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Calgary Transit deals with COVID-19 rise in social disorder in CTrain

Calgary Transit has doubled the dispatch of peace officers and tripled patrols in certain areas in response to a rise in social disorder calls.

In Monday’s combined meeting of council, Coun. Jeff Davison raised the question of the increase in social disorder, specifically along the 7 Avenue free fare zone.

“This weekend we also saw the emergence of an online video depicting illicit drug use on a train,” Coun. Davison said.

Davison asked for a recap from city administration on how they were ensuring the safety of riders at a time when ridership is still down.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw ridership drop to a low of 10 per cent of normal in some cases. While ridership has increased substantially from then, it remains lower than normal, opening it up to an increase in social disorder, said Calgary’s Transportation general manager, Doug Morgan.

“With a drop in ridership we’ve seen some unacceptable behaviour occur on the system,” Morgan said.

“This is part of a larger social issue that is occurring as part of the pandemic.”

Ramped up patrols, dispatches

Morgan said the issue is moving around, and as areas like the city’s +15s and the library have closed, the disorder issues migrate to Calgary Transit.

As a result of calls, Morgan said they’ve doubled the number of dispatches of Calgary Transit Peace Officers through the month of January.

“We have tripled our station patrols in response to citizen concerns,” he said.

Morgan also said they’re working with other agencies to develop a rapid response plan. They want to connect the vulnerable Calgarians with resources through the Bear Clan Patrol, or the Alpha House DOAP team.

Morgan said riders can also use the help phone or the text line for help. More than 1,300 covert text conversations in January. There were also 4,000 calls that came from the public on social disorder and safety concerns, he said.

Do you have something to add to this story? Contact darren.krause@livewirecalgary.com