Calgary

City deploys multi-level plan to improve safety for Calgary transit passengers

There will be more peace officers on transit platforms, transit patrols by the city's corporate security guards and enhanced surveillance.

Recent violent incidents at CTrain platforms prompted the response

The city announced Monday that there will be a multi-level approach to increase transit safety in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Recent security incidents at CTrain platforms have prompted the city to make operational changes to improve transit safety.

There will be more peace officers on transit platforms, transit patrols by the city's corporate security guards and enhanced surveillance.

"This is a complex issue, and the city is making operational improvements that will enhance safety for transit riders and the broader Calgary community," the city said in a statement.

"Solutions need to involve a highly orchestrated effort in order to see results over time."

In November, two incidents at the Marlborough CTrain station — one was a hatchet attack, the other was a brawl involving a flare gun used to set a man on fire — had city officials reconsidering safety measures for public transit.

Increased transit patrols

The city said it is working through the recruitment and training of new peace officers scheduled for 2023. Last week, six more recruits graduated. 

When the recruitment process is complete, there will be a 25 per cent increase of police officers, bringing the total to  141 officers on the system.

There is also ongoing recruitment and training of enhanced security guards to actively patrol the system. They will have more authority than regular security guards.

When that process is complete, the city will have 31 security guards in total.

Wide shot inside a Calgary Transit station, with one man in flames.
Calgary police released video in November of an incident that took place at the Marlborough CTrain station. The video shows a man’s jacket on fire after another man shot a flare gun at him twice. (Calgary Police Service)

'Improved perceptions of safety'

A pilot program, the Calgary Transit Ambassadors, kicked off Monday. It's a team of transit employees who will increase visible presence and help with wayfinding and answering questions.

It comes after a survey conducted by the city reported that customers feel safer when there is increased "perceptions of safety." 

"The findings from the study showed that ambassadors are an effective way to help improve customer perceptions of safety, and it's important that they are wearing branded clothing," said Sharon Fleming, director of Calgary Transit.

"These new ambassadors will help customers feel safe and secure, knowing we are with them on their trip."

She added that all of the Seventh Avenue platforms, from Downtown-West Kerby to City Hall, are getting a lighting upgrade. It's expected those changes will be done by the end of March.

Enhanced surveillance

The city is increasing staffing levels at its operations control centre. That's where they dispatch officers, monitor closed-circuit cameras and respond to safety texts from customers.

Calgary Transit Ambassadors will also alert the operations control centre when they come across issues or witness incidents.

"We have heard from Calgarians, and want you to know we are working hard to make transit in Calgary safer," said city manager David Duckworth.

"This is a highly co-ordinated, multi-agency effort involving the Calgary Police Service, Transit Safety, Community Services, 911 and Calgary's many community social service partners, stepping-up their collaborative efforts to increase safety for Calgarians."

In the fall 2022, CPS and transit officers issued 370 tickets and arrested 46 people as part of transit enforcement.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of the story stated that there will be a 25 per cent, or 141, increase in Transit Peace Officers. In fact, there will be an increase of 25 per cent that will bring the overall total of Peace Officers to 141. Incorrect information was provided to CBC News by the City of Calgary.
    Dec 06, 2022 4:18 PM MT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Omar Sherif is a journalist with CBC Calgary covering evenings and weekends. He can be contacted by email at omar.sherif@cbc.ca

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