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Transportation and Mobility

Metro Is Sending Help For Riders In The Form Of 300 Ambassadors

A black Metro subway train with yellow trim approaches the platform as three people wait. Two of them are wearing yellow and orange safety vests. The other is a woman wearing a white baseball cap with a black bag slung over one shoulder. The bag bears the word "Metro" and the organization's signature capital "M" in a white circle.
The Metro K Line opens to the public in Los Angeles on Oct. 7, 2022.
(Raquel Natalicchio
for LAist)
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Metro is launching a pilot program that's assigning roughly 300 new unarmed transit ambassadors to ride the agency's buses and trains to help riders navigate the system safely. They'll be there seven days a week, from early morning until 10 p.m., according to the agency.

Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero said the ambassadors can serve as extra eyes and ears around the system.

"They can report maintenance issues, cleanliness issues and even safety concerns directly to the appropriate Metro departments for expedited response," he said.

Safety concerns

There have been 21 deaths on Metro's trains and buses this year. Gina Osborn, Metro's chief safety officer, said most were due to overdoses. She also presented data showing a 99% increase in complaints from passengers possessing or using drugs on buses, trains and platforms on Feb. 23.

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Metro said its rail boardings are at 62% of pre-pandemic levels, and bus ridership is at 71%. On March 1, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $54 million extension for the Los Angeles Police Department to provide transit policing services on Metro, despite objections from activists. Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez said the extension covers just 236 officers for six months.

What's next

Sotero said the ambassadors will not be replacing existing security staff or law enforcement, but they will help riders get where they're going, help calm down disputes and maybe even convince Angelenos that public transit is easy and safe. He added that said the ambassador pilot program is one of the country's most extensive, if not the largest, ambassador programs. It's funded for up to five years.

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