“Other agencies, with the same goals as ours, have faced similar decisions about how best to size and use their police forces,” Schroeer and Bailey concluded. Crime on light rail, buses was increasing before ridership dropped during pandemic. “If we had a magic wand and could hire all the police in the world, we wouldn’t do it because it’s not what we want downtown Minneapolis to feel like.”. Use it as is "off the shelf," or modify it to meet your specific implementation objectives. Tim Walz continued to advocate for the Met Council, which oversees Metro Transit, to use new funds for transit agents, security cameras and policing. “This is our top legislative priority, and we’ll continue advocating for it as the Legislature convenes this year, and in future sessions.”. By 2023, Metro Transit would hire 90 transit ambassadors. As much of the country experiences spiking virus rates, a reprieve from a devastating surge of the coronavirus in the Upper Midwest has given cautious relief to health officials, though they worry that infections remain rampant and holiday gatherings could reignite the worst outbreaks of the pandemic. ... Metro Transit … Follow him on Twitter or email him at pcallaghan(at)minnpost(dot)com. The Metropolitan Council, which operates Metro Transit, has said only 3% of passengers cited for fare evasion pay the fine. Metro Transit offers a wide variety of … “Nobody really feels a lot safer with a lot of police around,” he said. KOCHI (Metro Rail News): A nine-member delegation comprising French, German and European Union Ambassadors visited Kochi on Saturday. Add a substantial number of non-sworn staff as an important part of creating a safe, comfortable, welcoming experience for all Minnesotans and visitors using transit. In the fall of 2017, the MBTA introduced the Transit Ambassador customer outreach program. The most familiar example of the concept is the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District’s brightly-clad ambassadors, a program that was introduced in 2009. Officials say Dane County has secured a six-month extension of a program linking local growers with food pantries that was set to expire at the end of this year. “Police can police more and the ambassadors can be the eyes and ears of the transit system,” said Will Schroeer, the group’s executive director. While the plan also included increases in traditional law enforcement and enhanced video security, it was less focused on increased police and enforcement than a plan originally put forward by the GOP. Metro Transit staff have penned an open letter to Metropolitan Council leadership demanding action in response to the killing of George Floyd and the series of subsequent protests. Metro Transit's current policy is to issue a warning the first time a rider does not show proof of payment, according to a news release. Peter Callaghan covers state government for MinnPost. Do people who oversee transit security in other cities think they’re a good idea? There to support a plan to authorize the use of non-police staff for fare enforcement on buses and trains operated by Metro Transit, he was asked: Had a civilian response to problems like fare evasion and minor misbehavior on transit worked anywhere else? The study was produced after the COVID-19 crisis had closed large sections of the economy and significantly reduced transit service and ridership but before the homicide of George Floyd, which widely affected public and political attitudes toward policing. To find some answers, the board of East Metro Strong commissioned Schroeer and consultant Mary Kay Bailey, who had been director of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative during the planning and construction of the Green Line, to take a look. Do they replace transit police or assist them? The pair talked to officials responsible for transit security with Seattle-Tacoma-based Sound Transit, San Francisco’s city bus system and the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency (BART). In a letter written by Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in response to concerns about equity raised by transit staff members, transit agents are still envisioned as a means toward increasing security without increasing the inequitable treatment of people of color. Our diverse community and expanding economy depend on us to help get people where they need to be. report, completed in April, offers two recommendations for the Twin Cities. The ambassador concept was part of legislation proposed by both DFLers and some Republicans in the Minnesota House as a response to increased serious crime as well as lesser offenses like fare evasion, fighting, harassment, smoking and amplified music. While the House crafted a compromise before the pandemic, the Republican-controlled Senate “has constantly talked about safety within the cities and on transit but [doesn’t] want to engage in any solutions,” Tabke said. The Metro Transit Police Department partners with two well-respected and established youth services organizations in the Twin Cities, MAD DADS of Minneapolis and the Hallie Q. Tim Walz included the measures in his supplemental budget, along with $3.7 million in funding. A recent study by the transit advocacy organization East Metro Strong explored similar programs in more than a half-dozen metro areas, including San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Denver and Portland, Ore., and found benefits for everyone. That issue, however, did not make the cut for the very limited agenda in a second special session that concluded earlier this week, and a proposal for a small supplemental budget (which didn’t pass anyway) no longer contained money and legal authorization for the program. Non-sworn staff act as force multipliers, deterring