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Metro Transit bus and light-rail riders have another way to report suspicious or unwanted behavior. Starting Tuesday, riders can send a text message directly to trained Metro Transit staff who can respond by text, and if needed, send Transit Police.

The "Text for Safety” feature, doesn't take the place of calling 911 in emergencies, said spokesman Drew Kerr. Rather it allows riders to discreetly report safety concerns, such as in harassing situations, without having to make a phone call and becoming vulnerable.

"It's just another way to connect with us," Kerr said. And while 911 will always work, the app feature could be quicker because "you get a hold of person who knows the transit system," Kerr said. If there's a problem on Route 4, police will know it's on Lyndale Avenue, for example.

The service also is aimed at helping deaf, blind or hard of hearing riders. Translation services for multiple languages will also be available through the service, the agency said.

"It's not to be used to report lost gloves or late buses. Those calls should still go to Customer Relations" at 612-373-3333, Kerr said.

Customers can access the service anytime, seven days a week, using the latest version of Metro Transit's app or by sending a text message to 612-900-0411. The Text for Safety service is free but standard messaging rates apply to text messages, as determined by the user’s mobile plan.

“Providing another option to report suspicious or unwanted behavior ... sends a message to our customers that we’ll be there for them when they need us the most," Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said.

The app feature comes two weeks after the statewide “Text-to-911,” went live. The service allows anybody needing to reach 911 during an emergency to send a text message when calling for help is not an option.

Metro Transit's app, which has been downloaded nearly 104,000 times since it debuted in 2016, also can be used to purchase fares, plan trips and access real-time transit information.