Metro’s new pilot transit ambassador program designed to make our system a more welcoming and safer environment, took a big step forward on Thursday when the Metro Board of Directors approved two contracts for staffing the program.
When the transit ambassador program launches in late summer or this fall, ambassadors will be on Metro buses and trains and in stations to greet riders, help them navigate our system, pay fares, download key Metro apps and work with Metro to quickly address issues.
Ambassadors will be on our system from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The ambassadors will have spiffy new uniforms so they’re easily seen by riders and will have phones and/or radios to easily reach other Metro staff.
The program was modeled on existing ambassador programs run by BART and SEPTA, transit agencies that serve the Bay Area and the Greater Philadelphia metro area, respectively. Metro’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) also helped shape the program. Our riders, in recent surveys, also showed overwhelming support for such a program — in particular saying they wanted to see more Metro staff on the system.
This is important: the ambassador program will be housed outside of our System Security and Law Enforcement Department. Public safety is important — but the emphasis here is to greet riders and have the time to create positive and compassionate interactions with them. The ambassadors will also work with crisis intervention teams to help connect riders who are unhoused or experiencing mental health crisis to social services.
Our ambassador program will be a three- to five-year pilot — and we’ll use customer feedback and other data to refine it as we go. The ambassadors will be supplied by two firms: Strive Well-Being Inc., which is a Small Business Enterprise firm, and RMI International Inc (RMI), a Minority Business Enterprise firm.
Strive Well-Being proposes to recruit ambassadors from three community-based organizations — Union Station Homeless Services, Communities Actively Living Independently & Free and Homeboy Industries. RMI proposes to supplement its recruitment of ambassadors by working with WorkSource Regional Business Services and the Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board. The Metro staff report on the contracts is here.
These will also be good jobs for those who serve as ambassadors, paying at least the living wage, which is currently almost $22 in California. We want ambassadors to enjoy the job, stick around and gain valuable experience. Prior to being deployed, all ambassadors must complete training by Metro that will include cultural and situational awareness, unconscious bias training, disability awareness, customer service, trauma-informed response, and other personal and public safety courses.
Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks as we get closer to launching the ambassador program. We’re very excited to keep improving our system by giving our riders everything they need for a safe, pleasant, clean and comfortable ride.
Categories: Transportation News