At King County Metro, the safety of our customers, employees, and community members is paramount. I wanted to provide several updates—and a big thank you—related to our work together to make Metro safer for everyone.

Earlier this year, we introduced our Safety, Security, and Fare Enforcement (SaFE) initiative to reimagine safety and security by reforming and restructuring our security and fare enforcement policies and practices. As part of that work, I want to personally thank the more than 5,600 of you who participated in our survey in July 2021 and shared what is needed to make you feel safe while traveling, at transit stops, and at other Metro facilities.

My colleagues, alongside community members who are serving on an initiative equity team, are carefully reviewing all of the feedback and recommendations that were thoughtfully provided by the many respondents. We’ll soon publish the findings and takeaways, and will use them to invite you to help us develop recommendations for providing you with a safer and more equitable transit experience.

Through the survey and many other channels, you shared with us what you love about Metro and also what needs to improve when it comes to safety. At Metro, we acknowledge the historic negative relationship of law enforcement with many of our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community members and we are committed to centering equity, public safety, and the voices of those most impacted by systemic racism in all of our work.

Today, I’m pleased to share several next steps that will be implemented during the weeks and months ahead. These immediate and temporary updates will take place over the next 12 months in parallel with, and helping to inform, the longer-term changes that will be guided by the SaFE initiative.

The implementation plan for these new measures is currently being developed and launch is slated for fall 2021. That plan will ensure that fair, just, and unbiased deployment and presence practices are in place so that we can increase safety and not perpetuate inequities. For this reason, we will measure and track who is impacted by these practices and how.

(1) Metro will be adding 36 new Transit Security Officers (TSOs) for on-coach deployment. These staff members will serve to increase security presence during all hours of operation, including Night Owl bus service (midnight to 5 a.m.). These additional resources will be deployed on routes not covered by current security teams.

(2) Six additional Transit Security Officers will be part of a 12-month pilot program to improve response times when Metro’s first-line supervisors request support.

(3) Twelve further Transit Security Officers will be part of a different 12-month pilot program at Aurora Village Transit Center and at Burien Transit Center. In addition to other duties, these staff members will provide support to our bus operators using these transit centers.

At Metro, all of us are dedicated to getting you there safely. As we move forward together, thank you again for your feedback and time in helping us better serve you.

Terry White is General Manager of King County Metro.