The eyes and ears on our system: Meet CapMetro’s Public Safety Ambassadors

Picture this: a packed bus, a bustling transit stop, or a full train with people and their bikes. And, throughout this crowded commute, you feel safe because you know there’s a team of Public Safety Ambassadors, ready to step in at a moment’s notice.   

Back in 2021, CapMetro began revamping its public safety program to enhance the riding experience for both its customers and frontline employees. We surveyed the transit community, and there was an overwhelming sentiment that people wanted a greater CapMetro uniformed presence throughout the transportation network. And that’s how the Public Safety Ambassadors came to be.  

“They act like the eyes and ears of our system,” said CapMetro’s Manager of the Public Safety Ambassador program, Brian Robinson. “They are unarmed, trained individuals that can help customers and staff with situations like wayfinding, answering questions about our service, and de-escalate situations before they happen.” 

Robinson has been a part of the Ambassador program since its inception in 2021. He helps manage the day-to-day operations of the three ambassador supervisors, as well as the 22 ambassadors currently on staff.  The team works in three rotating shifts to help cover as much of the system throughout much of the day and night as possible. 

On a typical day, the ambassadors will begin their days at the office where they take care of any administration work and get their assignment for the day. Those assignments are usually either riding the system or being on patrol.  

With a transportation network that spans across multiple cities and communities, it may seem slightly difficult to schedule where to place these ambassadors. However, the team looks at data and has extensive conversations with our frontline teams to determine placements.   

“We can’t be everywhere all at once, that would be impossible,” said Robinson. “So, we look at our calls for service and where they are coming from, talk to our frontline team and strategically deploy ambassadors to the areas most needed.”  

While these ambassadors are out on assignment, they may be called to engage with different individuals about different things. They may help customers find the best route to get home or to an appointment, they may help our frontline staff assist with on-board disturbances and disruptions, or they may even bring water to customers waiting at transit stops on a hot summer day.  

Every ambassador on the team has one or all three in their background; security, customer service or law enforcement. They all go through the same training before going out on the system in a CapMetro uniform. Each ambassador will go through a four-week training to learn de-escalation, mental health first aid, situational awareness, improvised explosive device, bus nomenclature, platform sweeps, community intervention referrals, radio etiquette, community engagement, public safety and emergency management, and much more. 

“Their primary goal is to observe, assess and report,” said Robinson. “Every day is different, and every situation is different, so we want them to be prepared, but also know when it’s necessary to call in for more help. After the first phase of training, our ambassadors continue to train throughout their employment at CapMetro to ensure we have the best knowledge and can give our customers the best experience possible on our system.”  

This team is an integral part of the Public Safety Program’s three-team approach who work alongside the Community Intervention Specialists, and eventually, will work with the Transit Police Department, too. Through their visible presence, engagement with customers, and proactive response to potential safety situations, the ambassadors work to create a safer transit experience for everyone on the system. They serve as a bridge between the community and CapMetro team members, helping to foster trust and collaboration as we continue to build out a bigger transportation network.  

“They’re here to support and help our transit community with whatever they may need,” said Robinson. “Their interactions with customers not only enhance the overall experience, but it also helps create a deeper sense of safety on board. They take that role very seriously, so when you see them, make sure to say hello and ask them any questions you may have. They’re doing great work and, above all else, they’re here to help keep us safe.”  

Please note: the above video was filmed in 2022