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Transit Security to be Increased
(Tuesday, October 21, 2008) Halifax Regional Council approved today the purchase and installation of a Mobile Surveillance System for all Metro Transit vehicles. An increase in the number of assaults on transit operators over the past year led Council to expedite the camera installation, which will improve security and safety for transit employees and passengers by deterring criminal activities from taking place and providing evidence for conviction should criminal activity occur.
"The safety of our operators and passengers must always be our top transit priority," said Mayor Peter Kelly. "Installing cameras now will increase security while allowing our transit operators to focus their attention on driving and transporting their passengers safely."
The Mobile Surveillance Cameras will cost approximately $1.2 million, which includes installation, testing and ongoing support. Funding was obtained from existing Metro Transit budget lines in order to speed up the bus camera project.
The camera system installation is expected to take approximately twenty-six weeks and will begin in November 2008. The original plan to phase in the cameras over five years was revised following the latest assault incidents and meetings with the Transit Operators' Union, ATU, Local 508. Metro Transit will work closely with ATU, Local 508 on installation details; passengers will also be advised prior to the operation of the cameras on buses. Metro Transit will also continue to work closely with Halifax Regional Police on security matters.
Other transit measures approved by Council included the recommendation to move ahead with the development of a new Transit By-Law to support the operation of a safe system and to proceed with hiring a consultant to work with Transit staff on the development of a Strategic Operations Plan in conjunction with the 5 Year Approach, approved during the last Council Budget Session.
The formation of a Transit Special Constable Security Force was also discussed. Council was advised that, due to the costs and organizational structure required, Special Transit Forces are usually only feasible for transit systems which are much larger than Metro Transit in size. However it was approved that the work on the Transit By-Law would include wording to support the ability at a future date to implement a Transit Special Constable Security Force.
"The camera system is a very good start and I am pleased we have the flexibility to make them a reality in the very near future," said Mayor Kelly. "We have many options at our disposal to help us keep improving safety and security for our passengers and operators. We will be doing more—this is just the beginning."
Mayor Peter Kelly or Lori Patterson, Metro Transit