Metro Transit deploys new agents to address safety concerns on light rail

Metro Transit officials recognize a lot needs to be done to make riders feel safer on the light rail. Officials rolled out another safety initiative Thursday in an effort to increase safety and ridership.

Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) agents will ride the METRO green and blue lines alongside riders. They will be enforcing rules and also getting riders the help they may need. Light rail riders told FOX 9 they already noticed the agents, who wear royal blue uniforms, on Thursday.

"They were on there talking to people," said Tony Allen, a rider from south Minneapolis.

The agents are meant to establish relationships with riders and also to address the problems they see. Twenty-four agents will be assigned to the light rail each day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The agents will ask riders not to smoke or be disruptive by playing loud music. They'll also inspect fares, issue citations and administer Narcan, if need be.

"We know that transit is a magnet for folks who are experiencing homelessness, experiencing addiction and other issues, and mental illness and those kinds of things. And so [the agents are] there to help get people the services they need," said Rep. Brad Tabke, DFL-Shakopee.

Tabke feels the efforts to improve the light rail experience have made a difference, although he said there is still work to be done.

"It's very much showing a positive trajectory on things, and we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to provide a safe, efficient ride for everybody who needs it," Tabke said.

Alice Martin, a rider from St. Paul said she has noticed some of the safety improvements Metro Transit has made in the last year, although she feels it's not been consistent across the system.

"You see more of it down by the university... Police coming on to check tickets and just like hovering around," Martin said.

For the next few weeks, TRIP agents will ride alongside community service officers, or CSOs. This spring, the CSOs will transition to the Bus Rapid Transit lines.