With around 20,000 passengers passing through it each day, the Westlake/MacArthur Park Station is one of L.A. Metro’s busiest. It is also the most dangerous.
Last February, 113 crimes were reported at this station, and, over a two-month period last summer, there was nearly one call to the police from this station every day.
L.A. Metro is working to make conditions safer and has given KTLA an exclusive look at its new pilot program. Among the initiatives: better lighting and changes to the ambiance.
“Some of the lights down here have been replaced by brighter LEDs,” said Stephen Tu, senior director at the L.A. Metro who is in charge of the changes.
In addition to lighting and playing music, air is now blowing on the platforms.
The Metro also blocked off one of the two entrances at this station and funnel their passengers to one entrance where officers are checking to make sure everyone has a valid fare. Tu said this has improved safety and decreased the number of homeless people seeking shelter inside.
In a recent report, Metro released photos showing people living in the station’s corridors, leaving trash, drugs and human waste, along with condoms and syringes.
Outside the station, changes include a new Sky Watch unit, more lighting and fencing.
“If you are in this station and you are not using it for transportation, if you’re doing drugs, if you’re having a mental health crisis, you’re not getting better because we don’t have the capability to help someone get better,” said Tu.
Another part of the Metro’s multi-layer approach to safety is its ambassador program. It started at the Westlake/MacArthur Park Station and has expanded to over 300 ambassadors across the entire transit system.
Ambassadors are not armed but have been trained in using Narcan – also known as naloxone – which is a medication used to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses.
Three days after getting trained, Ambassador Yesenia Chavez administered Narcan to a woman at the North Hollywood Station after she noticed she was unconscious and her lips were blueish.
So far this year, 22 people have died on Metro buses and trains, mostly from suspected overdoses. That’s more deaths than in all of last year.