Metro Transit TRIP Agents begin riding light-rail vehicles on Blue and Green lines to assist riders

Feb. 23, 2024
TRIP Agents duties include inspecting fares and issuing administrative citations for fare non-payment, educating riders about illegal activities while riding and providing information about routes and schedules.

As part of Metro Transit’s Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP), a new team of TRIP Agents began traveling on Metro Transit light-rail vehicles on the Blue and Green lines to help assist riders.  

“The light-rail lines are a key part of our transit system in the metro, whether you’re using them for a daily commute or as part of your journey to a concert or a sporting event, but they need to be better. We listened to Minnesotans last session and ensured safety is at the forefront of our efforts to improve these lines,” said state Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-54A), who serves as vice chair of the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “We’re making progress and this next phase in our transit safety plan will continue to build a better riding experience for Minnesotans.” 

Duties assigned to TRIP Agents who will ride the Green and Blue lines include: 

  • Inspecting fares and issuing administrative citations for fare non-payment. 
  • Educating riders about “Your Role As a Rider,” which outlines illegal activities like smoking and behaviors that violate Metro Transit’s Code of Conduct, such as playing loud music. 
  • Providing information about routes and schedules. 
  • Sharing information about social service programs. 
  • Administering first aid and Narcan.  

Through a contract with Allied Universal, 24 TRIP Agents will be assigned to light rail daily. Plans to expand the team are in the works. 

TRIP Agents will work from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and will be identifiable by their royal blue uniforms. Metro Transit notes the TRIP Agents will have radios they can use to contact emergency dispatchers and be trained in de-escalation techniques. 

“Having a visible, official presence on transit is at the center of our efforts to provide a safe, welcoming system so these TRIP Agents are a welcome addition to the many other layers of presence that exist already,” said Metro Transit General Manager Lesley Kandaras. 

Metro Transit police officers and Community Service Officers (CSOs), supplemental security officers and representatives from 10 community-based organizations are also present on vehicles and at stations. 

For the next several weeks, TRIP Agents will ride alongside CSOs, who have been inspecting fares and issuing administrative citations since Dec. 4, 2023. In spring 2024, CSOs will transition to bus rapid transit lines to perform similar duties. 

Administrative citation program off to a strong start 

Since December, CSOs have completed more than 14,000 fare inspections and issued more than 950 administrative citations. Fines for fare non-payment start at $35 and can be waived or reduced in a variety of ways. 

“Fundamentally, we want people to pay their fares, not fines,” Kandaras said. “We are encouraged by what we’ve seen thus far, including a growing interest in fare programs that lower costs for eligible riders.” 

Income-qualified riders can access reduced, $1 fares through the Transit Assistance Program (TAP).  

Until a 2023 change in Minnesota state law, only police officers could issue citations for fare non-payment. Metro Transit says that under the old law, the misdemeanor citations rarely resulted in paid fines. 

Broad public safety efforts advancing 

The introduction of TRIP Agents is one of more than 40 actions advancing through the Metro Transit Safety & Security Action Plan. Other recent actions that have been taken include: 

  • Prominently posting “Your Role As a Rider” signs at stations outlining prohibited and illegal behaviors that will not be accepted on transit. As one way of reinforcing that smoking is illegal and not allowed on transit, announcements featuring children’s voices are now being played at stations and on light-rail vehicles. 
  • The start of a national recruitment campaign for the Metro Transit Police Department and a new program that provides CSO candidates tuition reimbursement and other support. 
  • Coordinated, onboard outreach efforts supported by 10 community-based organizations contracted through the Transit Service Intervention Project. More than 700 contacts and 350 referrals have been made since the program began. 
  • The introduction of supplemental security officers at several busy boarding areas, including the Lake Street/Midtown Station. 

Metro Transit notes conditions on transit remain challenging in some locations. However, ridership grew 16 percent from 2022 to 2023 while reported crime on transit dropped 25 percent from the first to last quarter of 2023. 

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.

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Aug. 27, 2015