PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New members in purple vests will be ready to greet riders as part of Portland Streetcar’s new safety team.

The streetcar system has a Rider Ambassadors program to help people adhere to changing coronavirus pandemic protocols while making sure people from vulnerable communities get the resources they need. According to Dan Bower, the executive director of the Portland Streetcar, the first year of the pilot program is funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

The grant is specific to transit after the pandemic with $180,000 of the $400,000 going towards the program.

“This is one of a couple of different things we’re doing to make the system feel more open and welcome coming out of the pandemic,” said Bower.

When asked if incidents on the streetcar prompted the funding, Bower said, “We have incidents on the train, but what we felt was — in addition to having police and having our own supervisors — having a presence there that would help be a little bit more proactive.”

He added that the team also wears purple vests to not alarm riders. Along with the distinct colors, team members also carry a backpack full supplies, such as water, clothes and Narcan in case of an overdose situation.

Those members also started the program with de-escalation and social work training. Bower said they were given additional CPR and racial equity training.

“We grew the program to be able to assist our most vulnerable riders in a way that doesn’t involve police,” he said. “Those police are stretched very thin, and we’d like to be able to do approaches and deal with these programs firsthand.”

Bower understands that some riders might use the streetcar as shelter, but he said it’s important to try and connect them with the “appropriate” resources.

Funding for the program remains until the end of the year. The streetcar system hopes to continue program along with possibly expanding it in the future.