and reducing crime by “projecting authority” and by putting more eyes and ears on vehicles and platforms, they found. Besides enforcing fares, they would deal with minor incidents so police can focus on more serious crime. Sometimes the agencies will remind the youth of Metro Transit’s Code of Conduct, in other instances, MAD DADS and A… Transit Ambassadors wear bright red polo shirts, sweaters, or jackets with T logos and can be found at stations throughout the system. It requires a certain set of skills that combine enforcement and social work. “Nobody really feels a lot safer with a lot of police around,” he said. Make a difference with a career at Metro Transit! In a letter written by Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in response to concerns about equity raised by transit staff members, transit agents are still envisioned as a means toward increasing security without increasing the inequitable treatment of people of color. Does using staff who aren’t law enforcement officers — sometimes called transit ambassadors — reduce evasion and behaviors such as smoking and rowdiness on transit? Gov. The Met Council plans to try again. Sixteen former Metro bus drivers are among the first cohort of Ambassadors and are now serving their community in a new way. Metro Transit safety measures pitched at the state Legislature to use unarmed ambassadors languished once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Floyd’s death prompted civil unrest across the country. 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Relph remembered for work on mental health issues, In 2020, facades and monuments keep falling, Unsettling narratives: Advancing genocide education in Minnesota, State plans to suspend liquor licenses of three more restaurants for defying COVID rules. If you believe mobility is an important part of the Indianapolis community, here’s your chance to help IndyGo spread the word and gather feedback about transit services and … Brown Community Ambassadors program. Torrance Transit also invited seniors to take free field trips to some of the places its system went, such as Los Angeles' Union Station and nearby Olvera Street and the local farmer's market. “The need for [ambassadors] on transit is even more now,” said Schroeer. That was before the novel coronavirus put the Legislature and all of state government into pandemic response. Be part of this important work. Does using staff who aren’t law enforcement officers — sometimes called transit ambassadors — reduce evasion and behaviors such as smoking … That includes social workers, mental health professionals and "transit ambassadors." Yet Schroeer said he didn’t think the conclusions would be that different had it been written after Floyd’s death. But they were struck by the consistency of the responses they received from transit agency staffers they spoke with, which often boiled down to: A. dding non-sworn or non-police staff lets police focus on policing. Member donations are crucial to the work of our nonprofit newsroom. Do they replace transit police or assist them? That’s because local prosecutors are loath to pursue cases over an unpaid $2 transit ticket. Add a substantial number of non-sworn staff as an important part of creating a safe, comfortable, welcoming experience for all Minnesotans and visitors using transit. In addition, outreach is extended to communities with access to Metro’s transit system. Backers, in turn, compared them to the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District’s neon-shirted ambassadors who do help tourists but also de-escalate problems and call in city police when needed. MAD DADS and Ambassadors engage with youth on the buses and light-rail trains in an effort to reduce behavior on transit property that can lead to juvenile arrests. Together we can make our region thrive. Crime on light rail, buses was increasing before ridership dropped during pandemic. “People have been extraordinarily cooperative with Metro Transit’s request to not ride if you’re not essential. The March MetroBus service change impacts 48 MetroBus routes in the Bi-State area, and includes the introduction of nine new MetroBus routes. Such personnel is also usually cheaper to hire and train than police officers. Schroeer said his conversations with DID leaders showed that they think the area is safer due to the presence of police and non-police. “Being able to issue citations is something that we don’t do.”. 2. But as we start returning to work and to play, a city only works if a certain number of people are on transit. Following Floyd’s death, Tabke says he isn’t comfortable with the punitive parts of the initial proposal, particularly the clause that bans previous offenders from using public transit. Portland’s transit agency, TriMet, recently announced a series of moves in the wake of Floyd’s death, including reducing six police positions and redirecting $1.8 million to community-based public safety approaches. Months before George Floyd’s death, debate stewed at the Capitol over new ways to deter rising crime on the region’s trains and buses — and it didn’t involve the police. The most familiar example of the concept is the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District’s brightly-clad ambassadors, a program that was introduced in 2009. New riders interested in personalized training in the form of an actual outing on the city bus, can contact Mountain Metro to get connected with an Ambassador. Workplace Commuter Ambassadors Workplace Commute Ambassador Our Workplace Commute Ambassador (WCA) program helps employees in the northwest metro region to encourage their co-workers to choose sustainable transportation options, such as carpooling, riding transit, bicycling, vanpooling, teleworking and