You deserve a safe ride on Metro: here’s what we are doing to keep you safe and informed

If you read the news, you know that there is one issue on our system that looms larger than anything else –– public safety. We hear you. We understand the stakes. Project milestones and ridership numbers don’t mean anything if we can’t keep our riders and employees safe. As a public agency, it’s our responsibility to keep you informed about everything we are doing to address your safety concerns on our system.  

We also know that safety is a complex issue. There’s no panacea or one-stop solution. Tackling it requires communication, collaboration, testing, and iteration on multiple fronts. That’s why the plan you’ll find below has many different components –– from staffing to station design to partnerships that reach across cities and regions. Read on to learn more.  

Keeping our employees and customers safe (and ensure they feel safe, too)  

The past few months have been challenging. While overall crime levels on our system have been trending downwards, several high-profile incidents have demonstrated how much more work we have to do. No act of violence of any kind is acceptable on Metro. This is why we’ve taken a number of immediate actions to improve public safety on the system. 

  • Increased staffing: People generally feel safer when other people are nearby. That’s why we’re increasing the presence of visible, uniformed personnel on our system: security and contracted law enforcement at stations and on vehicles, as well as unarmed staff who can de-escalate situations and step in to help. Since May 15, we’ve launched a 20% surge of Metro-controlled public safety personnel on our system. Expect to see more Metro Transit Security Officers (TSOs), who patrol the system, enforce our Code of Conduct, and ensure that everyone who rides has paid their fare, as well as Metro Ambassadors, who help riders navigate the system, connect them to resources, and report issues they see. Read more about the Ambassadors here.  
  • Design improvements: In addition to increasing the staff deployed on our system, we are also enhancing our stations and vehicles to make them safer for both riders and employees. This past April, our board approved an emergency procurement to retrofit all our buses with full-length, high-visibility, shatter-resistant plexiglass barriers, protecting them from potential altercations. As of the end of May, 21 barriers have been installed and deployed. We’re currently installing 50 more with materials we received last week. By the end of this month, we expect to have 250 barriers installed, and we’ll be receiving new materials every other week until we have enough for the entire fleet. As many cities across the country grapple with operator assaults, we’re proud to be the first transit agency in the nation to undertake such an ambitious retrofit.  
  • Station experience improvements: Have you visited Westlake/MacArthur Park, Pershing Square, or Civic Center stations lately? You’ll hear classical music that, albeit soothing in small doses, is likely not what you want to hear for eight hours on end. It’s an improvement designed to discourage loitering, and it’s been receiving highly positive reviews from riders. You’ll notice that many stations are brighter, too. All 16 of our B/D Line stations now sport shiny new LEDs instead of the old fluorescent lights.  
  • Enhanced cell phone service: While your phone should work without an issue on most of our system, we know that “most” isn’t good enough. There are several zones where we’re working closely with our provider to accelerate underground cellular service. Our stations on the K Line and adjacent track sections –– Leimert Park, MLK Jr, and Expo/Crenshaw –– are expected to have service by the end of this calendar year. The downtown Regional Connector stations and their adjacent track sections should have service by early 2025.  
  • Emergency phones and intercoms: Cell phones aren’t the only way you can report issues on our system. Our stations are equipped with emergency phones in platform areas and passenger phones in the mezzanines. There are telephones inside the elevators that provide direct lines to Metro staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re on a train during an emergency, there are emergency buttons in the passenger compartment of every car that will connect you to the operator.  And our Metro Ambassadors have direct lines to Metro Security. 

Of course, we want your help, too! If you see something on your journey, please report it using our Transit Watch app –– a quick, easy and anonymous way for you to directly connect to Metro Security anytime. If it’s an emergency, please call 911!  

Ensure the system is being used only for its intended purpose: transit 

We know that our system is safer when everyone is using it for the same purpose –– transportation. Unfortunately, the disruptions of the pandemic combined with staffing deficiencies have led to unprecedented levels of fare evasion. To change that, we’ve deployed more Transit Security Officers (TSOs) across the system to identify and remove trespassers, and we’re coordinating with our contracted law enforcement to do the same. We are also testing several enforcement strategies in order to measure their efficacy and potentially roll out across the system.  

  • On May 28, we launched a pilot program at the North Hollywood B Line station fare gates. Riders are required to tap OUT as well as tap IN. It’s a common feature in other major transit systems across the nation, and it has received positive feedback from riders since it launched. We will monitor this program closely over the next few months in order to determine if we will implement it at other stations in our system. Stay tuned.  
  • This isn’t the only program we’ve been piloting at the North Hollywood station. Since May 20, we’ve been keeping the doors to the train cars at the station closed until one minute before the train is set to depart. Why? We’re making a concerted effort to offload and clear each train when it reaches the end of the line, ensuring that everyone is using the cars for transportation.   
  • As we test keeping rail car doors closed, we are simultaneously making changes to our elevator doors –– keeping them open until someone needs to use them. Our ‘Elevator Open Door Pilot’ launched on April 18 at Little Tokyo/Arts District station, which we implemented at Historic Broadway and Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill on May 14. The reason for this is that we’ve received too many reports of vandalism, graffiti, smoking, urination, and drug use in the elevators, which, being enclosed spaces, have become targets for illegal activity. Keeping the doors open ensures that they remain safe, clean, and accessible for the riders who need to use them. Added bonus: riders with bikes and strollers are finding the open elevators easier to operate.  

