Today (May 5, 2022) we formally introduced the next component of our safety program – SEPTA Outreach Services.
In February, the SEPTA Board approved this new initiative as part SEPTA’s SCOPE (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnerships and Engagement) initiative. This year’s budget increases spending on safety and security by 50% – to $53 million – for a variety of staffing increases and third-party contracts to support our safety efforts. We have partnered with three security firms to staff SEPTA Outreach Services.
Combined, they will give us 88 specialists who will be assigned to stations and vehicles along the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, as well as the concourses in Center City.
The specialists will act as additional eyes and ears on SEPTA:
They will engage customers -- reminding them about the rules for riding, assisting destination-less riders, and contacting police when needed.
The outreach personnel are equipped with phones to facilitate direct contact with Transit Police.
They also took over the responsibilities of opening and closing the subway stations - which allows police officers to conduct more patrols during the overnight hours.
They are an added visible presence – and we hope this new initiative will reduce quality-of-live complaints and make the system more welcoming and most importantly - make our customers and employees feel safer.
To be clear, none of these auxiliary programs are replacements for law enforcement, but they act as a “force multiplier”. SEPTA’s 210 Transit Police Officers are exceptional public servants who protect our customers and employees every day. The challenges related to the recruitment and retention of qualified police officers is a national crisis. SEPTA is actively recruiting new officers all the time, and we are looking to enhance our efforts.
We are working with the Fraternal Order of Transit Police to determine how to make Transit Police compensation as competitive as possible in the current job market. And we are creating a new Virtual Patrol Unit in the police department, which will give us personnel dedicated to monitoring our surveillance video live streams. This will help us make sure we are dispatching patrol officers to parts of the system where they are needed the most.
We are also doing everything we can to keep our stations and vehicles clean. This year, we budgeted to hire 200 new cleaners, and we are well on our way to reaching that goal. Our crews regularly perform station cleaning and maintenance “blitzes” to ensure we are keeping up with tasks that enhance safety – such as replacing lights, painting, and power washing surfaces. And we are issuing cell phones to all 282 custodians, so they have a quick and easy connection with police dispatchers.
Finally, we want to remind riders about the tools available for them to communicate with SEPTA Transit Police:
The SEPTA Transit Watch App allows you to discretely report an issue and text with police. And the emergency buttons on the trains and in stations can help facilitate a quick police response.
If you see something - please say something. The power is in your pocket! Watch the video!