No recommendation for restricting transit stations to fare-paying customers: report
A report to the city of Calgary’s infrastructure and planning committee did not recommend closing transit stations to only fare-paying customers, as some city councillors had expected.
In fact, the report's opening lines bluntly said, "There is no correlation between the provision of fare gates and increased transit safety on existing systems with fare gates."
The study look at other cities like Toronto and Vancouver, as well as a few in the U.S., and determined a closed system not only isn’t safer but would also be prohibitively expensive.
"One of the biggest distinctions we’ve seen between ours in other cities is that their grade separated systems," said transit consultant David Cooper. "They were already systems they had limited entrances - maybe one or two accesses."
The report was before the council committee at the same time as Calgary police shut down the Marlborough LRT station following an overnight altercation on the LRT platform sent one man to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
That wasn’t lost on councillor Jennifer Wyness, who expressed strong opposition to the report, which calls for increased lighting and security as well as a beefed-up security presence, while eschewing the even a partially closed system.
Calgary councillor Jennifer Wyness disagreed with a new report that says a closed system wouldn't make the CTrain safer
"My expectations were that we wouldn't have said that closed system was not applicable. I wanted to see what worked and what didn't about it," said Wyness. "I’m unimpressed (with this report) because Calgarians are not safe on our transit system.
"Someone was stabbed today," she added, "while we sit here and get a report that essentially says keep doing what we’re doing is not working."
Calgary Transit director Sharon Fleming countered, saying the report only laid out the initial steps of what will be a long road to rebuilding transit safety.
“This solution is intended to help resolve the problem we’re seeing in our stations today,” said Fleming.
"There will be other activities in discussions had in trying to resolve that that larger problem."
Calgary's police chief has seen the report, which recommends beefing up police presence along the LRT as well.
Chief Constable Mark Neufeld says it might not be long before a full-time police presence is required on transit. "Right now, we don't have a dedicated unit," said Neufeld. "We have eight districts in Calgary, and there's transmission infrastructure that runs through all of it. So, at the end of the day, it's kind of dealt with in a in a decentralized sort of way."
Police chief Mark Neufeld says Calgary may have to have full-time transit police
"I think,that, probably, looking forward in the future, as the Green Line gets built out, that we start to say, I think we're big enough," Neufeld said. "And I think the issues are acute enough, that we need to have police officers dedicated to transit on an ongoing basis."
The report, titled Assessing a Closed System as a Part of the Transit Safety Strategy, goes to a full session of Calgary city council in mid-June.