Metrolinx’s Customer Protection team looks for public input

Customer Protection officers – long dubbed ‘guardians of the journey’ – are the vanguards of keeping the public safe while on or near transit property. But as they continue to refine and evolve – as society is doing – they’re taking measures to get feedback on how they can improve. That’s where they’re asking for help – and a bit of advice – from customers and communities.

As security measures change and evolve, so does the work of those charged with keeping everyone safe.

Metrolinx’s Customer Protection team – long known to customers as ‘Transit Safety’ – is reaching out to the public, to help them take important steps in ensuring officers go beyond the physical safety and wellbeing of riders and community members.

They are now asking… what does ‘feeling safe’ mean?

A complex and important question, it’s the starting point of the division’s continued evolution and development they’re calling their ‘transformation journey’.

Image shows a youngster and mom talking to a GO Transit expert.
A young customer asks questions during a recent pop-up inside Union Station. (Metrolinx photo)

Over the last year, Customer Protection has been working to advance the way Metrolinx protects and engages with customers and communities. As part of this work, they are examining every aspect of their business – including training and development, recruitment, community engagement, and even branding – to better serve everyone as ‘guardians of the journey’.

“In the last several years or so, we have seen a fundamental shift in approach to policing and protective services,” says Rod Jones, Metrolinx’s director of security.

“To align with industry best practices, and to stand out as a leader in our industry, we’re focusing less on law enforcement and more on guardianship. We are committed to ensuring everyone who uses our transit network feels safe and confident to do so.”

Earlier this year, the transit agency surveyed customers and other stakeholders to understand current feelings and perceptions of safety on GO Transit and UP Express.

In June, they held a virtual town hall in order to receive feedback, answer questions, and address some of the key themes identified based on survey results.

Survey findings showed that eight in 10 respondents feel safe when travelling on GO Transit and UP Express. Personal safety and security were identified as priority areas of focus, as indicated by 59 per cent of respondents.

The team is now hosting pop-ups in Union Station to speak with commuters and learn more about how we can help them feel safer.

“We need to make sure we are at the right tables with the right people as we work towards a shared vision of safety for all.”

Rod Jones, Metrolinx’s director of security

The first of these pop-ups, which took place in July and August, offered feedback. In particular, most customers expressed their satisfaction with current safety measures, including COVID-19 safety precautions and the ability to use the accessibility coach to feel safer at night. Making Customer Protection Officers more visible was the most cited suggestion, as well as different ways to immediately and discretely contact officers in times of need. These suggestions will be taken under consideration by the team.

Image shows officers standing next to a table.
Customer Protection experts at a recent public input booth set up inside Union Station. (Metrolinx Photo)

Customer Protection officers will be stationed at a pop-up booth in Union Station on Sept. 30. They’ll be gathering more opinions on changes and their development.

“Consulting with various stakeholders, like customers and community members, is critical to the success of our transformation journey,” says Jones. “In speaking with our customers over the past several months, some very clear actions have been identified.

“We need to make sure we are at the right tables with the right people as we work towards a shared vision of safety for all.”

Looking for past story on Transit Safety? Here’s one.

Story by Erin Duffy, Metrolinx senior Advisor, Corporate Citizenship