When it comes to customer service and safety, partnerships between transit agencies and other community organizations can be a very valuable asset to meet those needs.
The Delaware Transit Corp. (DART) is the latest agency to seize onto such a partnership to address these issues by partnering with Downtown Visions, the business improvement district in downtown Wilmington, Del., to have safety ambassadors ride on the downtown trolley.
“There are not a lot of safety concerns in downtown Wilmington, but we’re on the preventative side of things,” said Mike Maggatti, director of operations for Downtown Visions. “We like to think of Downtown Visions as that nosey neighbor…who’s always out there and isn’t afraid to intervene or report things.”
Maggatti said Downtown Visions started the safety ambassador program several years ago in an effort to assist people from outside the area find their way around and have someone there to answer questions people may have. Despite their name, he said they’re more of a concierge for the area, but they do keep on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Maggatti said the idea of having the ambassadors riding the downtown trolley came and DART leaders were receptive, so the partnership was able to get going Sept. 3. The ambassadors are currently riding the trolley during lunch hours, but Maggatti said Downtown Visions plans to have them eventually riding all day at different times.
“We are excited to partner with Downtown Visions to offer personally-delivered information on downtown attractions, as well as provide an additional safety measure to our riders,” DTC CEO Lauren Skiver stated in a press release. “We look forward to our continued partnership".
Maggatti said safety has never been a concern on the trolley, so the intent is more on providing information to riders, especially those from out of town.
DART spokesperson Julie Theyerl said the ambassadors will ride the trolley for free and assist riders, however, they will not intervene in the event of an incident and drivers will follow standard safety protocol.
“The operators’ main focus will be on driving safely and answering questions when they can,” she said. “The ambassador riders will be there to help them and try to intercept some of those questions.”
Maggatti said right now the partnership is still working out the early bugs, but the organization is continuing to look for other partnerships to help in the downtown region, such as a civilian parking checker organization, adding another set of eyes on the area to look for things.
One of the things at Downtown Visions is we see safety and the perception of safety as more than a police effort,” he said. “We’re looking for partners all the time.”