I hear you Edmonton.
I hear you when you say that our transit system is not safe, and you will not use ETS until safety concerns are addressed.
And I hear you when you say City Council is not taking this matter seriously.
EPS recently reported the results of its 2022 crime analysis. Transit related violent calls for service are up 52.8% from 2021. 4% of city-wide violent crime occurs in LRT/Transit Centres. And crime severity in transit centers is increasing, with a 12.7% increase 2022 over 2021.
The Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board recently completed a survey of youth regarding their perception of transit safety. From their presentation:
- Children and young people felt substantially unsafe while riding transit, especially when riding alone;
- Parents/guardians were more blunt. While convenient, transit was perceived as very unsafe for young people and children;
- Parents/guardians do not feel that ETS is doing a good job of keeping them safe;
- Transit was seen as a last resort, rather than a viable option for everyday commutes and life.
And from your emails, I hear repeated complaints that transit is not safe. Too many of those emails describe physical confrontations, pushing, shoving, weapons and threatening behavior.
I have countless complaints about open drug use, urination, defecation and vomiting. Transit users have to watch very carefully where they step, and must endure the smell of urine and feces at so many of our LRT Station entrances.
The pedways in downtown and at the university that lead to the stations are no safer. Worse than that, there are too many nooks and alcoves and corners that allow disorderly conduct to take place. Even when not engaging in physical confrontations, groups of people clearly engaged in unpredictable behavior can be very intimidating.
I know you have heard the City’s responses to your complaints, and I know you find those woefully inadequate.
You hear that safety and security in transit spaces remains a top priority. That transit systems across the country have the same problems. That we are expanding outreach teams and adding Peace Officers. That it takes time to achieve tangible results.
On March 20, a three year extension was approved to the Community Outreach Transit Teams, which matches officers with community members that help vulnerable persons find their way to support resources.
Next week, a new Bystander Awareness Campaign will be launched to provide education and awareness on safe intervention when another individual is the target of inappropriate or threatening behavior.
While there is value in education and awareness and outreach programs - it sounds like lip service. Or worse, it sounds like we don’t have a clear understanding of just how serious the problem really is.
It is time that the Mayor and Council took these concerns much more seriously.
We need actions that will make transit feel safer tomorrow. A plan that discourages disorderly behavior. Solutions that make transit inviting for all to use, and not a place that smells like a sewer for those that have no choice but to take transit.
More to come.
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