walking. “We have to take steps now to help restore public trust and confidence in our transit system,” he said. Still, the issue of security on trains and buses wasn’t going away, nor was the debate over how best to respond. In addition, NJ TRANSIT deployed teams of Customer Service Ambassadors over the summer at several stations and terminals to assist customers returning to the mass transit system. They are equipped to assist customers with information, ticket/gate issues or simply alert appropriate personnel if any other situation should arise. “How do we have an official presence on transit and what jobs do we need done by that official presence and who should do them? Authorities say one man was shot and killed Thursday afternoon after a confrontation at a light rail station in Minneapolis. We’re in this together. “More police alone do not necessarily make a place feel safer,” the report notes. But they were struck by the consistency of the responses they received from transit agency staffers they spoke with, which often boiled down to: Adding non-sworn or non-police staff lets police focus on policing. That issue, however, did not make the cut for the very limited agenda in a second special session that concluded earlier this week, and a proposal for a small supplemental budget (which didn’t pass anyway) no longer contained money and legal authorization for the program. Lawmakers are considering legislation to authorize “transit ambassadors” to monitor buses and trains, check to ensure riders have valid fares, assist customers, and report trouble. The $3.5 million project normally has 75-80 people working the 120-block downtown area in the summer. Sound Transit will change its fare enforcement on light-rail and Sounder commuter trains. “People will feel more comfortable, and ridership would improve.”. The Ambassadors will be answering questions and providing support at Metro’s high-ridership bus stops in downtown Seattle and at Transit Centers in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including Aurora, Burien, Federal Way, Kent, and Tukwila. Metro Transit currently issues a warning the first time a rider is not able to show proof of payment. The eyes-and-ears campaign could also add non-uniformed transit ambassadors, who are now used for customer assistance and crowd control during large events. “Most cops hate checking tickets,” she said. The Met Council plans to try again. as a response to increased serious crime as well as lesser offenses like fare evasion, fighting, harassment, smoking and amplified music. Steve CramerPolice officers, however, are a radio call away if civilian ambassadors get into a situation they can’t safely handle. It was a unique platform created to bring all denizens of Hyderabad to be completely involved with Hyderabad Metro Rail Project. A slimmed-down proposal pitched in June’s special session that decriminalized fare evasion and embraced transit ambassadors foundered. 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The concept of using non-transit police staff on buses and trains was part of legislation proposed by both DFLers and some Republicans in the Minnesota House as a response to increased serious crime as well as lesser offenses like fare evasion, fighting, harassment, smoking and amplified music. “It sounds good, but you may be putting people at risk because you’re asking them to wield certain authority with no support to back it up.”. “There are a lot of really important things in the bill that we need to get done, but we can’t get anywhere,” said Rep. Brad Tabke, DFL-Shakopee, a lead sponsor of the initial measure. Nearly half of secondary students failed a class while in distance learning. Do people who oversee transit security in other cities think they’re a good idea? They also looked at policies in Snohomish County north of Seattle, Dallas, Boston, San Diego, Buffalo, Denver, Philadelphia and Portland. IndyGo is looking for energetic and enthusiastic volunteers to join our Transit Ambassador team. Remember to wear a face covering while you're riding, on a … While the plan also included increases in traditional law enforcement and enhanced video security, it was less focused on increased police and enforcement than a plan originally put forward by the GOP. Turns out ‘ambassadors’ would make Metro Transit trains and buses safer. But that failed, too. “Beginning with the 2019 legislative session, we advocated for the ability to shift away from having only sworn officers checking fares and to create an administrative citation, both the change who is enforcing fares and to reduce both the cost and impact by removing the criminal penalty,” Zelle wrote. “It already came out of a set of questions which we are now asking with renewed and legitimately more urgency,” he said. PATCO Transit Ambassadors. Tim Walz continued to advocate for the Met Council, which oversees Metro Transit, to use new funds for transit agents, security cameras and policing. An annual trek to Mankato to remember tribal members who were executed following the U.S.