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SEPTA releases plan for addressing vulnerable populations

SEPTA has released a detailed report on their plan to provide social services to vulnerable populations using their transit system.

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On Oct. 4, SEPTA released their comprehensive plan of their SCOPE program as they seek to address the safety, security, and challenges of the vulnerable populations in their transit system.

These vulnerable populations experience homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues. As SEPTA has seen an increase in these vulnerable groups, they created the SCOPE program in response in 2021.

SCOPE stands for “Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership and Engagement.” It is SEPTA’s systemwide effort to connect vulnerable individuals with social services while providing clean and safe transportation.

Their detailed plan covers what SEPTA employees, policymakers, riders, and members of the business community can do to help.

“We are tackling some of the most difficult issues society faces, and we need the involvement of everyone in pursuing solutions,” SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said in a statement.

“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,” she continued.

In SCOPE’s first year, it received assistance from partners in government, nonprofit and business sectors, and academia as it seeks to address the challenges these vulnerable populations face.

“With SCOPE, we are working collaboratively to solve challenges that are upstream from SEPTA,” said Kenneth Divers, Director of Outreach Services for SEPTA. “We won’t stop until we’ve reached our goal: to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.”

A part of this is increasing cleaning schedules and expanding the number of social service outreach workers from seven to over 50.

Other measures being taken include increasing security measures, like coordinating with SEPTA Transit Police to increase patrols and ensuring they work with SCOPE outreach members.

“SEPTA knows that riders have concerns about safety and security on the system, and we are addressing them,” said Acting Police Chief Charles Lawson. “We have increased police visibility to deter crime, and we are closely monitoring feedback from our customers to respond to quality-of-life concerns.”

SEPTA intends to release regular SCOPE performance reports, detailing the program's impact and covering things, such as the number of referrals of vulnerable individuals to services and the cleanliness of stations and platforms.

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