Metro launches ‘Respect the Ride’ pilot program to improve customer experience and safety on system

As we continue to welcome back more riders to Metro, we are initiating a pilot program called “Respect the Ride,” which began Monday, April 4.

The idea is simple: we’re working to improve safety and the customer experience on the Metro system. As part of Respect the Ride, we’re deploying a variety of staff to help riders, identify and resolve problems more quickly and make Metro a more welcoming experience for everyone.

Our specific goals are:

•Help riders navigate the Metro system, pay fares and get discounted fares (See this post on our current fare discounts). Although Metro resumed fare collection on buses earlier this year, our current crop of discounts will help all riders potentially save money.

•We also have staff on hand to help riders use the Transit app — Metro’s official app — to plan transit trips and get real-time arrival estimates for buses and trains.

•We’re also adding more custodians to keep our stations as clean as possible, especially the high-touch areas.

•Through staff, signage and announcements, we’re reminding everyone of good transit etiquette and that we do have a Code of Conduct designed to make riding a pleasant experience for all.

•We’re working closely with our own security staff and our law enforcement partners — the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Long Beach Police Department — to ensure our bus and rail system is well patrolled, and is there to help when riders need it.

•We’re continuing to use our homeless outreach staff to connect unhoused riders with social services and housing. More on this below.

As many of you know, homelessness has been a serious regional issue for years — and one that has certainly impacted Metro. And the pandemic didn’t help. A lack of available shelter and other interim housing resulted in an increase in unhoused individuals seeking shelter on our system.

Metro has been taking the problem seriously — and has been working with the nonprofit organization PATH to provide outreach on our system. As the homelessness issue has deepened, the Metro Board of Directors in 2021 approved spending $5 million annually for more outreach, case management and temporary housing for unhoused riders.

We’ve made some progress. More than 400 unhoused riders have been connected to emergency, interim and permanent housing placements since last July. Our teams at 7th/Metro have helped place 96 people in permanent supportive housing since January.

Thoughts, riders? What did you think of our Respect the Ride efforts? Any suggestions? Leave a comment please.

25 replies

  1. No one is making homeless people obey the law by using face masks on trains and buses. The police, security officers, Metro employees, and homeless outreach workers are not doing their jobs. We should not have to be exposed to a life-endangering disease because Metro and its contractors will not do their job.

  2. I disagree with every elitist racist comment on here. Thank you for this. It’s a good beginning step prior to eliminating all police and fare enforcement. Public tranportation is for the public and these are the steps necessary to follow LA’s official motto: “Everyone is Welcome.”

    • How is it racist or elitist when every part of the world does this? Public Transit has and will never be a welfare for the poor. Even in the U.S. that was never the case. It is a public utility for everyone to use as long as they follow the rules and pay their fare share.

      “LA’s official motto: ‘Everyone is Welcome.’” – Oh spare me that hypocrisy. Metro’s core riders, the low-income riders, are now being overlooked because the homeless and drug addicts have now made it unsafe for them to even use the system, how is that “welcoming for everybody?” That and the fact that living in LA has now become inaccessible for anyone making under $30K just proves the hypocrisy behind that motto.

      “Eliminating all police and fare enforcement” – So tell me then, if something happens on those trains (and murder has occurred on those trains), what is Metro supposed to do then? Just keep going? If there’s no fare enforcement, then why should those that do pay the fare continue to pay at the expense that service will continue to get cut?

      Maybe look up what racism and elitism actually means, sincerely, a low income rider that actually pays his fair share and doesn’t use his “minority” status as some excuse to yell out racism.

  3. The number one thing Metro can do to improve safety: INCREASE SERVICE! More frequent buses and trains means less time spent at the stops and stations! Which means less chance of being a victim! How does Metro not realize this? This is the one and only thing Metro has complete control over too!!! Unlike crime. Waiting more than 5 or 6 minutes for a train in the middle of the day in the 2nd largest city in America is just proof that Metro does not think their product can be relied upon.

  4. Bold move by Metro to ask for feedback when they know darn well the issues with cleanliness and security they can’t handle with an $8 billion budget.

  5. This is a good start, but please please please just enforce existing rules already. I have full empathy for the homeless, but Metro is a TRANSIT service first. Not a housing service, and certainly not social services. Metro is suffering from declining ridership and having such a visible homeless problem really deters potential riders. I cannot understate how many people I spoke to refuse or are wary to take transit because of the awful homeless issue, and these are people who have clearly said that they would love to go Metro if it weren’t for the current situation. Enforce fares, remove the homeless from *living* in there, stop letting them literally expel waste on OUR system, and keep it clean! For the love of god, every single one of the Metro trains needs a good power washing.

    Countless studies have shown that mostly lower income Angelenos use Metro. Lower and middle income folks do NOT deserve to be treated like this. What you’re doing now is appeasing homeless folks over your core riders, and disrespecting your core riders in the process. Is this how you want to increase ridership and improve service? Let LAHSA do what they’re supposed to do. Please give the Metro back to Angelenos.