-Dakota war has been officially canceled due to the coronavirus, although a small group of horseback riders is making the journey anyway. Bitter Minnesota wind chills follow blizzard; 8.7" at MSP, Where are the COVID-19 cases in Minnesota? CUTA's Transit Ambassador program will help your transit system create or expand on a culture of customer service by empowering your employees with skills to better handle the many situations that arise when interacting with a customer. Republican leaders did not respond to several requests for comment last week. “We recommend implementing the lessons they learned: 1. A report commissioned by East Metro Strong found that using non-police staff on buses and trains to deal with fare evasions and minor misbehavior has produced “genuine safety benefits” in other cities around the country. PATCO’s uniformed Transit Ambassadors provide a presence in the stations, parking lots, concourses, and on the trains primarily in the evening hours. He also supports banning transit passengers who don’t pay fines for nonpayment of fares or who commit more serious crimes on buses and trains. “We recommend implementing the lessons they learned: 1. Their report, completed in April, offers two recommendations for the Twin Cities that don’t replace police but supplement them. Here's a look by ZIP code, Dane County extends program linking growers to food pantries, Virus cancels annual Dakota ride, but some headed to Mankato, Experts say experience convinced Midwest of virus dangers, Man killed after argument at Minneapolis light rail station. Tim WalzAfter the homicide of George Floyd, House DFL sponsors dropped their support for any law enforcement response, though Gov. Earlier this year, when Will Schroeer, the executive director of the business and government transit advocacy organization East Metro Strong, was testifying before a Legislative committee, he heard questions he didn’t know the answer to. “We were talking about a different public safety model that’s very much in the news now, shifting tasks not necessarily appropriate for officers,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, noting it is an “important and urgent conversation.”. Senior Ambassadors are currently available to offer one-on-one training to any new rider who is a senior. New fare engagement ambassadors will focus on education … “This is our top legislative priority, and we’ll continue advocating for it as the Legislature convenes this year, and in future sessions.”, The East Metro Strong report authors said they didn’t know what they were going to find when they contacted other cities. By Peter ... Minneapolis police inspector Eddie Frizell and Metro Transit interim chief A.J. MinnPost photo by Peter CallaghanGov. Lawmakers are expected to … The East Metro Strong report authors said they didn’t know what they were going to find when they contacted other cities. Apply to Ambassador, Community Liaison, Practice Manager and more! Senior Ambassador Program Transit ambassadors, support for homeless also part of plan to stem crimes. Schroeer said his conversations with DID leaders showed that they think the area is safer due to the presence of police and non-police. We have a winner! Sandee Ditt, who helps manage the Ambassador program, is the subject of this month's "Inside Sound Transit," our regular feature on the people working to … Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra said, “More investment in social services is absolutely needed, but this should not come at the expense of other important investments in transit safety.”. The best recipes of the 2020 Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest, St. Paul schools pin hopes on in-person return as student grades show wide disparities. 164 Transit Ambassador jobs available on Indeed.com. Schulz does support ambassadors checking passengers for fares, because it would help free up police to work on more serious crimes. Classify fare non-payment as a petty misdemeanor to allow such non-sworn staff to enforce fare policy.”, legislation proposed by both DFLers and some Republicans in the Minnesota House. Such personnel is also usually cheaper to hire and train than police officers. “What are they going to do if and when they’re challenged?” said Schulz, professor emerita at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Tabke worked with Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, on an early proposal that called for the creation of transit ambassadors (or agents, as some call them) and also would have changed fare evasion to an administrative citation with an initial fine of $35, compared with $180 now. The delegation visited Kochi Metro Rail Limited’s Water Metro construction sites, the Operation Command and Control Centre at Muttom and also the Water Metro’s boats being built at the Cochin Shipyard. Does using staff who aren’t law enforcement officers — sometimes called transit ambassadors — reduce evasion and behaviors such as smoking and rowdiness on transit? Eight of our favorites: Minnesota teams and athletes send holiday greetings. Now the future of the transit safety initiatives in the Twin Cities is unclear. After the homicide of George Floyd, House DFL sponsors dropped their support for any law enforcement response, though Gov. Transit ridership dropped precipitously when the pandemic hit, but before then, crime continued to rise on Twin Cities trains and buses. “We were struck by the consistency of what we heard from security personnel across the country and its consistency with findings from earlier national research on best practices.”. IndyGo Transit Ambassadors. “Beginning with the 2019 legislative session, we advocated for the ability to shift away from having only sworn officers checking fares and to create an administrative citation, both the change who is enforcing fares and to reduce both the cost and impact by removing the criminal penalty,” Zelle wrote. Earlier this month, state lawmakers filed a bill that would enlist uniformed ambassadors to be the "eyes and ears" aboard transit vehicles and change how fare evasion is penalized. “That role is more robust in terms of the responsibilities,” Cramer said. All Sound Transit employees will be serving as ambassadors during Connect 2020, which starts Jan. 4. But the Metro Transit safety measures pitched at the Legislature, a microcosm of the broader discussion, languished once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Floyd’s death prompted civil unrest across the country. Unlike what Metro Transit might be planning, however, they have no enforcement authority. Will SchroeerThere to support a plan to authorize the use of non-police staff for fare enforcement on buses and trains operated by Metro Transit, he was asked: Had a civilian response to problems like fare evasion and minor misbehavior on transit worked anywhere else? that don’t replace police but supplement them. “More police alone do not necessarily make a place feel safer,” the report notes. 