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March 17, 2021

Metro Transit Teams with St. Louis Mosaic Project for Language Access Initiative

Collaboration is ensuring non-English speaking transit riders receive important COVID-19 health and safety messages

A unique partnership between Metro Transit and the St. Louis Mosaic Project has helped ensure that non-English speaking transit riders throughout the bi-state area have access to important COVID-19 information on the public transit system in their native language. With an immigrant population of nearly five percent in the St. Louis region, this initiative reinforces the importance of providing lifesaving information that reaches immigrant, refugee and other at-risk residents, while moving the community toward more inclusive emergency management and strategies.

Through the Resilient Rapid Response Initiative created by Welcoming America, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that supports immigrants new to the St. Louis metropolitan area, the St. Louis Mosaic Project was awarded grant funding aimed at boosting inclusive emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mosaic Project is a regional initiative within the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and World Trade Center St. Louis. It teamed up with Bi-State Development, which operates the Metro Transit system for the St. Louis region, to create a range of multi-lingual materials for public transportation riders whose primary language is not English to help understand mask policies, fare plans, changing bus routes and more.

With the help of the International Institute of St. Louis, collateral materials highlighting COVID-19 protocols and health and safety procedures produced by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) were translated into six different languages – Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese – and verified for accuracy. More than 1,750 posters were displayed on MetroLink trains, MetroBus vehicles and at MetroBus shelters across the region. Materials were also shared via social media and directly with immigrant organizations to assist those who are starting to use transit for jobs once again. Beyond the grant that was awarded to the Mosaic Project, Metro Transit contributed additional financial support — including some of the CARES Act funding it had received to further the outreach of the project. This enabled multi-lingual print and digital ads communicating the same important messages to be published in various ethnic media outlets in the region.

“We are very appreciative of Metro’s comprehensive collaboration on this important initiative which  goes a long way to make sure immigrants are being seen and heard,” said Suzanne Sierra, Senior Program Manager of the St. Louis Mosaic Project. “Language access is critical and providing these important messages in a language they understand reinforces how welcoming the St. Louis region is to immigrants as a community.”

“The APTA Health & Safety Commitments Program is designed to establish an industry-wide framework for safety best practices, while enabling public transit agencies put in place their own, individualized policies and practices that transit users have told us they want and expect,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Our intent in creating the Commitments program was to help member agencies, and their riders, navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In translating their health and safety materials into so many languages to better serve their communities, Metro Transit embodies the spirit of the Commitments program and serves as a stellar example for agencies around the country.”

This is the second time Metro Transit has worked with the Mosaic Project to create opportunities to break down language barriers. In 2013, their collaboration created multi-language posters that were placed on MetroBus vehicles and MetroLink trains. The poster included the message of “Welcome” in 13 languages to help make Metro Transit riders who did not have English as their first language feel more comfortable when taking public transit. Those colorful posters are still greeting riders today on some of the transit vehicles.

“It is vital that we have effective and clear communication with all the individuals we serve, but especially during these challenging times when the messages we need to communicate help to ensure the safety and health of all our Metro Transit riders,” said Taulby Roach, Bi-State Development President & CEO. “We are proud of our continuing partnership with the Mosaic Project and we welcome the opportunity to promote an inclusive environment in the bi-state area.”

Bi-State Development and Metro Transit are committed to short-term and long-term community initiatives and are represented on the Steering Committee for the St. Louis Mosaic Project.

About Metro Transit
Metro Transit operates the St. Louis region’s public transportation system that includes 400 clean-burning diesel buses that serve 68 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 123 vans. Metro Transit is a Bi-State Development enterprise.