The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors approved a new Transit Ambassador Pilot Program that will provide a dedicated staff of diverse, specially-trained individuals to offer in-person support to Metro Bus and Rail riders.
Metro will launch this new program in the fall.
The pilot program will employ up to 300 transit ambassadors from diverse L.A. County communities who will be specially-trained in customer service and rail and bus safety. Ambassadors will have a presence on the Metro system and help customers find their bus or rail line, purchase their fare, and more.
"This pilot program will be a win-win for our riders and employees when it launches later this year," said Hilda L. Solis, Metro Board chair and Los Angeles County supervisor. "Transit ambassadors on our trains, buses, and at key transit hubs will help riders navigate our system, assist them with fare payments, and quickly address their issues. They will play a critical role in making our system feel welcoming for all and in bringing back ridership."
The Metro Transit Ambassador Program is modeled after others in San Francisco on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system and in Philadelphia on Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) transit system, and received input from the Public Safety Advisory Committee.
The program aims to have ambassadors on the Metro system from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, and during hours to support special events. The ambassadors will be equipped with cell phones and radios to contact appropriate Metro staff for assistance.
Prior to being deployed, all transit 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.
Ambassadors will be supplied under contract for up to five years to Metro by Strive Well-Being Inc., a Small Business Enterprise firm for $27.76 million, and RMI International Inc. (RMI), a Minority Business Enterprise firm for $95.09 million. The total contract value is estimated at $122.8 million.
Metro riders in recent surveys noted they wanted to see more Metro staff riding the system and assisting patrons. The pilot program will be housed with Metro’s Customer Experience Department. As the program evolves, Metro will use customer feedback and other data to refine the program.
"It is our top priority to improve the customer experience – including making sure our riders feel safe," said Stephanie N. Wiggins, Metro CEO. "In the coming months, we expect customers will see a noticeable difference with our transit ambassadors in place. Once they deploy, transit ambassadors will greet riders and help our customers have positive interactions with our system. Ambassadors will also work closely with community-based crisis intervention teams and be able to call dedicated safety personnel when needed quickly. Thank you to the Metro Board of Directors for approving this new program; I look forward to its full deployment."