  6. Metro should be honest about which problems they are able and willing to address and which ones they are not. This is particularly important in matters of safety because a false sense of security is potentially dangerous. For example, Metro was never serious about enforcing face coverings or Covid vaccine mandates.

    I no longer ride Metro trains often but when I did, Sheriff Deputies regularly checked passes and TAP cards on the Goldline. On the Red and Purple lines, all inbound passengers had to exit at Union Station so each train compartment could be checked and tidied up before the train went back into service. These were sound practices. It would also be a good idea if Metro prohibited shopping carts and similar large, open, rolling containers on trains. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s much Metro alone can do to significantly reduce the number of homeless and mentally ill people on public transportation who aren’t violating laws.

    Given that low and no-income housing and mental illness services have never been anywhere close to adequate, Metro should admit that it has no good solutions for the problems caused by homeless and mentally ill passengers.

  7. I ride the Red Line every day to work from Vermont/Santa Monica to 7th St. I think the following changes need to be made (aside from the urgent need for restored frequency of 10 minutes or less) to make Metro feel safe for everyone. 1.) Fare enforcement needs to happen at EVERY rail station. It keeps drug addicts and homeless people from using the Metro as a place to go to the bathroom and use drugs. Every entrance should have 1 person checking fares and 1 PATH representative present at all hours. $1.75 is not a burdensome amount to pay for a trip, and low-income commuters should get $20 monthly passes. 2.) More unarmed ambassadors hopping on and off trains. I don’t think cops with loaded guns in a crowded station help people feel safer, but uniformed people walking around and stopping drug use and keeping people from sleeping on seats would help. 3.) Set up coffee/flower/newstand kiosks/bagel shops/whatever at most rail stations. It can bring in revenue and serve as an extra set of eyes to help riders feel safe. Also set up a program to allow musicians to play in stations (not on cars) for the same reason. 4.) Post no littering signs and cite people who litter. Install new trash cans where needed.

    • Roger: Coffee/flower/newstand/kiosks/BAGEL shops, etc…You must be confusing this with a real transit system in New York City. And MILLIONS of riders a Yet LA is plagued by the same awful conditions/homeless/mentally ill/criminals even though they serve a much smaller ridership..

  8. Is it possible to remove riders from trains at turnaround points? I ride the A line several times a week and half of the seats are taken by people asleep in the mornings. Every time the train arrives at 7th/Metro, all of the people sleeping don’t even exit the train and just ride back south. I’m not going to even venture to guess if these persons paid to be on the system but they obviously aren’t using the train for its intended purpose.

    This seems like a simple solution to make room for Metro customers who are trying to stay loyal to the system, reduce their environmental impact, and save money by taking public transportation. I ride the train out of convenience and its is annoyance but there are many metro riders out there who ride trains and buses out of necessity. Why not make changes like this to make metro more inviting. Nowhere in the above article to do you mention removing persons from trains or buses who are violating the rules. Only at stations. Is it also not an option to go back to checking fares on trains or at platforms? This was the policy for many years.

    • As a former Bus Operator with the RTD and then a Supervisor with both the RTD and MTA I can attest to the fact that attempting to remove the homeless at the end of the line is next to impossible. The arrival time and departure time is classified as “Recovery Time”, a buffer in case the bus is late. But it’s also a much needed break time to rest, a snack and a restroom break. Using up that time to eject the homeless defeats the idea of “Recovery Time.” In addition, usually at the first stop the same homeless rebound ones bus only have the prolonged ejectment take place at the other end of the line. The simple solution, sometimes in violation of the rules, is to allow them to stay on the buses and railcars. And to expect a police response in those short ten to fifteen minute breaks is non existent.

  9. This has to be a joke. This is now the 25th time Metro has unveiled some ridiculous “customer care” program like this that has NO teeth, backing or enforcement behind it. And it will fail because the people that need to hear it most are the ones most likely to completely ignore it. In fact, these campaigns actually just rub it in our noses that we are subject to this behavior on every single rail and bus line, at all hours of the day, and Metro will do nothing about it.
    How about more security personnel RIDING YOUR VEHICLES, Metro? Why do you insist on these courtesy campaigns when us riders are subject to harassment, assault, and the stench of feces and urine on every rail line?! If Metro’s top management and the electeds on the Board of Directors that control them were ever forced to use their own system, things would change in a heartbeat. But they are all pampered in their luxury cars and look down on those of us who have to rely on the very system they neglect. At the same time, they pay lip service to new rail projects out towards Arizona. Extending the rail system further and further out, even though they can’t even get the core existing system to work today.

