Calgary

Calgary Transit to boost security measures as more people return to work

Calgary Transit says it's been aware of increased social disorder since ridership dropped at the start of the pandemic. Now, as more people begin to head back into the office, it says it's hoping to make CTrains and LRT stations safer.

City says it's aware CTrain safety has been ‘topic of concern’

A decrease of both frequent commuters and security patrols led to increased social disturbances on the city's transit system since the start of the pandemic. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Robert Godfrey, a frequent Calgary Transit user, says since the COVID-19 pandemic began he's watched people sell drugs, fight, overdose and publicly urinate during his commute. 

"He pulled his pants back up, business as usual, and then ironically got off at the next stop," he says of one encounter he remembers. 

Calgary Transit says it's been aware of increased social disorder since ridership dropped at the start of the pandemic. Now, as more people begin to head back into the office, it says it's hoping to make CTrains and LRT stations across the city safer. 

Starting Monday and ramping up through the week, more security guards, bylaw and peace officers will be present on both platforms and CTrain cars. The patrols will be spread out over a number of shifts throughout the day, in addition to peak transit hours. 

"We need to get to a point where some of that social disorder disperses and we can return our transit system back to what it once was when it was busier," said Calgary Transit director Sharon Flemming. 

"We know that it's a topic of concern for many Calgarians."

Fleming says that before the current collaboration with bylaw and Calgary police, the transit system tried a variety of other approaches in an attempt to stem disturbances, including shutting down CTrain platforms where a high concentration of incidents were reported. 

Several stations in the city's southwest will remain closed until officials are confident they can be reopened safely, Calgary Transit says.

While it's difficult to pinpoint the reason the city's transit system became more unsafe at the onset of the pandemic, Fleming believes it's in part due to decreased patrols which led to a higher concentration of "non-destination travelers."

Fleming says the increased security measures will be monitored over the next couple of weeks and re-evaluated toward the end of March. 

In a statement, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) said it is committed to supporting Calgary Transit and working with other partners, such as the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership Team, to ensure that vulnerable people are connected to the resources they need. 

"Everyone in our city should be able to access public transportation without fearing for their safety," CPS said.

With files from Colleen Underwood

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