EDMONTON -- Starting this summer, passengers on Edmonton buses will be able to text transit staff directly when they experience an uncomfortable situation.

The texts will be monitored by staff at the Edmonton Transit Service Control Centre.

"Just like if you were picking up the phone and calling the transit watch phone number," said Carrie Hotton with ETS. "It alerts us you're having an issue."

Ward 2 Coun. Bev Esslinger told CTV News Edmonton she's "all for it."

“If it’s the comfort that they can reach out and text someone discretely because they feel unsafe, I think that’s a great initiative," she added.

ETS has brought in a number of safety features recently. Retractable shields and security cameras have been installed on buses to help keep drivers protected.

Private security guards are stationed at many transit centres — measures that were brought in following two stabbing incidents.


The text alert system is mentioned in a report going to City Council’s Community and Public Services Committee March 18. The report outlines a number of other strategies to increase safety on transit, with a focus on women.

Only 18 per cent of ETS bus drivers are women. City staff plan to launch a recruitment campaign in the coming months to attract more women to the job.

“Women who work as transit operators may be able to relate more closely to the experience of women who use public transit as their primary transportation mode," the report reads.

It goes on to say female drivers “...better understand their travel patterns, needs and preferences.”

The city is also evaluating passenger experience getting to and from bus stops, with safety in mind. Esslinger hopes it will attract more people to transit.

“Many of these initiatives that we’re working on are to improve the system. And when you improve the system for women, it improves it for everybody.”

The text alert system is scheduled to come online in July.