Edmonton City Council adopts updated passenger conduct bylaw

June 9, 2022
The updated bylaw prohibits the visible use of illicit substances in transit spaces, which the city says will strengthen the existing rules.

The Edmonton City Council in Alberta, Canada, has approved an amended Conduct of Transit Passengers bylaw that the city says strengthens existing rules and enhances the safety of transit vehicles and facilities.

The amended bylaws prohibit remaining on transit property and engaging in activities not related to using Edmonton Transit Service and visibly using controlled substances while on transit property. Federal laws regulate the use of controlled substances and the city notes in a report that “the visible use in public spaces, such as transit property, interferes with the safe and comfortable enjoyment of these spaces and is not acceptable conduct within transit facilities.” Fines for the newly included offense will be C$250 (US$199.13), which is consistent with existing fines associated with inappropriate behavior.

“Transit centers and [light-rail] stations are intended to be busy and vibrant, and move thousands of riders to their destinations each day—conveniently, reliably and above all, safely,'' said Edmonton Transit Service Branch Manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald. “Everyone deserves a safe transit experience, and the amended bylaw is one of many actions we are taking to increase safety for everyone within our transit spaces.”

The city explains the amended bylaw provides Transit Peace Officers and other law enforcement personnel with an additional option that will help ensure people use transit vehicles and spaces as they are intended.

“Transit Peace Officers will engage, educate and encourage people to abide by community standards; however, enforcement is sometimes necessary to keep our transit network safe,” said Community Standards and Neighborhoods Branch Manager David Jones. “In coordination with the Edmonton Police Service and Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, our peace officers have and continue to play a critical role in preventing crime and responding to concerns and people in distress who need support.”

In a survey presented to the Edmonton City Council in May, respondents noted larger societal issues, including drug use and transit spaces being used as shelters, contributed to the perception and experience of safety in and around transit.

The amended bylaws are one element of a wider push by the city and Edmonton Transit Service to bolster the feeling of safety in and around transit property. In February, the city approved the Transit Safety Plan that builds on investments already made in the safety of the transit system, increases coordination with partners and better integrates support teams and services provided by the Community Outreach Transit Team.

“Using a system of support, enforcement and infrastructure, the city of Edmonton continues to take a multilayered approach to help increase safety for everyone using our transit spaces and network. Providing safe and comfortable access to the transit system helps build a greater sense of community safety and well-being in Edmonton,” the city included in a statement following the vote on the amended transit bylaw.

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.