Continuing their efforts to improve the safety of transit riders on rails and buses, Metro launched today a 24-hour sexual harassment counseling hotline available seven days a week.
The hotline, 1 (844) Off-Limits (633-5464), is a one-year pilot program that will be staffed by counselors from the community advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which specializes in counseling victims of sexual abuse in the county, according to a release from Metro. The counselors are trained to address issues related to sexual harassment on a transit system.
“This 24/7 hotline is part of Metro’s commitment to keeping the system a safe space for all passengers,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana in a statement. “Launching the round the clock sexual harassment hotline shows that Metro cares about our riders’ experiences and that we’re committed to their safety.”
Metro CEO Phillip Washington noted that no other transit agency in the world has a 24/7 sexual harassment hotline.
“The establishment of this pilot program exemplifies Metro’s commitment to protecting our customers from this kind of abuse,” stated Washington.
In April 2015, Metro launched an “It’s Off Limits” campaign that encouraged victims and witnesses to contact police with reports of harassment. The campaign included advertisements posted on thousands of buses and hundreds of train cars, and the distribution of tens of thousands of information cards throughout the transit system, officials stated.
“The rate of sexual harassment has decreased from 22 to 15 percent since the inception of the campaign,” the release stated.
In addition to the victim hotline, Metro has also increased video surveillance and monitoring of the transit system, implemented cell service in the Red and Purple Line stations in downtown Los Angeles, and added provisions to the Metro Code of Conduct to specifically prohibit many different types of harassment, according to the release.
“Metro partnered with Peace Over Violence nearly two years ago and efforts to make the transit system a safe space for all travelers are increasingly successful, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro First Vice Chair Eric Garcetti in a statement. “We’re providing resources for our passengers who may experience long-lasting effects from unwanted sexual contact.”