After sometimes-tragic stories of kids' wreaking havoc on and around SEPTA property over the past few years - including the beating that led to the death of a Starbucks manager in Center City in March 2008 - things have calmed down considerably.

Rambunctious kids fresh from six or seven hours of sitting in class may still pester older riders, but the number of reported incidents involving juveniles during after-school hours has fallen 26 percent since last school year, according to statistics provided by the transit agency.

There were 196 incidents from the start of this school year through May 28, compared with 266 over the same period last year. Of those 196 incidents, 160 ended without any arrests; 26 juveniles were charged with disorderly conduct and 23 with aggravated assault.

"I think it's pretty endemic in our transit authority that at school-dismissal time, everybody's eyes and ears perk up," said SEPTA Police Chief Richard Evans. "We deploy additional personnel at places where we think there will be groups of students."

Evans credits overlapping day and afternoon shifts of SEPTA cops to better monitor young riders and better coordination with the school district, local college police, and the Center City District.

Willie Brown, head of the Transport Workers Union Local 234, said that things have improved since SEPTA began installing cameras on all of its buses about a year-and-a-half ago.

"I won't say it's great, but it's acceptable," Brown said. "Once you get a bunch of kids, there's always going to be some problem. But there's nothing out of the ordinary. Once they put in the cameras, everything calmed down."