Calgary Transit began a system-wide response to a rise in social disorder, beginning last Thursday with the doubling of peace officers patrolling the LRT system.
The plan comes after concerns over social disorder were first brought up by Coun. Jeff Davison at the Feb. 8 city council meeting. In Monday’s (March 15) strategic meeting of council, Davison raised the issue again in question period.
He asked for an update from Calgary Transit, considering he’d had several more calls of concern after raising the issue last month.
Calgary Transportation GM Doug Morgan said last Thursday began a three-phase response to social disorder. He acknowledged that the closure of public spaces and a significant drop in ridership had contributed the concerns.
Ridership had dipped to as low as 10 per cent of normal on CTrain lines at the peak of the pandemic.
Morgan said last Thursday they doubled the number of peace officers patrolling the line.
“This intense deployment will have a duration of five to 10 days to provide an immediate response,” Morgan said. This will also come with a comms campaign to remind riders of the safety and reporting systems available to Calgary Transit users.
GM Morgan also said starting March 22 they would work with Calgary community standards, corporate security and the Calgary police to “augment Calgary Transit’s peace officer team.”
Phase three will include the hiring of contracted security to increase visibility, and incident reporting. Morgan said it would enable peace officers to focus on other areas of need.
Community Services GM Katie Black also said they continue working with social agencies to coordinate responses among the organizations.
“We know, of course, that social disorder doesn’t start and stop at the edge of Calgary Transit property,” she said.
Safety blitz on Calgary Transit
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was looking forward to seeing the results of the “safety blitz” on Calgary Transit.
“This is a concern that we have increasingly been hearing that, while major incidents on the transit system like assaults are down significantly, those sort of little bits of social disorder have gone up quite a bit,” he said.
“Which are even more visible because of fewer people on the train and we want to make sure that everyone feels safe.”
Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal also brought up driver safety on both buses and CTrains.
He asked about additional training or other support for workers.
GM Morgan referred to the organization’s “Code Blue” program. It’s a process to document and investigate negative interactions with clients.
“We investigate every single one of those and any learnings that we can glean from those incidents we feed back into our training program as a refresher program,” Morgan said.
Morgan added they also have a team that can respond to problem locations when needed.
The additional security support will be funded through the COFLEX program. This was adopted by council in November 2020 to allow for the quick allocation of provincial and federal municipal operating support transfer cash.