Edmonton and its partners continue efforts to boost safety of transit system

April 30, 2021
The city and its policing, transit and community outreach partners have developed several initiatives that will bring a collaborative approach to enhancing transit safety.

The city of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and community partners are doubling down on their efforts to boost safety across the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) network.

A recent report found challenges persist on the system, but most infractions could be classified as minor. According to information shared by Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, ETS branch manager, approximately 80 percent of incidents involve loitering, trespassing or a violation of face covering protocols, while one percent involve offenses against another person.

Hotton-MacDonald explains there has been an increase in reporting within the community, a sign she finds encouraging as it makes ETS and its security partners aware of situations and allows for intervention to occur.

The city of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and community partners are continuing to take an integrated, multi-layered approach to further enhance safety and security on transit with a goal to create safer outcomes and support across the system.

Hotton-MacDonald noted a cross-functional team has been working together since January on safety efforts. The EPS Crime Disruption Teams also currently deploy proactive policing on the transit system. And additional security guards were deployed at certain transit facilities in February and March of this year as additional support and to provide insight to the ETS Control Centre on when further security was needed. ETS says that in addition to providing on site surveillance, security guards help those who are distressed and play a key role in the city’s multi-layered safety framework.

Weekly public engagement sessions were held in March and April at select transit facilities with the EPS Community Engagement team and Centre High students “to help activate spaces and provide safety information.”

Edmonton City Manager Andre Corbould says the safety will always be the city’s top priority.

“Since the pandemic began, we have been working day in and day out on enhancing safety measures in our public spaces, and we will continue to amplify efforts to keep Edmontonians and staff safe,” said Corbould.

The next strategic safety steps will be introduced in May when the city and EPS will deploy joint operational teams made up of police officers and transit peace officers to areas on the transit system where data indicates proactive patrols are needed. The city notes these joint operational teams are in addition to the regular transit peace officer patrols. Inspector Angela Kemp says the initiative is designed to reduce criminality and promote positive social behavior.

The city and its partners have also developed a Community Outreach Transit Team model, similar to a successful model deployed in Calgary, where transit peace officers are partnered with outreach workers to provide better access to support for those who are marginalized. That support could be to basic needs such as food and clothing on up to securing appropriate housing as needed. A summer launch, likely late June, is being targeted for this initiative.

While the city highlighted the newer initiatives, there are many safety features in place throughout the ETS system including:

  • Security guards are onsite at 21 transit centers and light-rail stations.
  • Customers can text/call Transit Watch at 780.442.4900.
  • Emergency blue phones at all transit centers/light-rail stations connect to the ETS Control Centre.
  • Red push buttons and yellow stripes on trains connect directly to the train operator.
  • More than 3,800 security cameras monitor transit service across the system.

“There is a large team of cross-functional staff working on these security challenges daily, and we are fully committed to providing a safe transit network and transit experience for Edmontonians and staff,” said Hotton-MacDonald. “Our highest priority is the safety of the community, transit riders and transit staff.”

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.