Commuters frustrated with Calgary Transit locking 4 LRT stations 24 hours a day

Calgary Transit has temporarily locked four of its CTrain stations for 24 hours a day despite cold temperatures. Some commuters are not happy with the decision, but transit says it made the decision to prevent the large gatherings staff were seeing.

Transit says it's to prevent large gatherings at the stations

Calgary Transit does not have a date for when it will reopen the doors to the four CTrain stations that are now locked around the clock. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Calgary Transit has temporarily locked four of its CTrain stations 24 hours a day despite cold temperatures.

Some commuters are not happy about this, but transit says it made the decision to prevent the large gatherings staff were seeing.

Earlier in January, three CTrain stations were closed overnight to keep out homeless sleepers. But now the doors are locked around the clock at the Southland, Heritage, Anderson and Erlton Stampede stations. 

"We still saw gathering during the daytime, and because those buildings are able to be closed and customers can still access the platform, we decided to move forward to closing them for 24 hours," said Stephen Tauro, communications and information lead for Calgary Transit. 

These stations were closed earlier in the pandemic to allow officers to be sent to other stations instead of enforcing physical distancing, he added.

"It's very complicated. The decision wasn't easy. There's many things that we have to take into consideration. Things like cleanliness, customer safety and comfort," said Tauro.

"With COVID and the spread of Omicron, we saw that even within our operator ranks how fast that can spread and impact service. And then also ensuring that the individuals who are seeking shelter in these stations are getting access to proper shelters and proper support."

Calgary Transit is working with outreach organizations like the DOAP team to try to help people in need of services and shelter. 

Cold commuters

For commuters like Mount Royal University student Maddie Starr, the closure of these stations means long waits in the cold when she arrives at the Heritage CTrain station. 

Lately, she's been huddling inside a heated glass bus stop, but she's concerned about how crowded it's becoming in the small space, and the number of people who are still left standing outside. 

"I was concerned primarily about frostbite and cold exposure, because with the wind as it was, we were well over the time it would take to develop frostbite if anybody didn't have gloves or a hat or something," said Starr. 

"Additionally, a lot of us wanted to get into that bus stop to avoid the wind as much as we could. That many people cramming into that small space during the pandemic is a bit unnerving. We were not able to socially distance, but there is no other place to shelter."

Starr said she is frustrated that as a paying commuter she isn't able to access the station.

"It made me feel very angry at the lack of concern for commuters, as well as anybody who would just simply need to take shelter from the cold, because it's very dangerous conditions to be forced to be standing in."

Planning ahead

Tauro said he encourages riders to plan ahead and dress warmly during cold weather.

Ridership is at about 40 per cent of what it used to be before the pandemic, while the level of service being offered is about 75 per cent of what it was. However, Tauro said that is not the reason behind locking the station's doors.

"The main decision driver for these four stations is that access to the stations or the platform is still available."

Calgary Transit said there is no estimated time for when these station will reopen their doors. 

With files from Lucie Edwardson


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