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Edmonton transit using ‘gender-based techniques’ to enhance safety and security

Click to play video 'New text option to report suspicious incidents to ETS' New text option to report suspicious incidents to ETS
The City of Edmonton wants to make transit riders feel safer when they are taking the bus or LRT, particularly for women. As Sarah Komadina reports, they've used gender-based analysis to come up with a new plan. – Nov 10, 2020

In an effort to make riders feel safer on Edmonton transit, the city has announced a new, gender-based approach to safety.

Starting Friday, the Edmonton Transit Service will launch a Transit Watch text service that will allow riders to discreetly report any safety or security concerns on transit like harassment, disorder and suspicious behaviour.

Click to play video 'Edmonton woman assaulted on LRT doesn’t know why help took so long' Edmonton woman assaulted on LRT doesn’t know why help took so long
Edmonton woman assaulted on LRT doesn’t know why help took so long – Nov 15, 2019

Riders can text the existing Transit Watch phone number, 780-442-4900, and the message will be delivered directly to staff in the control centre 24/7.

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Read more: Edmonton woman assaulted on LRT wants to know why help took so long

The control centre will respond to the text and will send any appropriate resources.

“We’ve heard from women and girls about the importance of having a discreet way to report safety and security concerns on transit,” Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, director of business integration for ETS, said in a news release on Tuesday.

“This safety initiative provides another layer of reporting that will help empower our riders to report concerns.

Click to play video 'A closer look at transit safety in Edmonton' A closer look at transit safety in Edmonton
A closer look at transit safety in Edmonton – Oct 2, 2019

Hotton-MacDonald said the system will have the added benefit of insight and data that will allow ETS to strategically deploy resources to the right place at the right time.

Read more: Edmonton Transit begins installation of driver shields on full bus fleet

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Since 2018, ETS has seen a 300 per cent increase in reporting incidents. The city points to improved surveillance, personnel presence and communication efforts that outline how to report concerns as reasons for the increase.

The city also reported a 30 per cent decrease in criminal occurrences and a 50 per cent decrease in mischief at LRT stations and transit centres with security guards.

Click to play video 'Edmonton to adopt transit security improvements' Edmonton to adopt transit security improvements
Edmonton to adopt transit security improvements – Oct 9, 2018

In 2018, council invested $22 million in an effort to further enhance safety and security on transit.

“There’s still lots of work to do in our strategic safety plan, but I’m very proud of the community work we’re doing and the direction we’re taking,” Hotton-MacDonald said.

Read more: Edmonton looking at options to help those who use transit to stay warm during COVID-19 crisis

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The city said it worked with community groups and agencies like the Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton, the ETS advisory board and members of the Edmonton Safe City Community Collaboration Committee to better understand the root causes of safety concerns that women and girls have.