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City will review the feasibility of closed access to Calgary CTrain stations

Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean is hoping the city will bite on a pilot project to close access to ticketed riders at select Calgary CTrain stations.

McLean, who has been vocal recently about safety on Calgary Transit, brought it up during Question Period at Tuesday’s Combined Meeting of Council.

A recent trip on Calgary Transit with security personnel had McLean press the issue further on Tuesday.

“I was frankly a little horrified by what I saw, like open drug use, violence, alcohol. And a lot of fare skipping,” he said in the meeting.

“Even this past week, I took the CTrain just to the mall, and a pretty serious matter took place right in front of me.”

RELATED: Mayor Gondek said all transit security options must be on the table

That’s when Coun. McLean asked if they could pilot controlled access at one or more stations.

“I’m not at all suggesting spending hundreds of millions of dollars to close the whole system,” he said.  

“But with new technologies, surely there are more effective ways to better control our CTrain platforms to enhance public safety.”

Safety and security on Calgary Transit has been an issue going back several months. Several councillors are working on potential solutions.

The challenge many see is wanting to increase ridership while having continued rider concerns about safety.

Six-to-eight months of work: GM Morgan

City of Calgary Transportation GM Doug Morgan said the two issues of record low ridership and an increase in social disorder have created a major challenge for Calgary Transit.

They’ve increased patrols on the system with contracted security guards. They’ve also hired paid duty Calgary police officers, Morgan said.

“While progress has been made, there is more work to do, as you found out on your site tours,” Morgan said in response to Coun. McLean’s questions.

As far as controlled access to stations, Morgan said it presents some challenges. First, Calgary has a very low fare evasion rate, Morgan said.

“Preliminary assessments show that implementing a closed system will have many challenges including accessibility, especially for people with disabilities. And, of course, cost,” he said.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said a turnstile system would make it difficult for those with disabilities.

“I think one of the successes that our city has had the transit is making it so accessible to everyone,” she said.

“So if we are now talking about closing it, we need to offer some explanations to Calgarians.”

Previously, administration has said that outfitting the entire LRT system with a turnstile-based, closed system, could cost $400 million.

Morgan said, however, that in the interest of looking at all solutions, they will examine if a full or partial closed system could be put in place. That review, he said, would also look at impacts to rider accessibility and if they would simply be shifting the social disorder to other parts of the city.