By Nazeefa Ahmed, September 8 2022—
Calgary Transit will increase patrolling officers and guards at train stations due to security concerns among riders in hopes of increasing ridership for the fall.
On July 26, City Council was briefed on their strategy which included three safety investments. Peace officers will increase by 25 per cent, 31 transit security guards will be hired to patrol stations and back-end resources will be improved to support the active security team. New recruits will be trained for 25 weeks and are expected to join the system by the first quarter of 2023.
The influx of officers is a part of a greater recovery plan by transit to increase transit users in the city. Currently, Calgary Transit has 70 per cent of pre-pandemic level ridership and is expecting that number to increase. Riders this fall will include the many University of Calgary students who rely on Calgary Transit for their daily commute to campus.
This year, there have been many reports of harassment, drug use and verbal abuse on transit.
Lucie Edwardson, CBC journalist, witnessed three overdoses during one C-Train ride in June. On Aug. 17, two teenage girls were verbally abused by an older woman, and the teenagers were reportedly left scared and upset. Most recently, on Aug. 18, a man was found dead at Shaganappi Point C-Train station.
Efforts have been made to tackle criminal activity prior to hiring patrolling officers as well. During a four-day crackdown on transit crime in July, Calgary Police and transit officials issued 327 warrants, laid 86 criminal charges and confiscated $30 000 worth of illicit drugs. The crackdown prompted Calgary Police Services (CPS) Inspector Scott Todd to comment on how the presence of officers improves safety on transit.
“Everyone deserves the right to feel safe while accessing public transit in our city,” said Todd. “Through our efforts, we charged numerous individuals, issued several hundred tickets and were able to take a significant amount of drugs off our streets.”
In a statement to the Gauntlet, Students’ Union (SU) president Nicole Schmidt expressed concern for the lack of safety on transit and stated that students will be considered when Calgary Transit makes such decisions in the future.
“The SU has met with members of City Council and their staff to talk about transit,” wrote Schmidt. “We recognize that transit in Calgary has become less safe and students have raised that issue with us. We will continue to work with the Council to discuss the different transit safety options available for students and we will ensure students are properly consulted when it comes to making transit safer.”
More information about Calgary Transit’s safety strategy can be found on their website.