Transit safety updates from STM and Metro Transit in the Twin Cities

May 5, 2023
STM is launching new efforts to address security and maintenance on its system while Metro Transit provides an update to its Safety & Security Action Plan.

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and Metro Transit in Minnesota outlined efforts each agency is taking to improve the customer and employee experience by enhancing safety on their systems.

Both STM and Metro Transit report they are facing growing challenges with social issues. Their programs are designed to increase the visibility of staff and ultimately ensure riders and employees feel their safety is a priority while using transit.


STM is introducing new measures aimed at security and maintenance on its system and will appropriately address aspects of the travel and work experience for STM riders and employees. The agency plans to hire an additional 60 positions among various departments to support its efforts.

“Although the Montréal Métro is safe, we must act in the face of social issues that are increasingly present on our network,” said Marie-Claude Léonard, CEO of the STM. “These measures are designed to increase the visibility of staff, keep stations clean, adequately protect critical locations and strengthen the STM’s ability to intervene. To this end, in addition to increasing the number of staff in key positions, we are thinking outside the box and creating a new team of safety ambassadors, a first in the history of the Montréal Métro.”

STM will increase the visibility of staff on its system with the creation of safety ambassadors and increasing the number of special constables on its premises. A team of 20 safety ambassadors will undergo 80 hours of training to prepare them for a variety of situations – from identifying safety issues to providing customer assistance – that they may encounter during their duties. The ambassadors will don a special uniform and will begin to work throughout the system in the summer of 2023.

In addition to the ambassadors, 20 constables will be hired and trained between 2023 and 2024. STM says the increase in constables will enable it to manage its workforce to increase its presence in key areas in partnership with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal and strengthen its capacity to intervene across the network.

STM and its partners have been providing additional support to vulnerable people as part of its winter plan. The agency’s targeted improvements as part of this plan have already increased the number of constables in problem areas, such as Berri-UQAM, and improved monitoring with the installation of cameras throughout the network.

Another 20 new positions will be filled in STM’s custodial department to assist in keeping Metro stations clean. STM says the changing profile of people passing through or seeking refuge on the network requires an increase in custodial work. The new hires, with support of the new constables, will be able to perform their jobs more efficiently with special focus given to “problematic stations”, including downtown and at specific times of day.

“Our customers and employees must feel absolutely safe on our transit network,” said Éric Alan Caldwell, chair of the STM Board of Directors. “We are confident the measures announced today will help make a difference, but we need to do more, and we are committed to doing so together with our partners and key community stakeholders. This comprehensive, concerted approach is needed to tackle the root causes of the problems and not just the symptoms.”

Metro Transit

Metro Transit provided a Quarter 1 2023 update on its Safety & Security Action Plan, which was launched last year to make transit feel safer and more welcoming. Out of the 40 action items identified in the plan, 17 have been implemented, 14 are in progress, eight are in planning and one is complete.

In a blog post outlining the progress, Metro Transit highlighted recent developments including:

  • Executing a contract that will bring supplemental security to up to six locations beginning this spring.
  • Increasing staffing in Metro Transit’s Real Time Information Center, so the agency can monitor live camera feeds seven days a week.
  • Expanding its police presence on trains and at locations with ongoing concerns, such as the Lake Street/Midtown Station.
  • Contracting with organizations such as A Mother’s Love and Radias Health, whose staff can help connect people to services.
Metro Transit data shows an increase in Group A crimes during the first quarter of 2023. These include destruction, damage and vandalism of property, simple assault and a group of “other” crimes that address drugs and drug equipment, as well as fare evasion. Metro Transit reports the increase in Group A crimes, particularly among crimes classified as “other,” is the result of proactive policing addressing these issues.

Also seeing an increase in the first quarter was code of conduct violations, which Metro Transit says is related to the utilization of special details and overtime that address code of conduct issues resulting in an uptick of drug-related violations.

Metro Transit’s data also shows an increase of Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) officers who were onboard Green and Blue Line trains because of focused efforts on the light-rail system using overtime.

Metro Transit’s Interim General Manager Lesley Kandaras and Chief Ernest Morales III explain MTPD is stretched thin, and the progress made is possible because officers are working longer hours. The agency has increased wages for officers to rebuild MTPD ranks, and the agency is seeking to expand partnerships with service providers to address issues beyond the scope of what transit can handle.

“We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made and are hopeful further improvements will be coming soon. We also know we are still a long way from where we need to be,” said Kandaras and Chief Morales. “We remain committed to hearing from our riders, staff and partners whose input has always been essential to this work.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.