2. MCE’s programs enhance transit safety through informative and site-specific presentations, Rail Safety Orientation Tours, participation at community events, deployment of Rail Safety Ambassadors, and outreach to the older adult community. MinnPost | P.O. Some in the GOP teased that transit ambassadors were a touchy-feely response to public safety, comparing them to train conductors who handed out maps and gave riding tips to tourists rather than enforcers of the law. Starting on February 29, Metro employee ambassadors be stationed at various Metro transit centers to help prepare passengers for the March 14 service change. Using civilians to aid or even replace law enforcement is an experiment that Minneapolis and cities nationwide are considering following Floyd’s killing by police. “That no longer fits where we are in our history,” he said. Non-sworn staff act as force multipliers, deterring and reducing crime by “projecting authority” and by putting more eyes and ears on vehicles and platforms, they found. That includes examining ways to scale back policing in favor of social workers and mental health professionals, as well as unarmed "transit ambassadors," … The most prominent idea involved deploying unarmed ambassadors to collect fares, connect passengers experiencing homelessness or mental illness with social services, and tamp down smoking and drinking aboard Metro Transit vehicles. Koznick favors stepped-up monitoring of light-rail trains and stations, with live-feed security cameras and public address systems to suss out crimes in real time. Steve Cramer, the president and CEO of Minneapolis Downtown Council, which runs the Downtown Improvement District, said the association is pleased with the campaign and has renewed its contract with the company that hires, trains and manages the ambassadors. Classify fare non-payment as a petty misdemeanor to allow such non-sworn staff to enforce fare policy.”. All MetroLink tickets and 2-hour passes will have to be validated by customers prior to boarding the train starting January 7, 2013. The ambassadors are equipped only with a radio and are trained to help tourists as well as direct people toward mental health and homeless services. “If we had a magic wand and could hire all the police in the world, we wouldn’t do it because it’s not what we want downtown Minneapolis to feel like.”. Less serious crimes, such as fraud and vandalism, increased 105% in January and 88% in February. Box 18438 | Minneapolis, MN 55418 | 612.455.6950. The New Year will bring an important, new change for Metro Transit customers. “We were struck by the consistency of what we heard from security personnel across the country and its consistency with findings from earlier national research on best practices.”. A Metro Transit Green Line train arrives at Hamline Avenue Station on April 17, 2019. Serious crime, including theft, robbery and aggravated assault, increased 27% in January and 13% in February, when compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by Metro Transit. Police officers, however, are a radio call away if civilian ambassadors get into a situation they can’t safely handle. The Hyderabad Metro Rail – Brand Ambassadors Campaign was conceptualized and promoted by L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited. The experience left supporters frustrated, but even more determined to keep trying — perhaps next year. If transit safety initiatives fail during the Legislature’s current special session, supporters said they’ll try again in 2021, but there may be more disagreement. You can also learn about all our free newsletter options. Metro Transit ambassadors, other safety measures languish at Capitol. What we heard from these other agencies was: We should have police on transit — there is a need for that and a role for that — and there are also other jobs that don’t need police to do them and are better done by people who are not police,” he said. Dorothy Schulz, a retired captain of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Police Department in New York, said she’s “not a great believer” in the concept of unarmed transit ambassadors. As part of the trip, the senior ambassadors would also give a presentation about the agency and program. This program is very flexible and customizable. “We learned that it was not a feel-good (response), that it had genuine safety benefits for all kinds of good reasons,” Schroeer said. A safe transit system, Koznick said, is even more critical to passengers and small businesses in neighborhoods damaged during protests. Why doesn't Minnesota charge a sales tax on clothing? “Other agencies, with the same goals as ours, have faced similar decisions about how best to size and use their police forces,” Schroeer and Bailey concluded. The notion of unarmed ambassadors patrolling a transit system to promote safety has been tried in other places. To keep up that effort and launch a new force of transit ambassadors, Metro Transit will need a so-far-undetermined budget boost from the Legislature. Thank you to Citizens for Modern Transit, St. Clair County Transit District, St. Louis County Police Department and our Metro Transit Ambassadors for greeting riders and handing out masks today! 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