing new travel options actually reduced crime. But the story admits social science “rarely works so cleanly,” with some studies ending without being able to make a determination, and at least one (which looked at Chicago’s system) found “cautious” support for a link.

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