The City of Calgary announces immediate actions to make Transit safer
The City of Calgary announced today an immediate action plan to help address safety concerns on its Transit system, including a combination of increased public safety personnel on the system, and crime prevention through environmental design changes. This work is in addition to actions taken over the past year.
“While we know this issue is felt by other Canadian cities experiencing a similar increase in criminal behaviour and disorder in their Transit systems, this does not take away the imperative for immediate action in our city to make our system safer,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “It will take all orders of government, and partners together to make real and meaningful improvement. The steps we are making today is crucial to restoring safety and trust with Calgarians.”
To increase riders’ feelings of safety and confidence in taking Transit, effective immediately we are deploying additional safety personnel:
- We have immediately doubled contracted security guards at stations from 8 to 16 and will triple to 24 by the end of April.
- We have increased overnight patrols, pairing police officers and community peace officers, from four nights to seven nights a week.
- We have redeployed peace officers from other operational areas to Transit areas of high concern along 7th avenue.
- We will proactively be sending peace officers when we observe suspicious behaviour or gatherings, to increase our uniformed presence at that location as a deterrent for escalation into violence.
- We will continue to evaluate the impact of increased resources and will engage Council in discussion about further investment in May.
The City also recognizes the way we design, maintain and run our Transit infrastructure can have an impact on crime prevention. Some changes that will take effect immediately include:
- running announcements at stations indicating the area is under surveillance and for Transit users only
- increasing cleaning of CTrain stations
- creating a rapid response to repairing infrastructure damaged due to vandalism, etc.
- removing benches in identified areas to indicate a ‘no waiting’ zone to reduce loitering
“We know the critical role that Transit plays in the lives of Calgarians – it’s how they get to work and school, to be with their friends and loved ones, and to get to their appointments and activities,” said Aaron Coon, Chief for Public Vehicle Standards with Emergency Management and Community Safety. “We ride the system every day, and we fully understand the issues and the concerns felt by the community. Whether you use it occasionally or it’s your lifeline, I want you to know we care deeply about making it the safest system it can be. We’ve done a lot already and will continue to do more.”
Today’s announcement builds on several existing strategies to improve safety on Transit.
In July, Council allocated $5.9 million in emergency funding for additional Transit community peace officers (a 25 per cent increase). Currently 14 of those officers have already been deployed, and another 14 are in training now and will graduate in May. This funding also included 14 new Transit station security guards who have been deployed, with an additional 17 being hired by May 2023. Six Calgary Transit ambassador teams have also been added to assist with wayfinding and to be a visible presence for riders.
Other recent safety measures include increased CCTV surveillance and upgraded lighting on CTrain platforms for all downtown stations - allowing security cameras to capture clearer footage of platform activity and more visibility across and within platforms.
The Calgary Police Service continues to ensure areas of highest need are a priority for proactive patrols and ongoing operations continue to focus on violent crime, drug trafficking and disruption of social disorder. "While our officers are leading with support and compassion, make no mistake that enforcement is a critical component of the equation to public safety," says Chief Constable Mark Neufeld. "There are no illegitimate users of transit, but there are illegitimate uses of transit. Our expectation is that public spaces remain safe for those that are using them for their intended purpose. Anyone who jeopardizes that safety, will be dealt with accordingly."
Backgrounder: Transit safety improvements is attached.