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Calgary Transit riders see lack of cleanliness, safety issues during coronavirus

Transit user Seán Sabraw said he’s seen an increase in untidy Calgary Transit stations in his recent commutes, but he’s a firm believer in supporting it during the coronavirus.

According to the city, there’s been a 27 per cent increase in social disorder complaints on the line compared with last year.

Calgary Transit now has overnight closures at some major stations to reduce the number of people gathering at city stations.

Sabraw, who is still regularly riding the CTrain during COVID-19, said he feels as though less attention is being given to cleaning the lesser travelled parts of the station.

He said he’s seen what appears an increase in the homeless population congregating in stations and in the enclosed shelters. It could be that he’s seeing them more frequently because there’s fewer other riders, he said.

I understand when it’s cold out, but it seems that there’s less security monitoring the downtown platforms,” Sabraw told LiveWire Calgary.

I’ve seen some drunk riders being belligerent, but perhaps only seeing more of it because of fewer riders, which allows the belligerent ones to ride more often.”

While riders are always sharing social media messages with Calgary Transit on the conditions of train cars or the stations, there’s been several recently commenting on safety and cleanliness.

Some riders have expressed, in confidential messages, that they’ve never experienced Calgary Transit commutes like the ones during COVID-19.

Others are talking about it openly on social media.

Increased cleaning of CTrains in service; new station closures

Stephen Tauro with Calgary Transit said there’s been no change in the frequency of station cleanings since the start of the coronavirus.

Our CTrains are thoroughly cleaned every night. In addition to regular cleaning, we introduced a new program to help increase the cleanliness of our CTrains while in service,” Tauro wrote via email response.

“On April 4, crews began boarding in-service CTrain cars at stations along the Red and Blue Line throughout the day to disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as buttons, poles, straps and rails. Between CTrain rides, the crews are disinfecting high-touch surfaces at the Stations including the ticket machines and railings.”

On April 6, the city began overnight closures at five of their larger stations. Victoria Park/Stampede, Erlton, Anderson, Heritage and Southland Stations are included.

“We want to help reduce the number of people gathering in our station buildings. This will encourage physical distancing while on transit and help keep our system safe,” Tauro wrote.

Calgary Transit Peace Officers continue to patrol the Red and Blue Lines as they did before. Calgary Transit’s security team also monitor more than 1,200 cameras on the system.

Calgary Transit video. COURTESY CRACKMACS

Additional safety measures may be coming, Nenshi said

In Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Mayor Nenshi said he’s heard more complaints about the safety on Calgary Transit.

He said that while the increase in complaints is a problem, it’s more about the nature of the complaints that’s concerning to him.

“It has to be safe and welcoming for everyone,” he said.

The mayor said if problems persist, more will be done.

He suggested that they would ramp up fare checks on trains outside the downtown core. Nenshi also said that if the partial station closures don’t help curb social disorder, they’ll close them completely.

With fewer passengers riding transit, mayor Nenshi said it gives those who are riding a less secure feeling.

Changes to Calgary Transit during coronavirus

Earlier this week, Calgary city councillors heard that there’s been a 90 per cent drop in CTrain ridership. To make matters worse, there’s been a 70 per cent drop in bus and MAX line ridership.

The revenue loss is pegged at up to $12 million per month, according to preliminary City of Calgary financial reports.

As a result, bus and C-Train route frequency have been reduced to meet demand.

Further, in order to meet the public health measures, riders are being asked to maintain a two-metre distance between one-another. On buses, this means that up to 50 per cent of seats are being marked as occupied.

Calgary Transit has also asked that riders enter buses from the rear to protect drivers.

During this challenging time, Sabraw said it’s important to continue supporting it where he can.

“I feel that public transit is under attack from our provincial government right down to the Anti-Green Line, suburban corporate executives who fought it out at city council against the line,” said Sabraw.

“Public transit in Calgary has the opportunity to turn Calgary from our 20th Century, car-centric mindset, into a city of the 21st Century.”