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BC Transit installs bus cameras

Surveillance system shows positive results for passengers and driver safety
bus cams
SAFE CAMS: Powell River’s transit fleet is having camera systems installed to monitor for inappropriate behaviour. David Brindle photo

Video surveillance, also known as closed-circuit television (CCTV), is being installed on four BC Transit buses in Powell River during the week of January 15. A fifth bus will have the technology added when it returns to service after a retrofit.

Each bus will have a total of eight cameras mounted on the exterior and interior to monitor the security and safety of riders and drivers.

“Over the last two years, BC Transit has been working on a program to install closed-circuit television cameras on buses across the province,” said BC Transit communications manager Jonathon Dyck. “The idea behind installing the CCTV cameras on buses is to help deter inappropriate activity on the bus.”

Results have been positive. During a trial period from April 2015 to April 2016, 83 buses were fitted with cameras in Victoria and 25 in Kamloops.

“During that time period, over 1,400 incidents were recorded, and more than 500 went to a full investigation by police, BC Transit or ICBC,” said Dyck. “Those incidents included five assaults on transit operators, all of which led to convictions.”

BC Transit works closely with law enforcement in the province, so when there is an incident on a bus the videos are a useful tool to provide on-camera evidence, according to Dyck.

“We know when there is an incident on a bus we need as much evidence as possible to be able to follow up,” he said, “and so this provides another piece for police to see what occurred, and then use that as part of their evidence as they move forward.”

Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe said the cameras will deter unwanted behaviour.

“Historically, there has not been a lot of crime reported on transit in Powell River,” said Wiebe, “but video can be very helpful in an investigation should the need arise.”

RCMP constable Ron Palmquist said he has seen the effect of cameras in other detachments he has worked at.

“It proves as proactive measure in providing further safety for people using the bus system,” said Palmquist.

City of Powell River operates bus service for BC Transit and city manager of operational services Shawn Cator met with drivers last week.

“They are encouraged by the increase in safety these cameras will bring not only for themselves and the passengers,” said Cator, “but also if anything comes up as a result of an accident with another vehicle all of that information is going to be available.”

Currently, BC Transit has more than 400 buses fitted with CCTV cameras across the province. BC Transit is a crown corporation responsible for public transportation throughout BC, except Greater Vancouver. In Powell River, the city runs five buses.

Installation of the surveillance system will cost $19,000 and be paid for by the province’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. The rural routes to Lund, Texada Island and Stillwater will not have CCTV installed during this current staging of the system.

BC Transit buses are not the first to install CCTV cameras. In March 2016, School District 47 began to fit its buses with the technology.