Men followed her, made catcalls, leered.
Whenever Scarlett De León felt unnerved taking the bus as a young girl — to school, or work or anywhere else she needed to be — she sat near the driver or close to friendly looking passengers.
“I think my experiences on public transportation are very similar to, just, women’s experiences in public spaces,” she said. “What made me feel safe during that time was having friends around me, bus drivers, other riders.”
Now an advocate, De León, 32, has pushed for a so-called ambassador program on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus and rail system.
The $122-million pilot program, approved by Metro’s executive board in June, will place up to 300 uniformed workers on trains and buses starting this fall with the aim of making riders feel safe. The ambassadors will help with directions, alert police of a threat, point people to homeless services, keep an eye on vulnerable people and check that seats are clean and passengers are safe.