  10. Stop with these half baked half measures and actually DO SOMETHING to prevent crime in your system, Metro! Messages and signs are NOT the solution! If you actually rode your system, you would know this! This is incredibly frustrating, belittling us riders with useless “solutions” like this while failing to do anything tangible to make us safer! Shame on Metro management for thinking this will do anything significant. By pursuing these courtesy campaigns, you are simply mocking us riders who have to face criminal activity on a daily basis, not to mention the feces, and urine soaked vehicles. Thank you, Metro, for proving none of you ride your own system. If you did, you would be terrified of the conditions and would demand something be done to address it. Something more than a nice soothing voice telling people not to litter. Enjoy your 6 figure salaries, Metro, while the rest of us have to deal with the consequences of your inaction.

  11. Metro Riders, do you think this will help? Hasn’t Metro tried these lovey dovey campaigns in the past, with almost zero results? Why does Metro double down on “courtsey campaigns” while us riders are constantly harassed by criminals while we ride your urine and feces stained trains and buses?! Does Metro not understand that people who poo, pee, and smoke crack and other drugs on buses and trains will NOT be convinced by a nice announcement or poster?! Until Metro addresses the unsanitary unsafe conditions of your vehicles, you will continue to lose riders. But Metro doesn’t care at all. They get their paychecks either way. Metro staff are some of the LAST people you will ever see on a Metro bus or train. And yet they think more courtesy campaigns is the answer, instead of more drastic and meaningful measures to get criminals off the vehicles and keep the vehicles sanitized.

  12. Glad that other riders weighed in about their experiences while on Red Line train and local buses. I’m from NY and right now since the onset of the pandemic the subway system there (largest in the country) has had major problems with homeless/mentally ill and criminals reaching record levels not seen in decades. And our new mayor is making every effort to get this under control. As well as dismantling the encampments (if shelter is refused) that have popped up all over the city. Something that was NEVER allowed like here.

    I live in Hollywood on Bronson and for the last 6 years have had an encampment next to me and three others nearby. It was dystopian nightmare that has beset this neighborhood. Trash/rats/fires/drug dealer and criminal activity.

    BTW: half our block is in TOTAL darkness because the city shut the lights when the homeless began tapping into the electric grid from poles..So walking this stretch is dangerous but NOBODY gives a damn. Not the city..Nor the residents…LA style..Do nothing..

    Thankfully, we have the Scientology Center and staff/off duty and retired police in street next to me keeping us safe. If not for their presence this block would have descended into hell in a hand basket..

  13. yeah that should do it, Dora the Explorer style announcements will really educate people to not smoke, urinate, and defecate on trains and buses. As if they simply forgot that smoking hasn’t been allowed indoors in public places for decades. Now they know and they will stop every time they hear the announcement. Bravo. Because the alternative is security removing them from the system, and that’s not okay because “racist outcomes” and “deeply problematic” to tell folks to not smoke or pee or poop on public transit.

  14. I wish some of the LAPD officers who currently stand around in Red Line stations drinking coffee and shooting the breeze would actually ride the trains and at least try to prevent some of the smoking, urination, defecation, masturbation and other assorted grossness which are everyday occurrences. That would go a long way towards creating a more pleasant Metro Rail experience.

  15. The MTA should not attempt to be a Social Service Agency, its a Transportation Agency and should stick to that mission. If someone is a chronic fare avatar they should be banned from the system. Furthermore, MTA Buses and Trains should not be used by the homeless as a rolling homeless encampment. These are City and County responsibility and it’s time they, not the MTA, should address them. Fine million dollars would be better spent improve the system.

    • Under the mantra of “equity” and “caring heartful outreach” to mentally ill criminals that plague its system, Metro doesn’t care about stopping criminal activity that deters so many potential riders from using it. Metro would rather tout its “social justice” credentials by allowing people to sleep, defecate and urinate on their vehicles, because it would be racist or “not equitable” or “too cruel” to remove these elements from their system so that it can be used for what it’s meant for by the rest of us 99% of the population: TRANSPORTATION and MOVING PEOPLE.

  16. Cleaning the stations… how about cleaning the cars? There is trash, urine, and cockroaches on the Red Line (B) trains.

    • Or how about officers riding the trains and buses instead of congregating in groups by the Union Station Starbucks, chit chatting away while women are harassed on the vehicles themselves. Must be a great gig for those officers, hanging out with each other in one of the safest station spots in the system while riders are subject to all kinds of crime on the vehicles themselves.

  17. The Hollywood Red Line train is horrible. Have gotten off at Pershing Square station during the day and it’s deserted and creepy. Never know who or what unhinged person is around. And traveling on train past 6/7pm is no better. Ran late coming back from Santa Monica Came and transferred to Red Line at 7th Street Metro to Hollywood at 10pm. Car had mentally ill homeless in various stages of acting out. No,thanks. Will not do that again. Not enough security..

    • I totally agree with you. It feels I’m taking a train in a third world country at least.
      Not safe. Creepy people are hanging around. Some folks smoking drugs (not weed only), some screaming, some sleeping…
      This is a BIG problem.

    • The little security that Metro has goes down to almost zero at night. Any regular rider can tell you this. But Metro couldn’t care less, the only people they have to somewhat worry about are 9 to 5 commuters, and even then…well, you see the conditions of their vehicles.