Addressing the challenges of our time 

As Angelenos, we face complex issues. The overlapping crises of homelessness, untreated mental illness and drug addiction are huge, generational challenges that will take creative collaboration and teamwork to overcome. These crises extend far beyond our 1,447-mile service area, but they’re visible on our system, too. And while we’re a transit agency, not a social services agency, it’s critical to address these issues if we want to provide you with the service that you deserve. To do that, we’re teaming up with our government and community partners to provide smart, effective, and compassionate approaches that benefit all of us. 

  • Homelessness: We’re facing a crisis that is unprecedented in our history. More people – unofficial counts estimate about 1000 every night — are sheltering on our system than ever before. Everyone who pays their fare and abides by our Code of Conduct is entitled to ride, whether or not they are housed, but many of you have told us that seeing people sheltering on the system is distressing. That’s why we’ve ramped up our homeless outreach efforts on the system –– from deploying more outreach teams to launching partnerships to creating programs that provide unhoused individuals job opportunities. The results have been encouraging — we’ve connected more than 1,700 individuals to housing since July 1, 2023. Read more about our homeless outreach efforts here. 
  • Drug addiction: Using illegal drugs of any kind is a crime and is not allowed on Metro. However, that hasn’t prevented individuals from misusing drugs on our system, which have occasionally resulted in overdoses. This is why our Transit Security Officers (TSOs) and Ambassadors have been trained to use NARCAN and CPR. It’s making a difference. Together, they’ve saved more than 200 lives on our system in the past year. We have also arrested over 639 people for narcotics between March 2023 and April 2024.   
  • Mental health: We’re working with the County Department of Mental Health to make their programs and resources easier to access for riders who need help. Moreover, we are ensuring that other teams working on our system, such as our contracted law enforcement partners and TSOs, are trained to handle these types of crises too.  

We’ve said it before, and it still rings true – we want to be your first choice for getting around. But if we want to earn your ride, your safety is where our work begins. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll have more to report, so keep checking The Source for updates. If you have questions, concerns, or feedback, please leave a comment. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.  

 

Categories: Transportation News

17 replies

  1. The plexiglass blisters enveloping drivers is fine for isolating and protecting drivers, but such barriers also prevent or at least hinder, passengers from communicating with the driver, e.g. once I witnessed a man brandishing a knife on a bus, but wanted to communicate this threatening situation to the driver. I did not want to verbalize my concerns to the driver because I feared that the man brandishing the knife may overhear me and assault me.

    I wanted to write a note onto a piece of paper and hand it to the driver, but found it a challenge to do so with a barrier between the driver and myself.

    I urge Metro authorities who plan security measures aboard transit vehicles, to provide barriers that protect drivers, but facilitate necessary interactions between passengers and themselves.

    Thank you.

  2. As one who has taught literacy skills to young children would know, the words “safe” and “secure” are used interchangeably, but have different meanings.

    Shared meaning element, concerns keeping one free from harm.

    Whilst safety means free of unintentional harm, such as from fire, flood, tornadoes or avalanches, security involves keeping one free from intentional harm such as from assault, robbery, rape, war Etc.

    Unfortunately if enough people incorrectly use a word, the incorrect definition applied to it becomes accepted and is incorporated as formal and correct usage.

  3. “ There are several zones where we’re working closely with our provider to accelerate underground cellular service. Our stations on the K Line and adjacent track sections –– Leimert Park, MLK Jr, and Expo/Crenshaw –– are expected to have service by the end of this calendar year.”

    Honest question: Why isn’t this taken into consideration during the design rather waiting until well after post-revenue service to add the infrastructure necessary for cell service?

    Is it safe to assume that the first year of new Purple Line station service is gonna go without cell signal as well?

  4. What exactly does calling a rail operator do? I doubt anything. Are they going to stop the train wherever, get out of their compartment and go to the car with the problem? Doubt it. They just operate the train so don’t count on the rail operator for help.

