CTrain Help button a critical piece of Transit safety

After a sunny day at the Calgary Zoo on Wednesday, a mother and her daughter stood on the busy CTrain platform waiting for the train to take them home when a parent’s worst nightmare happened: the pair got separated.

Unable to locate her daughter, the mother rushed to press the ‘Help’ button on the CTrain platform, an experience familiar to many Calgarians. “Our transit teams respond to roughly 24,000 Help button requests per month,” said Piotr Zielinski, Customer Information and Services Coordinator for Calgary Transit.

As soon as the mother pushed the button, cameras located on the platform displayed her and her surroundings to dispatch officers who answered the call. The system is designed to allow emergency dispatchers to observe and react to calls for help as efficiently as possible – audio and visual communication with the person pressing the button is immediate.

Thanks to the mother’s quick thinking, the dispatchers were able to locate the lost child and reunite the pair within four minutes.

The Help button, available 24/7 and placed in strategic locations on platforms, has been a critical piece of transit safety since the 1980s. The button provides the quickest possible response to emergency situations and allows accessibility services,  such as use of elevator, to patrons.

Emergency services aren’t only available on the platforms: CTrains also have these Help buttons. When a rider presses the Help button while on a train, they are in two-way communication with the operator of the train who will report any issues on behalf of the rider. In recent years, CTrains have also been equipped with a Help strip which functions in a similar way.

If a train is between stations when the button or strip is pressed, the operator will proceed to the next station and head to the car where the button or strip was activated to address the issue and will escalate if needed.

There are other ways to report safety and security concerns on transit:
By text message through the Transit Watch system, 24/7
To discreetly report immediate safety or security concerns, text us at 74100 anywhere, anytime. Our staff will assist you and dispatch officers, if needed. Standard message rates apply.

By phone 24/7
Call us at 403-262-1000, option 1, to report your safety or security concerns.

Besides reporting an incident when you see one or are part of one, here are some safety tips when using transit:

  • Familiarize yourself with bus stops and CTrain stations.
  • Know emergency exit locations.
  • Create a plan for maintaining contact with family members, in case you are separated.
  • Create a plan for maintaining contact with close friends and colleagues during an extended emergency period.
  • Identify alternate routes and means of reaching your meeting point in the event your main route is impassable.
  • Make sure your emergency information and contact numbers are with you at all times.
  • In the event of an emergency, remain calm and listen for station, train or bus announcements.
  • Follow Calgary Transit employee instructions.