Since October 2021, Chestnut Health Systems™ and Bi-State Development have partnered on an innovative project that aims to improve safety on the Metro Transit System and to connect riders to community resources.
Funding from Bi-State Development (BSD) enables Chestnut to place behavioral health providers on MetroLink vehicles and at transfer stations deemed to have the highest level of need. A similar partnership between Chestnut and the St. Clair County, IL Transit District serves as a model for the Chestnut-BSD project.
Four, two-person teams from Chestnut work 40 hours per week to address transit-related issues involving riders who live with substance use disorder and/or mental health concerns. Metro Transit security personnel work alongside the Chestnut teams and have received mental health awareness and de-escalation training. The project aims to:
- Reduce loitering on the system by “all-day” riders and those using Metro Transit Centers for non-transportation related needs;
- Address alcohol and drug use on the transit system;
- Reduce panhandling, argumentativeness, sleeping, and other behaviors that can impact operations;
- Provide early detection and intervention for riders who need services;
- Improve visibility of Metro Transit system safety, security, and rider satisfaction initiatives;
- Improve communication between riders and security staff; and
- Improve the overall rider experience.
The innovative project recognizes that public safety does not depend solely on law enforcement. Underlying health determinants must be recognized and addressed. Often, the answer lies in connecting people to community resources including housing, food, primary health care, medication, transportation to service providers, substance use treatment, mental health counseling, employment opportunities, and more.
The behavioral health teams deliver early intervention and treatment services. Riders/visitors in need receive in-the-moment crisis intervention and behavioral health support. Those willing to engage are connected to services provided by Chestnut or by another provider. When the behavioral health teams are not available, Metro Transit security personnel have access to behavioral health consultation and help by phone or video link.
BSD and Chestnut are seeking additional funding to sustain and potentially expand the program.
The St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) was created in 1981 under the Illinois Mass Transit District Act. SCCTD is a special purpose unit of local government empowered to collect a .75 percent sales tax for the purpose of providing public transportation. St. Clair County’s local investment of $339 million delivers access to a $1 billion transit system that includes MetroLink, MetroBus, Paratransit Alternative Transportation Service, and MetroBike Link. SCCTD provides and manages transportation services for fifteen Illinois townships.
operates the St. Louis region’s public transportation system that includes 400 clean-burning diesel buses and 18 battery electric buses that serve 65 MetroBus routes in eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois. Metro also operates MetroLink light rail vehicles on 46 miles of track serving 38 stations in the two-state area, and operates Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 125 vans. Metro Transit is a Bi-State Development enterprise.
Bi-State Development (BSD) is a dynamic and multi-faceted resource for economic development in the St. Louis region. BSD has partnered since 1950 with private and public organizations to create thousands of jobs on both sides of the Mississippi River. BSD’s focus is to make a positive impact on the region and the nation.
Chestnut Health Systems is a not-for-profit organization that has cared since 1973 for persons needing behavioral health services. Chestnut provides substance use disorder treatment, mental health counseling, primary health care, credit counseling, and housing and supportive services in Missouri and Illinois. It is a leader in substance use-related research. Learn more at www.chestnut.org.