  5. GM, I’ve enjoyed reading ALL the enhancements, upgrades and changes. The elevators were a BIG problem, but the fact that many were NOT working either( mainly in the Harbor/figu area, and Rosa Park station).
    The only complaint I have is that passengers(seemingly u housed) putting their feet on the seats and sleeping across two seats is not being addressed. Recently and often the EMMBASSITORS see this and do nothing. They’ve just stepped over the out stretched legs, said nothing to the person lying there in soiled blankets. Is this the proper response of the workers?( there were two workers just the other day on the Long Beach train that did this. They were more interested in what was on their phones and chatting with each other. I felt this was unacceptable. I’m a senior and use the trains and busses. I too want to feel safer in my travels. Thank you and have a blessed day and weekend…HALLA

    P.S. what would I have to do to be a worker on the platforms and assist riders that might be lost or confused? I’ve been helpful to many at the aviation platform when they are coming from the airport and trying to get to destinations in Hollywood, downtown or Anaheim. Just asking…HALLA

    • This and them still bring their shopping carts filled with bags blocking up an entire entrance. I’m sorry but to the people out there who are not okay with people selfishly bringing multiple baggages on board but are okay with the homeless bringing in their carts and multiple trash bags blocking up entrances, you are hypocrites.

  6. The components that are implied by the source are vital. The main objective is to enforce and stay consistent with the process. Take in consideration that in a few years Los Angeles Ca. will host the World Cup and the Olympics. With that being stated, the world’s eyes will be on SoCal. There will be various nationalities, potential investors, and government officials that will visit the city, that will most likely use the public transit system to travel to certain venue events. Los Angeles can’t afford to continue to have “Eye sores” or lose potential investments while not addressing the issues that have gotten out of hand. The time is now to start the process of fixing the problems.

  7. Thank you for letting us know about these changes. Simple things with door management and access can be effective deterrents against crime and loitering. Keep up the good work! One thing I’ve noticed is that there is usually more crime/drug use during off peak hours (mid-day, late night) when there are fewer riders onboard. Somehow emptier trains invite people to get away with certain actions that they normally wouldn’t during rush hour.

  8. the same cops you already paid millions to, so they could openly refuse to do the job they were contracted for? have you sued them for that yet? or will you just help them keep the money as a welfare handout to those useless leeches?

  9. I think that by removing people from stations and trains who do not pay a fare, the system will become exponentially safer. And full fare riders (like me) will return to using the system. Currently, I do not ride nor will I let my child ride the subway.

  10. Metro Board members should require contracted law enforcement agencies (LAPD, Sheriffs, LB Police) actually ride the bus/ train they are supposed to police. I saw police riding the train in (quasi) civilian clothes for the first time EVER this week. I have yet to see this on the bus.

    Much of the time, as journalists like Alyssa Walker point out, police park their cruiser car at a train station and sit in the car or stand aimlessly talking to each other. Sometimes they stand on the mezzanine level for the A/E Line at 7th/ Metro.

    Metro spends a vast amount of money on these contracts for police officers to stand around and/or sit in their patrol cars. All officers being paid through a Metro contract need to use those hours to walk through the station entrances, mezzanine, ticketing area, elevators, and platform AND ride the buses/ trains, switching from car to car on the latter.

    Instead of listening to Metro’s own Safety executive, Gina Osborne–that police walked past a dead person on a station platform multiple times over several hours–Metro fired her and kept the police contracts as-is. Status quo, scratch-my-back-so-I-scratch-yours, doesn’t improve passenger safety. We deserve better.

  11. Thank for this well written essay/letter. I am a public transit apologist/supporter and think the crime issue ihas been somewhat overblown, but some recent experiences of mine suggest a loss of control and consequently, the forthcoming loss of faith from the ridership/citizenry. Two short suggestions to stem the tide:

    1) Bus – Repeal All Door Boarding – There are benefits to all door boarding, namely speed, but the fact is, it’s a magnet for fare evasion since it’s so easy to just walk on the bus. There is no way bus driver is going get out of their chair and enforce absent a major issue on this bus. All door boarding can be retained if Metro is willing to have a SECOND employee on the bus for this purpose. But given limited resources, I highly doubt this possible at least at the scale to establish “fear” among the ridership.

    2) Train Stations – Strict prohibited from entering without ticket (re: no loitering). Recently, I saw someone smoking in the Vermont/Wilshire train station (among other behavior adding to “the feel”). Is this the worst thing in the world? No. But it absolutely contributes to a sense of lawlessness that repels new riders and threatens existing ones. My sense is that these people loitering in the stations are fare evaders. They HAVE to go.

    Best of luck with your ongoing safety & improvement efforts.

  12. So we’re adding more law enforcement but still not allowing them to enforce fares or code of conduct? And we wonder why we fail.

  13. I rode the Metrolink to LA Union Station yesterday for the first time in awhile and I saw a notable increased presence of Metro staff at Union Station. I really liked to see that and felt better about my ride and will consider doing it more often because of that. Thank you

  14. Thank you for your increased attention to all this. I am 83 years old and continue to ride the Metro from Chatsworth to destinations such as Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the California Science Center, and other destinations. Sometimes my returns home from these places are near or after midnight. I have never felt threatened, but there is the occasional colorful character which I avoid. Last trip home from The Walt I joked with two LAPD cops at the Civic Center station about how horrid Bach can be when used in that way.

Leave your Reply on The Source