How Canadian cities are filling a safety gap with a new type of public transit• 2 min read
Three in ten Canadians have reduced (or ceased) public transit use due to safety concerns. An innovative form of public transportation is setting minds at ease.
In response to a series of attacks on transit systems early this year, many Canadian travelers are reducing — or ceasing — their usage of public transit due to safety concerns, according to a 2023 poll. Many believe this could indicate a troubling and broader pattern.
Data shows that roughly 27% report avoiding transit use entirely or using transit less (14% and 13%, respectively). Another 19% avoid traveling at night, and 12% avoid riding alone. Over one-quarter say they feel unsafe taking public transit alone.
The bottom line is: building an equitable public transit system requires that all people feel a strong sense of safety using it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in many places. While improving security measures can be a remedy for this, some cities are strapped for resources to advance it within their mass transit network.
The good news? As cities like Edmonton, Niagara Region, Sault Ste Marie, and Quebec City have rolled out tech-powered microtransit services, riders have embraced the mode’s convenience and are excited about its safety. According to a 2023 survey launched in a few Canadian cities with Via-powered microtransit, many riders pointed out “safe rides” as the major perk they’ve seen from using the service. In fact, ridership in these cities grew by 40% in May 2023, compared to December 2022, and the growth trend has maintained in June.
Canadian cities that introduced tech-enabled microtransit and paratransit to their communities, improving first- and last-mile connectivity and accessibility for their entire mobility networks.
“Without Edmonton On Demand, there is no way my son can get out of Keswick on the river neighborhood to go to school or recreation center. The nearest bus stop is more than 20 minutes walking and unsafe in winter.” – A rider of Edmonton On Demand
Riders of Edmonton On Demand — an on-demand public service across 30 different zones, serving 18 senior residences in the city of Edmonton — have expressed their appreciation for the service, as it allows them to avoid potentially unsafe walks, especially in winter or in areas with limited access to bus stops: “With On Demand, my chances of not having to risk that walk [from the bus stop to my home] is better,” one rider remarked.
Reduced walking time doesn’t only mean easier trips, but means improved security as well, as another rider puts it: “Without Edmonton On Demand, there is no way my son can get out of Keswick on the river neighborhood to go to school or recreation center. The nearest bus stop is more than 20 minutes walking and unsafe in winter.”
As Canadian cities continue to prioritize safety and security in public transit, exploring innovative solutions like microtransit can contribute to a safer and more comfortable travel experience for passengers across the country.