Frontline Workers At LA’s Transit System Speak Out

( – Those who are working at the frontline of LA’s transit system see things every single day that many may tend to miss.

Gilberto Morales has been working at the Los Angeles Metro where he administered Narcan to someone who was overdosing, offered a listening ear to those going through mental health struggles, and helped those who have fallen off train platforms. Although these instances aren’t what he deals with on a daily basis, he’s been able to help some people along the way as a transit worker.

Morales is one of over three hundred ambassadors who work in the transit system to offer help to people passing through. This program was launched at the end of 2022 during the pandemic. The pandemic caused multiple issues across transit systems, including LA, and the system had trouble reviving itself after crime and homelessness became an ongoing issue. They were looking for an alternative to law enforcement that could keep people safe when traveling.

The system has served over one million riders and has been able to save over two hundred lives as well. Surveys showed that over sixty percent of passengers reported feeling more safe when they see these ambassadors, and the program has been praised by local activists.

The success of this program would play a key role in optimizing safety for public transportation, especially in a car-dependent city. If the Metro can gain an effective approach then it could be used in other places such as New York, where the violence and crime rate for public transportation has fueled fear.

Morales spoke out about his role as an ambassador and what he loves about it, saying, “I like helping people.” He continued, “We are customer service, we help with directions and everything, giving them different resources that we have in the system.”

Morales and his colleague Richard Nguyen work together on the Metro, and they have worked on helping riders, directing them, surveying the walls for graffiti, and doing everything else in between to ensure each rider has a safe trip.

Karen Parks, Metro’s senior director of special projects is the one who is overseeing this project. Says Parks, “We wanted a care-based uniform presence with lived experience to represent the ridership that rides our system.”

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