City of Calgary reiterates enhanced surveillance for CTrain stations

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary transit increases patrols, improves lighting and launches ambassador program'
City of Calgary transit increases patrols, improves lighting and launches ambassador program
WATCH: It's been a chronic issue for weeks with continued calls to improve safety. Monday, City of Calgary officials responded to growing concerns on the transit system. Jill Croteau has more on what's changing. – Dec 5, 2022

The City of Calgary is reiterating its promise for enhanced security on public transit systems in a safety update on Monday afternoon.

According to a news release, the city said it is actively recruiting and training new peace officers to patrol CTrain stations. Six transit peace officers graduated last week, the city said, and 14 more are set to complete their training in early 2023.

The second group of transit peace officers will complete their training next February.

The city said it will have 25 per cent more transit peace officers patrolling the system when the recruitment process is complete. This will bring the total of transit peace officers to 141.

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The city is also looking to recruit and train 31 enhanced security guards to actively patrol the system. These security guards will have more authority than regular security, but the city did not elaborate on what those authorities are.

In addition to new peace officers, the city also announced it will increase staffing levels at Calgary Transit’s operations control centre which dispatches officers and monitors CCTV cameras. The increased staffing levels aim to enhance the city’s ability to monitor 1,200 CCTV cameras and deploy response teams as required.

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Calgary Transit Ambassadors, a team designed to increase visible presence at CTrain stations, will alert the centre when they witness or come across issues or incidents. Transit ambassadors will be on platforms and trains to support passengers.

Calgary Transit director Sharon Fleming said a Bloomberg Centre of Public Innovation review found ambassadors are an “effective way” to help improve customer perceptions of safety on the transit system.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Transit vies for millions more in funding as riders raise safety concerns'
Calgary Transit vies for millions more in funding as riders raise safety concerns

“I think it’s a great initiative trying to increase the safety and security on our transit system,” Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot told reporters on Monday.

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“We want to try to  get people back on the system and we have to ensure we provide safety and security… This ambassador program will be an excellent addition in the downtown core.”

The update comes after Calgary Transit announced its relaunch strategy in April, which included enhanced security personnel amid safety concerns from riders.

Safety on Calgary Transit has been a growing concern during the pandemic, with CTrain riders saying they often feel unsafe while using the transit system.

Previously, the public transit agency said the City of Calgary earmarked $5.9 million to train and recruit new transit peace officers.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek also said the city is still waiting for provincial funding to help improve transit safety, which was announced in October.

The city said it will also be working with social service programs, such as Alpha House, to provide a multi-faceted approach to public transit safety.

“We’re not just using uniformed police officers,” said Aaron Coon, chief of the city’s public vehicle standards division. “Our peace officers and security officers provide a full facet of support for Calgarians.

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“We’re raising issues around security and we’re using that information to help support how we deploy resources across the transit line.”

Chabot said he is still pursuing a closed system for some CTrain stations in Calgary, which will only allow people to enter stations if they paid a fare.

However, the system is not feasible for some stations because of fire safety concerns. A report about the possibility of a closed transit system will be published in Q1 2023.

“A lot of members of the public think it’s a great idea and even some people in the police department believe it’s a good solution. It’s a very complex issue, however, and it’s not that simple,” Chabot said.

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