WMATA launches initiatives to increase customer safety across transit network

Posted: 26 September 2022 | | No comments yet

In collaboration with Metro Transit Police, WMATA is launching a series of public safety initiatives to strengthen customer safety, including more officers throughout the Metrobus and Metrorail system and new Crisis Intervention Specialists.

WMATA launches initiatives to increase customer safety across transit network

Credit: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has announced that it is launching several public safety initiatives in order to strengthen and support customer safety and community service for those who use its transit system.

As part of this, Metro Transit Police (MTPD) has strategically increased officer availability to be more visible throughout the Metrobus and Metrorail system to offer customers additional support. Officers are riding trains and buses in intervals throughout the day as part of the new safety patrol operation ‘HelpingHands’.

“We’ve been listening to customers over the past two months, and it’s clear that a better, safer customer experience is paramount to rebuilding ridership and customer trust,” said WMATA GM and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. “The steps we are taking are part of a larger framework that enhances the work MTPD is already implementing to improve Metro daily.”

In the coming months, WMATA will hire several Crisis Intervention Specialists trained in mental health awareness and de-escalation methods. They will be paired with an MTPD officer or Operating staff to respond to customers with mental health disorders, intellectual or developmental disabilities.

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Since the pandemic, MTPD has seen a 40 per cent increase in people in need of mental health assistance. While officers are there to aid the public, they are not trained mental health experts. These new civilian roles will work with MTPD and Operating staff to provide the appropriate crisis response and community resources.

In addition, WMATA will also implement a new Customer Experience Liaison (CXL) outreach programme to enhance staff visibility in stations and to make Metrobus and Metrorail an easy and seamless experience. CXL staff will wear easily identifiable uniforms and be in Metrorail stations and at Metrobus transit centres throughout the system. Their support will be particularly valuable during special events and service disruptions.

In early 2022, WMATA launched a campaign to better educate the public on the steps they could take to enhance personal safety while using transit. Furthermore, WMATA is also monitoring cameras across the system, with more than 8,000 cameras on buses, trains and in stations. The use of video monitors will also be expanded to show customers entering buses and rail stations faregates in real-time.