As the dialogue on recovery continues, a few transit agencies are applying an outcomes-based success model. In Minneapolis, New York City, and St. Louis, safety has been at the forefront of recovery discussion. These agencies have recognized that the key to a successful recovery is to first define what success looks like to their communities – in this case, safety. This does not mean that elements of service such as ridership, reliability, and route coverage are unimportant, it simply means that these agencies have clearly defined and prioritized the outcomes that matter most. The agencies are committed to managing budget and activity based on community concerns. Each agency is in a different stage in the success model process: Metro Transit in Minneapolis is in the first stage - defining the outcome; MTA in New York City is in the implementation phase – conducting the activities to deliver the outcome; and MetroLink in St Louis is seeing their plan come to life - witnessing the results and outcomes of their activity.
Read on to see how each agency has approached defining and delivering a success outcome in the context of recovery.
Metro Transit, an operating division of the Metropolitan Council, has emphasised efforts to improve the community’s impression of safety for the past few years. However, the local events of 2020 surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis fuelled the Council’s drive to focus on delivering the outcome – an increased perception of safety across the system. While the transit safety bill continues its journey in the state legislature, Metro Transit has taken its first step towards transformation - an intentional effort to engage the community in upcoming surveys and forums to examine “what safety really means for operators, customers, and neighbours in the community.” The results of this engagement will be shared with Metro Transit’s partners and the community as it finalizes an implementation plan later this year.
Similarly, the MTA in New York City acknowledged the importance of listening to the needs of the community and began conducting the activities aimed at increasing the impression of safety across the system. Last month the MTA shared survey results where customers highlighted safety as one of their primary concerns. This month, the agency has demonstrated an effort to address this concern as the system returns to 24-hour service. As a result, the NYPD indicates there will be an increase in the deployment of officers in high traffic stations across the system. The MTA has clearly defined the outcome and is now acting on HOW they will deliver the outcome.
In St. Louis, MetroLink has carried out a similar process. The agency recognized that demonstrating safety across the system is essential to regain the region’s confidence. With the outcome defined, MetroLink launched a safety and security strategy focused on increasing police presence in stations, using infrastructure design to increase safety, and implementing a public safety communications strategy. This month, comments from riders have confirmed the preliminary results of the initiative; one rider stated that his route has been “a lot more peaceful”. The agency continues to explore new elements of the system that can be added or refined to improve the overall perception of safety.
As transit industry leaders learn more about recovery patterns and customer needs, agencies may begin to see an improvement in the quality of service provided, and an increase in ridership as a result. As Metro Transit, MTA, and MetroLink have demonstrated, a transit agency can bring itself one step closer to a successful recovery by focusing on the needs of the community and establishing outcomes that reflect the findings.