Best Practices - Creating a Safer, More Secure Ride on Metro Transit in the St. Louis Region

Nov. 19, 2020
St. Louis Metro Transit leaders tie safety and security improvements to collaboration between multiple partners who share the same mission.

St. Louis Metro Transit is making vital progress toward improving safety and security on the main public transportation system serving the St. Louis region. The progress made in recent months is a direct result of unprecedented collaboration between multiple partners who share the same mission to create a safer, more secure transit experience. 

A key milestone in the effort came back in February with the execution of a new joint security agreement signed by top elected officials and police departments from the three key jurisdictions served by the St. Louis Metro Transit system. This is significant because we provide transit service in a 600-square-mile area that includes the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Mo. and St. Clair County, Ill., which means we serve customers in more than 100 different municipalities spread across two states in these three distinct jurisdictions.

It can be challenging to get unanimous buy-in from elected leaders representing the interests of three different jurisdictions along with their three distinct police departments. But when the bi-state region decides to embrace an important project, mountains can be moved. Ultimately, the St. Louis mayor, St. Louis County executive and the St. Clair County Board chairman all signed a new security agreement that outlined the framework for providing our transit riders with a safer, more secure and more comfortable trip on transit. The framework was developed by a third party which used input from several peer transit agencies as part of the assessment process. The agreement was the product of two years of hard work and collaboration between St. Louis Metro Transit, Bi-State Development, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, WSP, St. Louis County, city of St. Louis, St. Clair County and St. Louis Metro’s law enforcement partners at the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

We are now eight months into the implementation phase and are seeing great progress that illustrates our safety and security approach could become a best practice model for other transit systems.

We continue to work closely with our partners to further strengthen regional collaboration, enhance overall security measures on the transit system and regain the confidence of our riders. Our collaborative foundation has focused on industry-best practices, a layered security approach, building a zoned deployment along the MetroLink light-rail alignment with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each component, as well as comprehensive training.

The different security layers consist of contracted security provided by G4S Solutions, St. Louis Metro Transit Public Safety, the three primary law enforcement agencies and a robust secondary off-duty policing program in both Missouri and Illinois.

The most visible security layer to our transit riders is G4S team members. G4S started supplying contracted security guards on April 1 of this year. G4S personnel actively patrol the transit system and are resourced and trained to focus on key components of our security strategy: visibility, positive rider engagement and de-escalation. With decades of security expertise, the G4S in-house leadership team working with our public safety team has been phenomenal, providing a professional approach and holding its security team accountable every day.

St. Louis Metro Transit Security Specialists represent our team members in the public safety department and form the second layer of zoned security deployment. Their role is to support contracted security team members, coordinate with law enforcement partners and prioritize customer engagement, as well as enhancing the positive rider experience. All uniformed and field-deployed St. Louis Metro Transit Security Specialists are equipped with body worn cameras, a tool to help ensure that we are transparent and accountable to our customers and stakeholders.

Our law enforcement partners at the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department assigned to MetroLink comprise the third component of the security platform. They provide an armed, professional law enforcement presence that provides an additional level of comfort for our riders. Additionally, we have entered into Memorandums of Understanding with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Office and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for additional secondary law enforcement visibility and uniformed patrols at key transit locations. We continue to grow the secondary officer pool and are hopeful to achieve this same type of agreement with the St. Louis County Police Department for added secondary patrols on our buses in St. Louis County in the future.

One of our most recently implemented security measures is the Ride and Abide Policy. It gives us the ability to directly address a small number of individuals who refuse to comply with the Passenger Code of Conduct. The Ride and Abide Policy will go a long way toward reducing or eliminating unacceptable behavior by repeat offenders by suspending their transit privileges for anywhere from one day up to one year or even possibly permanent suspension, depending on how serious the offense is.

We’re proud of the progress that has been made over the past year and firmly believe having the right tools, in the hands of the right people, with the right training is working. The most recent security score card created quarterly by WSP shows we are making steady progress with the help of our partners.

If you compare our statistics with other transit systems in North America, we fall in the middle of the pack. We can and need to do better than that. While there are actually very few serious incidents on our system, especially when compared to the number of riders (in the millions) who we move safely every day around the St. Louis region, we want to see even fewer incidents.

We are committed to strengthening the partnerships and strategies that enable us to implement the additional steps in the plan unanimously approved by all partners. Working together, we will deliver the safe, secure and comfortable experience our riders expect and deserve. We are confident we will rebuild the region’s confidence in our transit system.

You can follow our security progress at


Taulby Roach is president and CEO of Bi-State Development, which operates the St. Louis Metro Transit system as one of its enterprises.

About the Author

Taulby Roach | President and Chief Executive Officer

Taulby Roach is the president and CEO of Bi-State Development. As the president and CEO, Roach oversees an organization that is a catalyst for economic growth and development in the St. Louis metropolitan region, with five diverse business enterprises, more than 2,500 employees, an operational budget of $369 million and a three-year capital budget of $726 million. Bi-State Development is able to achieve its mission of improving lives in the bi-state area by delivering innovative regional economic initiatives and public services through its enterprises: Metro Transit, Gateway Arch Riverfront, St. Louis Downtown Airport, St. Louis Regional Freightway, and the Bi-State Development Research Institute.