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'It's making a difference': City says transit riders feeling safer amid ongoing efforts to improve ETS experience

Corona LRT Station on June 10, 2024. (Karyn Mulcahy/CTV News Edmonton) Corona LRT Station on June 10, 2024. (Karyn Mulcahy/CTV News Edmonton)

The City of Edmonton said riders are feeling safer on public transit.

According to data presented by city staff on Wednesday, 64 per cent of transit riders surveyed this year reported feeling safe while using public transit. That's up from 58 per cent from the same time period last year.

The Edmonton Transit System (ETS) has struggled with safety concerns over the past few years amid rising crime rates and strings of violent attacks in public transit spaces.

The city said, between the same time this year and last year, violent crime was down 10 per cent and the average crime severity had dropped by 18 per cent.

Those numbers, the city suggested, are due in part to 30 per cent more proactive arrests – made on outstanding warrants – being made by police officers on Transit Community Safety Teams.

Other new security measures include more security cameras, replacement or upgrading of doors for security and the construction of a new outreach work station in Central LRT station.

"It is making a difference," said Coun. Andrew Knack. "We are seeing an actual impact.

"Yes, perception is well below where it needs to be, but even that is growing. So that's encouraging to see."

Coun. Aaron Paquette said the numbers are promising, but he would like to see more measures to address issues like open-air drug use, which is a contributing factor to how safe ETS users feel.

"That's still 26 per cent of people that are traversing those spaces are feeling unsafe," said Paquette. "Those are not OK numbers for us, and we continually want to improve those."

The city said outreach teams and efforts have been increased and more resources have been allocated to hot spots, but added more resources are needed to improve the issue system-wide.

This year, three more Transit Community Safety Teams will be added for a total of 50 officers by 2025, and $1.5 million from the Building Safer Communities Fund will be used for gang prevention and intervention.

"Some of these challenges that we continue to see are the result of systemic failures that go way beyond what we can fix as a transit system, or even as a city," Coun. Anne Stevenson said, adding she's personally seen an improvement as a regular transit user.

The new data comes as overall ridership approaches pre-pandemic levels after 37 months of month-to-month increases in transit use.

Rider feedback and transit concerns can be submitted through the City of Edmonton's website Top Stories

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