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New Metro board chair

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn pledged Wednesday to improve public safety and the rider experience in LA Metro’s system when she takes over as board chair from LA Mayor Karen Bass.

Why now: Hahn officially started on July 1. On Wednesday, the agency held its annual State of the Agency address, which highlighted new infrastructure improvements and public safety changes.

Why this is important: Hahn takes over the agency just as the board voted last month to create a public safety department amid a increase in violent crimes against people despite a reported reduction in overall crimes.

LA will host the 2026 World Cup, the 2027 NFL Super Bowl and the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn pledged Wednesday to improve public safety and the rider experience in LA Metro’s system when she takes over as board chair from LA Mayor Karen Bass.

During her Metro State of the Agency address, Hahn said her top priorities also included a strong workforce and adding more bus shelters.

Hahn also promised to make it a point to ride the subway more while she’s president, saying she’ll use those trips to inform her new role. “That will mean calling out problems I see, as well as praising the things that are going right,” she said.

Hahn chairs the Metro board at a time of increased violent crime against riders and operators despite a reported reduction in overall crimes.

A new approach to public safety

In response to a series of violent incidents this year, Bass ordered an increase in law enforcement throughout the system. That order highlighted several cracks in the agency’s current security strategy and motivated the board to green light various security measures, including placement of Plexiglas shields for bus operators and the creation of a unified command force.

One of the biggest steps the board made in the past year was the decision to establish a department of public safety which would create an internal police force and increase the number of care-based workers.

Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said that while she was grateful to the Los Angeles and Long Beach police, as well as the LA County Sheriff’s Department, it was time to change course.

“Our region is grappling with historic levels of homelessness, untreated mental illness and substance abuse. These issues are at the heart of our public safety challenges and we must address them compassionately and effectively,” said Wiggins.

Hahn stressed that this new model is “not a guaranteed success” and that the focus must be “the safety of our drivers right now,” advocating instead more law enforcement partners on platforms, trains and buses.

Metro tackles homelessness

During Bass’ tenure as chairman, Metro increased its homeless outreach services.

Early last year, Metro reviewed their property portfolio to identify sites that could be used for housing for the homeless. During Wednesday’s speech, Bass highlighted the creation of La Veranda, an affordable mixed-use housing project on Metro property in Boyle Heights. The building contains designated rooms for homeless subway riders.

And with an increase in homeless outreach services aboard the system, Bass said Metro has moved 2,000 people off the street.

Looking ahead

All eyes are on Los Angeles as it is set to host the 2026 World Cup, the 2027 Super Bowl and the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We know that when LA hosts the 2028 Olympics, Metro will show the world how we can move millions of fans and local residents in a clean, convenient and truly exemplary way,” Bass said.

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