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Metro Los Angeles officials and Mayor Bass discuss public safety, construction projects at annual “State of the Agency” address

Efforts to curb increased violence on Metro buses and trains across the county were at the forefront of Metro’s annual “State of the Agency” address this Wednesday. Bass, who completed his first season as board chairman, co-chaired the event with Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins.

“If you’re in transit, we want everyone to be safe,” Bass said during the address.

Supervisor Janice Hahn was also in attendance and will succeed Bass as the new chair. As the new chairwoman, Hahn said she will use Metro transit more often to better assess ridership needs. “At our board meetings, I will talk about what I experienced as a Metro rider. That will mean calling out problems I see and praising the things that are going right, Hahn said.

Wednesday’s presentation highlighted the future model for public safety. This includes the LA Metro board’s decision to establish its own police force to patrol the countywide transit system, which includes bus and train lines in Boyle Heights and East LA. The metro force will be rolled out over the next five years.

“We resolved decades of debate by acting decisively to change law enforcement on the subway system by moving forward with creating a new transit security division to keep everyone safe,” Bass said.

This change was triggered by several stabbings and shootings that have occurred since the beginning of the year. Despite safety concerns, Metro has experienced 18 months of ridership growth, including on weekends and with recreational cyclists.

Wiggins said Metro’s new approach to public safety will take riders’ mental health into account. “Our region is grappling with historic levels of homelessness, untreated mental illness and substance abuse,” Wiggins said. “These issues are at the heart of our public safety challenges, and we must address them compassionately and effectively.”

Other planned changes include the addition of bus lanes and progress on projects under construction, including the Airport Metro Connector, the Purple (D) Line extension, and “major” planning milestones on the East San Fernando Valley Line, North San Fernando Valley Line, and Southeast Gateway Line.

Metro officials also highlighted the decisions to be made Metro ambassador and GoPass pilot program permanent.

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