How about endowing a fund to celebrate with a monetary gift, on a quarterly or annual basis, someone at Metro that’s gone way out of their way to serve their ridership?
A much, much more public recognition of simple but profound courtesy, assisting those in need, safety “discovery”, real-time crime prevention, or something similar, by Metro Employees; make someone say "wow, that made a big difference for someone else AND me".
Would probably not be useful to say that the intent is to “correct years of perception erosion”, so a positive message is needed. Perhaps this would even be seed money that outsiders could add to as a civic gesture. Front page of the Post-type placement. After decades of ridership, just having employees that seem to care – or even LIKE their jobs – would go a long way to bridging the physical hardships they’ve shared with the locals.