The City of Calgary and Calgary Transit provide an update Monday on their efforts to make the system safer for riders.
Public safety on Calgary Transit has been an ongoing concern for many riders since the start of the pandemic. The issue was once again thrust into the fore recently after a dispute at the Marlborough LRT Station led to the use of a flare gun.
The City update described three key areas that they’re addressing.
Increased transit patrols
By the end of the current recruitment and training that’s been funded, the city said they will have 25 per cent more peace officers on the system. Last week, six recruits graduated.
The city also said they’re recruiting and training enhanced security guards to patrol the system. These guards will have more authority than a typical security guard, the city said. There will be 31 of these personnel when that training is complete.
Aaron Coon, Chief of Public Vehicle Standards, said Monday that they’re using social disorder statistics to help them make the right deployment choices with the new officers.
“We’re using some of those numbers right now to assist us in our deployment and how we’re using these additional resources to work,” he said.
“What we also identified is that the statistics are showing that there’s a need for us to augment our service model. So we’re not just using uniformed police officers or police officers or security officers that this provides a full wide facet of support for Calgarians.”
The City said they’re also piloting a transit ambassador program. This will increase visibility and help with wayfinding or answering transit questions, the city said.
These members won’t be on transit to intervene in escalating situations. They will be equipped with cell phones and can text or call the operations centre or Calgary police, said Calgary Transit Director Sharon Fleming.
The City said they will have more staff in their operations centre where units are dispatched and CCTV is monitored.
They are improving lighting along all 7 Avenue platforms from West Kerby to city hall. They expect that will be complete by the end of 2023. Calgary Transit said this will allow for better image capture on the platforms.
The Calgary Police Service, Transit Safety, Community Services, Corporate Security, 911 and social service agencies will be continuing to work together.
In fall 2022, 370 tickets were issued and 46 people arrested as a part of transit enforcement.
“We have heard from Calgarians, and want you know we are working hard to make Transit in Calgary safer,” said Calgary’s City Manager, David Duckworth.
Still more needs to be done: Coun. McLean
Earlier this year, Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean pushed for a review into a closed transit system. That would be a fare-gate system that would ensure people had paid for a ride and should be on the platforms.
Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot also called for a closed-system pilot after the Marlborough incident in November.
Calgary Transit is looking further into a closed system.
Chabot said Monday that it’s a complex issue. Plus, a closed system might not work at all stations.
“It is something that we’ll have to look at looked at more comprehensively before we can make a decision on that,” he said.
The Ward 10 councillor said he thought the updates brought forward Monday were good news overall.
“I’m sure the residents throughout the city, the taxpayers will be happy to hear that council has responded through the budget, and they’ve heard their concerns, and they’re going to do what we can to improve the safety and security on our transit system,” he said.
“Ultimately, that’s what we need to get people back on our system.”
McLean said transit safety has been a top issue since he was elected last October. He said he’s been talking about it since day one. McLean said if increased ridership is a goal of Calgary Transit, safety has to be a priority.
“It seems to be making a lot more news and every councillor wants to make it their core issue,” he said.
“More needs to be done.”