Perception of safety on Calgary Transit improving: City

Click to play video: 'Calgary transit survey suggests security changes having an impact'
Calgary transit survey suggests security changes having an impact
WATCH: A new survey done by the City of Calgary suggests changes to transit security are having an impact. Ina Sidhu reports. – Feb 7, 2024

The City of Calgary says perceptions of safety on Calgary Transit is improving, according to survey results published on Wednesday.

In a news release Wednesday morning, 72 per cent of the 500 Calgarians surveyed said they feel safe riding a CTrain during the day, up from 67 per cent in May 2023 when the survey was last conducted.

The survey also suggests 39 per cent of those surveyed said they feel safe while riding a CTrain after dark, compared with 33 per cent in May. It also suggests 34 per cent feel safe while waiting for a CTrain after dark, compared with 27 per cent in May.

Overall, the city says 49 per cent of Calgarians surveyed avoid taking the bus or CTrain due to safety concerns, two percentage points higher compared to May 2023 (47 per cent). The city noted Calgarians said they feel safer using buses than the CTrain (75 per cent).

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“Calgarians want and deserve the very best — and safest — experience using our transit system, whether riding our LRT, buses or shuttle vehicles,” said Kay Choi, community safety and well-being lead for the City of Calgary.

“I’m encouraged to see we have been able to move the needle on safety, and recognize we still have a long way to go to help Calgarians feel safe in and around our CTrains.”

The city also said 71 per cent of respondents said Calgary is overall a safe city to live in. Of those, 95 per cent said they feel safe walking alone in their community during the day and 75 per cent said they feel safe walking alone at night.

Around 40 per cent of respondents said Calgary is “more safe” when compared to other large Canadian cities, the city added.

The survey results come after council approved $8.7 million in one-time funding last June to add 39 peace officers to the city’s transit public safety team. The city said peace officers hired through the program increased visibility on the transit system and increased public interactions with officers.

The city said the investment also paid for “enhanced cleaning” of CTrain stations, infrastructure improvements and more frequent patrols.

An additional $5.9 million in emergency funding was approved in council in July 2022 to hire 28 transit community peace officers and 31 security guards to patrol the transit system and provide customer service.

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Council also approved the Public Transit Safety Strategy last October, which aims to improve response times for people experiencing social disturbances and other safety issues while using transit.

An increased number of transit peace officers will be strategically placed along the transit system and will have increased authority to respond to safety incidents. Calgary 911 will co-ordinate the dispatch of calls and Calgary Police Service officers will be part of an integrated response with the transit peace officers.

“By investing $15 million annually, Council has already seen progress towards improved safety on transit,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a statement.

“Together with community and law enforcement partners, we continue to work collaboratively to address safety concerns in our growing city.”

Calgary Police Service Supt. Scott Boyd said he is happy to hear about the results of the survey.

“In general, we are happy to hear this increased perception through the survey, but we recognize that it may not be reflective of everyone’s experience, and we know that there’s still more work to do,” he told QR Calgary on Wednesday afternoon.

The Perspectives on Calgary Survey is a survey that focuses on perceptions of public safety and runs three times in the past two years: July 19 to 28, 2022; May 16 to 26, 2023; and Nov. 13 to 23, 2023. The survey gathers information from 500 randomly selected Calgarians, according to the City of Calgary. The city said the margin of error is 4.4 percentage points, or 19 times out of 20. The next survey is set to take place spring of this year.

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— with files from Adam Toy, Global News.

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