City asks young people what would make them feel safer on CTrains

Would a better smelling CTrain encourage more people to ride? The City of Calgary will put the idea to the test on Saturday.

3 concepts to be tried at engagement session on a train this weekend

The City of Calgary is inviting people between the ages of 16 and 30 to an engagement session to improve experiences on CTrains. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Would a better smelling CTrain encourage more people to ride? The City of Calgary will put the idea to the test on Saturday.

It's inviting people between the ages of 16 and 30 to an engagement session which will see a CTrain parked near a northeast station so various concepts can be tested.

Besides trying out various hypoallergenic scents, the city is going to showcase the idea of having transit ambassadors on board trains, as well as improvements to a texting service that riders could use to report security situations on the LRT system.

The lead for the city's equity initiatives team, Cathie Christenson, said the ideas all came from young people.

She said in 30 minutes, participants who have signed up through the city's website will go through three parked CTrain cars near the McKnight/Westwinds station to learn about the initiatives and give their feedback.

The overarching point of this work is to come up with ways to ensure Calgary retains and attracts youth. A safer LRT system is part of that picture.

"Most of what we are prototyping has a principle that if it is going to make an experience better for a young person, chances are it's going to make an experience better for a senior citizen as well, or for others who may face some barriers to experiences in Calgary," she said.

As for what a positive smell for a CTrain car might include, Christenson said they have some ideas. She said they realize it should be something fairly neutral.

"We thought about lemon because it might have an association with clean. But we are going to bring several scents and we will get feedback on what scents are actually more attractive to people."

Besides seeing what participants think of scent diffusers on the CTrain, the city is also asking for feedback on transit ambassadors.

Similar to its downtown ambassador program, Christenson said these helpers would assist travellers with transit information and act as an additional set of eyes and ears on trains.

As well, the city will provide participants with information on a new type of text service which would make it easier for train riders to report security situations on board.

Once the city has feedback from this weekend's session, Christenson said that it hopes to try some of these ideas in regular CTrain service by the end of this year.

This initiative comes from a public innovation project that the City of Calgary is participating in through the Bloomberg Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Calgary is one of 14 cities worldwide participating in the project, which aims to advance public sector innovation by marrying research with initiatives to transform public services.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has been at CBC News for more than two decades across four provinces. His roles have included legislative reporter, news reader, assignment editor and national reporter. When not at Calgary's City Hall, it's still all politics, all the time.


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