City to explore councillor's turnstile idea for certain CTrain stations

City councillor Dan McLean proposed the idea at city council Tuesday, citing rising concerns about public safety.

Councillor Dan McLean proposed idea, citing public safety concerns

Passengers wait for the train at the 3rd Street SW station in downtown Calgary last December. (Ose Irete/CBC)

The City of Calgary is exploring the idea of using a turnstile system at certain LRT stations as a potential way to improve public safety.

City councillor Dan McLean raised the idea at a city council meeting Tuesday. 

"I took a ride-along with Calgary Transit peace officers and I was, frankly, a little horrified by what I saw — open drug use, violence, alcohol, a lot of fare skipping," he said.

McLean said he'd like to see a pilot project where the city can assess if a "closed system," or a turnstile system, would reduce public disorder and make riders feel safer. 

"I've heard from many Calgarians who are very concerned about safety on the CTrain, many who now refuse to take public transit," he said.

"Something has to be done, so we should be looking at all options."

The system currently operates on a proof-of-payment or honour system. 

McLean said he isn't looking to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to reconfigure the whole system right now, but he'd like a pilot project to run at either the station in his ward, Ward 13, or at a station in each quadrant of the city to see if it's successful.

"With new technologies, surely there are more effective ways to better control our CTrain platforms to enhance public safety."

The city says it has hired more peace officers, added police officers to patrols and hired private security guards to improve public safety on the system.

It agreed to look at McLean's idea as part as an overall security refresh for the transit system.

"Calgary Transit is committed to providing safe and clean systems for their customers," said general manager of transportation for the city, Doug Morgan.

"Preliminary assessment shows that implementing a closed system will have many challenges, including accessibility, especially for people with disabilities and, of course, cost."

The city said it will look at whether moving to a closed, or partially closed, system would impact customer experience, accessibility or just shift social disorder to other areas of the city.

It's unclear when those findings will come in or when a pilot project would begin.

"Sooner than later would be my preference," McLean said.

"Let's give it a try."

With files from Scott Dippel


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