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Rider's Almanac Blog

Expanded on-board presence coming to Metro Transit’s light rail lines

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, February 22, 2024 8:30:00 AM

Trip Agents

As another step in the continued effort to improve the transit experience, a new team dedicated to assisting riders will begin traveling on light rail vehicles on Friday, Feb. 23.

Duties assigned to Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) Agents who will ride the METRO Green and Blue lines include:

  • Inspecting fares and issuing administrative citations for fare non-payment
  • Educating riders about “Your Role As a Rider,” which outlines illegal activities like smoking and behaviors that violate Metro Transit’s Code of Conduct, such as playing loud music
  • Providing information about routes and schedules
  • Sharing information about social service programs
  • Administering first aid and Narcan 

Through a contract with Allied Universal, 24 TRIP Agents will be assigned to light rail each day. Plans to expand the team are in the works.

TRIP Agents will work from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and will be identifiable by their royal blue uniforms. They will have radios they can use to contact emergency dispatchers and be trained in de-escalation techniques.

“Having a visible, official presence on transit is at the center of our efforts to provide a safe, welcoming system, so these TRIP Agents are a welcome addition to the many other layers of presence that exist already,” General Manager Lesley Kandaras said.

Metro Transit police officers and Community Service Officers (CSOs), supplemental security officers, and representatives from 10 community-based organizations are also present on vehicles and at stations.

For the next several weeks, TRIP Agents will ride alongside CSOs who have been inspecting fares and issuing administrative citations since Dec. 4, 2024. This spring, CSOs will transition to Bus Rapid Transit lines to perform similar duties.

Administrative citation program off to a strong start

Since December, CSOs have completed more than 14,000 fare inspections and issued more than 950 administrative citations. Fines for fare non-payment start at $35 and can be waived or reduced in a variety of ways.

“Fundamentally, we want people to pay their fares not fines,” Kandaras said. “We are encouraged by what we’ve seen thus far, including a growing interest in fare programs that lower costs for eligible riders.”

Income-qualified riders can access reduced, $1 fares through the Transit Assistance Program (TAP), which will be promoted throughout the year through in-person events, marketing efforts and with the help of community partners. 

Until a 2023 change in state law, only police officers could issue citations for fare non-payment. These misdemeanor citations rarely resulted in paid fines.

Broad public safety efforts advancing

The introduction of TRIP Agents is one of more than 40 actions advancing through the Safety & Security Action Plan. Other recent actions that have been taken include:

  • Prominently posting “Your Role As a Rider” signs at stations outlining prohibited and illegal behaviors that will not be accepted on transit. As one way of reinforcing that smoking is illegal and not allowed on transit, announcements featuring children’s voices are now being played at stations and on light rail vehicles.
  • The start of a national recruitment campaign for the Metro Transit Police Department and a new program that provides CSO candidates tuition reimbursement and other support.
  • Coordinated, onboard outreach efforts supported by 10 community-based organizations contracted through the Transit Service Intervention Project. More than 700 contacts and 350 referrals have been made since the program began.
  • The introduction of supplemental security officers at several busy boarding areas, including the Lake Street/Midtown Station.

Conditions on transit remain challenging in some locations. But there are indications things are moving in the right direction: Ridership grew 16% from 2022 to 2023 while reported crime on transit dropped 25% from the first to last quarter of 2023.

Contact: Drew Kerr, [email protected], 651-387-3928