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Bi-State officials propose mental health services on MetroLink trains

They hope to enter into a contract with a behavioral health organization in an effort to cut down on violence.

ST. LOUIS — Bi-State Development is considering pairing mental health services with security to improve safety for MetroLink riders and staff.

With October baseball and Blues hockey getting underway, fan safety in downtown St. Louis is on the minds of many people.

Bi-State officials say only focusing on security enforcement measures can fail to address the underlying health issues responsible for many safety concerns. That's why they're hoping to enter into a two-year contract with Chestnut Health Systems for what they are calling "transit client engagement services."

Bi-State officials are proposing that two-person clinician teams would work at MetroLink's North Hanley and Civic Center transit centers to help riders in need of behavioral health services.

These teams would directly connect riders with appropriate Chestnut Health Systems behavioral health services.

Bi-State officials say adding this initiative to their already-existing security improvement efforts would increase rider safety in light of violent crime on Metrolink, and even the shooting death of a security guard in recent years. 

Metro officials say this model mimics a highly successful pilot program already in place within the St. Clair County Transit District with the same health provider.

Bi-State is also still dealing with $40 million in damage from the July flash flooding. Metro officials say key signal and communications systems near the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station sustained major damage during the historic rainfall. 

Officials say realistically, they are looking at six months or more to completely replace the signal and communication components before they are back to pre-flood service levels on MetroLink.

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