L.A. Metro Board Approves New Transit Ambassador Program to Help Improve the Customer Experience

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 6 a.m.  to 10 p.m. from Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 10 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

13 replies

    • Hi James;

      The starting pay is $20.42 an hour and there is a $3,000 sign-on bonus. The top pay rate is $27.31/hr after 42 months. More info about the salary and the many benefits on our careers page.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. FFS we need more BUS DRIVERS not some random Metro employee getting paid to ride the bus. Stop the war on the poor and just let us get to work on time ?

    • “The war on the poor” wouldn’t exactly be the way to phrase it, as they need the poor to actually do the work no one wants.

  2. Metro’s Transit Ambassador Program sounds like yet another public relations ploy.

    Will the Ambassadors do anything about the many passengers and bus operators who refuse to wear “required” face coverings? What will they do about the tobacco and cannabis fumes riders are often exposed to on trains and buses? Will they restore my old bus stops so I can safely resume using public transportation? Given that Ambassadors won’t work past 9 pm, what can they do about homeless and/or mentally ill people who spend their nights on trains?

    The false sense of safety Metro seeks to engender is dangerous. If a passenger is assaulted on a train or bus, they should rely on themselves and fellow passengers to repel the attacker, *not* a spiffily clad greeter armed with a phone or radio.

  3. Man I don’t even know if at that amount it is worth dealing with entitlement (yes, you can both poor and entitled believe it or not) and the bums sleeping on the system. Maybe this is a nice first step, but I just definitely have my doubts.

    You really should consider raising fares or actually start enforcing them NOW at the very least Metro, it’s clear you have no direction but the problem is no one will lose their job at Metro over the issues it clearly has. And people don’t want privatization either cause they somehow believe only the government is capable of the task.

  4. Metro should reconsider comparing their ambassador program to what SEPTA does in Philadelphia. The ambassador program that SEPTA has came into being because of a problem with their Rotem-built Silverliner V trains. The Silverliner V trains had a chassis problem about 5 or 6 years ago. The ambassadors were hired through a subcontractor that also runs the Regional Rail ticket offices for SEPTA. SEPTA had to run fare lines to control crowds as a result of losing the use of 120 train cars. After the Silverliner Vs were repaired, SEPTA and their subcontractor kept the ambassadors to help passengers with the new SEPTA Key fare system. Originally, SEPTA Key assistants were supposed to be SEPTA employees. To this day, the SEPTA Key “ambassadors” work fewer hours (as well as greatly reduced hours for the ticket offices run by the same contractor). When the “ambassadors” leave, and the ticket offices in the 3 Center City stations are closed, and the SEPTA Key Customer Assistance phone line shuts down for the evening, the job of helping passengers with SEPTA Key falls to people who have not been properly trained to help people with the system (including station cleaners). BART’s ambassador program would be the better model for Metro to follow.

  5. Nice to know that metro is paying ambassadors more, as if they didn’t cut off bus routes, and have missing schedules.

  6. There needs to be more police officers and more transit security on buses and rail NOT ambassadors

    • MTA should have their own Police Department. They should help the homeless, off their property. The should arrest people for committing crimes and be able to deal with dangerous people.
      It is not that hard.

  7. Metro sucks. Period.
    They only care about taxpayer money.
    This is why they filter comments.
    Huh Steve. Can’t face the truth huh.
    Come on post the comments.
    Stop blocking our 1st ammendment right to freedom of speech, before a lawsuit against metro is headed your way.

  8. I hope this program will help to clean up the system and make passengers feel welcome and safe to ride the system once again.

  9. So they’ll get paid more than the operators?

    What about Karla Aleman, when will she receive disability awareness training and compassion customer service training? Because I Think Caring Helps, not like she does.