From General Manager Wes Kooistra and Interim Chief Rick Grates
Earlier this summer, we laid out our plans to improve conditions on our transit system, better support frontline transit workers, and strengthen our relationships with our customers and partners.
Many of the actions identified in our Safety & Security Action Plan are still taking shape. But we are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in just the few months since this plan was put forward. Since the plan was endorsed by the Metropolitan Council in June we have:
- Increased police officer wages, making the Metro Transit Police Department a more attractive place to work.
- Brought contracted security officers to the Franklin Avenue Station and refreshed the station with new paint and shelter glass.
- Reintroduced a training program that helps bus and train operators respond more effectively and empathetically when conflicts arise.
- Created more opportunities for police, operators, and other frontline staff to interact.
And we are seeing some positive results. We recently swore in our largest class of new police officers since the start of the pandemic and conditions at the Franklin Avenue Station have notably improved.
But we have more work to do. To fully realize the vision put forward in the Safety & Security Action Plan, we must continue to recruit and hire police officers and Community Service Officers and explore other ways of expanding our official presence on transit.
We hope to soon bring security officers to the Lake Street/Midtown Station and are developing a plan to put more staff ambassadors out on the system to offer help and serve as additional eyes and ears.
We are also looking to expand our use of real-time cameras, to improve how we support and communicate with staff after critical incidents, and to formalize relationships with partners who have the resources and expertise to serve vulnerable populations and youth.
Many of the actions we’re taking will lead us to ask new questions and to adapt as we learn more.
For example, after primarily using two-car trains for about a month, we asked customers whether they felt safer on the train, if the vehicles or seemed cleaner, and if they saw officers more often than before. In a survey, we found that respondents generally did not think two-car trains made a large difference. Moving forward, we will selectively use two-car trains when we know there will be fewer riders and less capacity is needed.
This example reflects our interest in hearing from customers, staff, and partners as this conversation continues. We plan to more regularly ask for feedback moving forward and we invite you to share your thoughts at any time by calling or sending an email to email@example.com.
And we will be regularly reporting back on the progress were making. To learn more about our current state, we invite you to review our first Safety & Security Action Plan progress report. Progress reports like this will be shared every quarter moving forward.
Thank you again to all the riders, staff and partners who are supporting us in this work and who are participating in this important conversation. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time, and we are excited about what lies ahead.