The Lead

SEPTA strategy aims to connect vulnerable individuals to services

By: - October 6, 2022 11:33 am

(Philadelphia Tribune photo)

By Naiser Warren-Robinson

PHILADELPHIA — SEPTA officials have released a report detailing plans for safety and security throughout its multi-county system.

The transit authority’s plan looks at their “strategy for addressing safety, security, and the challenges of the vulnerable population on its system.”

Within Tuesday’s report, SEPTA officials talk about expanding its SCOPE program to be able to more effectively connect “vulnerable individuals” using their system with social services in order to provide a safe, clean transit system for riders and employees.

SCOPE stands for safety, cleaning, ownership, partnership, and engagement and was created back in April of 2021 as a way for SEPTA to mitigate the challenges and disruptions its service endures due to an increasing presence of people experiencing homelessness, people with addiction disorders and people with mental health issues on its services.

“As workers return to offices throughout the region, SEPTA will continue to rely on its SCOPE strategy to ensure that its system is safe, clean, reliable and efficient,” said SEPTA Chief Operating Officer Scott Sauer. “There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our riders, the vulnerable individuals on our system, and our 9,000-plus employees.”

One of the improvements SEPTA said they were making was increasing the number of social service outreach workers it deploys to its stations from seven to 50 in order to maximize its ability to connect vulnerable individuals to programs that can help them.

Another improvement highlighted in SEPTA’s plan is their allocation of $14.8 million in their 2023 fiscal year budget for maintenance custodians. According to the report, this figure is triple the amount allocated last year.

Other strategies listed within the plan include developing a Health Navigators program in partnership with Drexel and Cabrini University, increasing uniformed police presence on trains, and working with the Office of Homeless Services to address gaps related to SEPTA service areas.

“We are tackling some of the most difficult issues society faces, and we need the involvement of everyone in pursuing solutions,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “Our investment in SCOPE is critical to ensuring SEPTA can provide safe, secure and reliable service that supports our city and region through the current recovery and for the long term.”

Naiser Warren-Robinson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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