New hotline launched to assist victims of sexual harassment on Metro system

Furthering its commitment to assist transit passengers who have experienced unwanted sexual contact, Metro today announced a first-of-its-kind 24/7 sexual harassment counseling hotline.

The hotline, 1-844-Off-Limits (633-5464), will be staffed by counselors from the community advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which has 45 years of experience counseling victims of sexual abuse in Los Angeles County. The hotline is a one-year pilot program.

“This 24/7 hotline is part of Metro’s commitment to keeping the system a safe space for all passengers,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. “Launching the round the clock sexual harassment hotline shows that Metro cares about our riders experiences and that we’re committed to their safety.”

The Metro 844-Off-Limits (633-5464) hotline features counselors who are trained to address issues related to sexual harassment on a transit system. Peace Over Violence is the pre-eminent victim rights advocacy organization in L.A. County and has maintained a rape and battering hotline for the past 45 years of service.

“A victim of sexual harassment on a bus or train might have to encounter their harasser on a daily basis while traveling to work or school,” said Patty Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. “We want victims to make reports and also have the resources they need to recover in a healthy way.”

Metro ramped up efforts to reduce sexual harassment on the bus and rail system in April 2015 with the “It’s Off Limits” campaign that encouraged victims and witnesses to contact police with reports of harassment. The campaign included advertisements posted on 2,200 buses and 400 train cars in addition to distributing tens of thousands of information cards throughout the transit system. The rate of sexual harassment reported to Metro has decreased from 22 percent to 15 percent since the inception of the campaign, according to surveys Metro has done of its riders.

Metro has also implemented cell service in Red/Purple Line stations in downtown Los Angeles, increased video surveillance and monitoring of the transit system and added provisions to the Metro Code of Conduct to specifically prohibit many different types of harassment.

“No other transit agency in the world has a 24/7 sexual harassment victim hotline,” said Metro CEO Phillip Washington. “The establishment of this pilot program exemplifies Metro’s commitment to protecting our customers from this kind of abuse.”

“Metro partnered with Peace Over Violence nearly two years ago and efforts to make the transit system a safe space for all travelers are increasingly successful, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro First Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “We’re providing resources for our passengers who may experience long-lasting effects from unwanted sexual contact.”

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16 replies

  1. Great except it’s useless in most of the subway stations. It is crazy that it is taking so long to have cell service in all stations. Literally this should have been completed a minimum of 5 or 6 years ago.

  2. Need to have undercover officers on the trains and busses to do stings for not only this but other crime. Right now everyone sees the occasional cop or farechecker board a train and then is on their best behavior. As soon as they get off, it is a free for all again.

    • I see absolutely NO REASON why Metro can’t do this, as BART, in the S.F. Bay area has had this for many years and it has proved quite effective. Metro could devote, maybe 10-15% of its policing to undercover work and thus be more provocative instead of just responsive. That way there would be more ridership, which in return means more money in Metro’s pockets.

  3. Big deal ! The fact that there is almost no security guards on metro lines gives some people the chance to do almost anything they want.

  4. Probably the best fix for curbing sexual harassment or many other crimes on the Metro system is to simply have every station be manned by an employee. Oftentimes, it doesn’t even have to be an armed security officer, just some kind of official presence that would be enough to discourage people from committing crimes. By manning every station, you prevent crime not only on the platform but also on the trains themselves. If an incident occurs on a train, it is much easier to get off at the next stop and inform the on-duty employee than to stop and call a phone number. By manning *every* station, people will only have to wait a couple of minutes for a response instead of up to 15-20 minutes when calling a hotline. Given how relatively small LA’s metro rail network is, I’m surprised we aren’t doing this already when most larger systems already have some kind of employee at every station (DC, New York, etc.)

  5. Yesterday I called in a noise complaint (aggressive man with a boombox), providing all the details to Metro Security. I was told they would send someone to the train shortly. I then rode the train for another 30 minutes, looking for Metro Security. They never showed up. We even passed a platform with Metro Security standing on it, but they were obviously never notified about my complaint, because they just continued talking (didn’t come over to investigate).

    My point is, it is becoming very clear to me that doing the right thing (calling in violations) is doing no good, and law enforcement is virtually non-existent. Maybe it is Metro’s policy not to enforce nuisance crimes, such as illegal vending, vendors and loud music, maybe the crime has to be violent to be taken seriously, I don’t know.

    • The only way we are going to get this problem fixed isn’t with some “hot Line” it’s with undercover law enforcement actually riding both the buses and the trains. Most other transit systems in the nation have undercover law enforcement that actually rides the system. You could be dead by the time it takes a law enforcement officer to respond today. If there were law enforcement officers riding the system we would have fewer problems than we do today and a much cleaner system too.

  6. Legitimate question that I’ve often wondered when seeing the hotline signs: How would calling the hotline help me if I’m being harassed? Most women rely on themselves to try and safely extricate themselves from these situations though sometimes they get pretty scary. I recently witnessed a woman being verbally abused, yelled at, by three men because she didn’t reciprocate their advances, this was at union station on the redline platform, where security and conductors abound. Nobody said word. In addition to security on the trains, it would be helpful if our fellow passengers gave a crap and spoke up when they witness a woman being harassed. I’m not holding out for that though, most people can’t even be bothered to move their bag off the seat next to them to allow you to sit down, let alone speak up in your defense.

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