ETS’ gender-based analysis delivers safety results in its first year

Nov. 11, 2020
Reporting has increased, while criminal occurrences have been reduced and the transit service is set to launch a new text alert feature.

Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) shared progress made to improve its safety and security statistics using a gender-based analysis (GBA+). ETS is one of the first transit agencies in North America to implement the approach, which is based on diverse and inclusive community perspectives.  

“As part of City Council’s ongoing work to make Edmonton a safer city, we’ve been working directly with community partners on initiatives that will further enhance safety on transit, particularly for women and girls,” said Councilor Bev Esslinger. “This important safety work is being driven by the community, for the community.”  

Esslinger noted the city co-hosted the Safety Cities and Safe Public Global Leaders Forum with United Nations Women in 2018 and the conference’s impact continues to be felt as the city works to ensure public spaces are safe and empowering for all Edmontonians.

In 2018, the Edmonton City Council approved investing more than C$22 million (US$16.9 million) into transit safety improvements. ETS reports that in 2019, the transit service saw:

  • A 300-percent increase in reporting incidents because of improved surveillance, personnel presence and communication efforts that outline how to report concerns.
  • A 30-percent decrease in criminal occurrences.
  • And a 50-percent decrease in mischief at light-rail stations and transit centers with contracted security guards.

The ETS approach involves directly connecting with community groups and agencies, such as the Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE), the ETS Advisory Board and members of the Edmonton Safe City Community Collaboration Committee, which includes Indigenous organizations, academia and others, to better understand root causes of safety concerns with a focus on the safety of women and girls.

“By incorporating diverse perspectives and actioning community ideas to further enhance safety for women and girls, the transit system will be safer for everyone,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, director of Business Integration, ETS. “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.”

Transit Watch Text: Community feedback in action

ETS reported in March it was working on a text alert feature that would allow for discreet reporting of safety and security concerns based on feedback it gained through its work with WAVE and the ETS Advisory Board.

ETS will launch a Transit Watch text message service on Nov. 13 as part of its overall safety improvement efforts and delivering on feedback the Edmonton community shared with the transit service.

Residents can use the new Transit Watch text message service to report safety and security concerns on transit, such as harassment, disorder and suspicious behavior by sending a text to the existing Transit Watch number, which will go directly to ETS staff in the Control Center. ETS says the Control Center will respond to the text message and dispatch appropriate resources, if required, but the agency notes all emergencies should still be reported to 9-1-1.

“We’ve heard from women and girls about the importance of having a discreet way to report safety and security concerns on transit,” said Hotton-MacDonald. “This safety initiative provides another layer of reporting that will help empower our riders to report concerns. More reporting also gives us valuable insight and data to help us strategically deploy resources to the right place, at the right time.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.