Surveillance on Greater Victoria transit buses starts with cameras

B.C. Transit seeks OK from privacy commissioner for audio recording equipment as well

The assault of a bus driver in Saanich last week highlighted a surprising fact about the Capital Region’s public transportation system.

“There is not one operating (surveillance) camera on a B.C. Transit bus,” said spokeswoman Meribeth Burton.

Witnesses of the attack apprehended the suspect in the Dec. 26 incident, a situation that was not altogether isolated. Records show drivers reported 53 threats and attempted assaults against them in 2012 across Greater Victoria.

The latest incident was the third assault causing bodily harm against a driver in the region this year.

In 2013, B.C. Transit hopes to install security cameras – and potentially audio recording devices – on much of its 1,000-bus fleet across the province.

“There are a lot of ways that it’s demonstrated that we need that level of security, not just for our operators, but for our passengers as well,” Burton said. “That kind of empirical evidence would be really helpful.”

She clarified that B.C. Transit is awaiting comment from B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner on the use of audio recording before it presents the proposal to its board this month.

“With board approval and the privacy commissioner’s approval, then we’ll go to our municipal partners and find out who’s interested,” she said.

Should privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham identify potential concerns with audio recording on buses, video surveillance will still move ahead, Burton added.

The final price tag will sit somewhere between $4 and $6 million, depending on how many municipalities choose to buy the closed-circuit TV cameras.

In 2011, a federal government assessment estimated it would cost $10 million to install cameras on the B.C. Transit fleet in all of the 123 communities it serves.

The new price tag is due to infrastructure upgrades now completed, Burton said.

“We have the telecommunications centre that was set up a few months ago in Greater Victoria that can handle surveillance in the province. So, we’ve put the infrastructure in place, including the software programs.”

Buses purchased within the last five years also come with standard CCTV equipment, she said.

“It’s just a matter of turning them on.”

There are about 300 buses in Greater Victoria, making it the largest B.C. Transit fleet in the province. With nearly 50 per cent of B.C. Transit’s resources devoted to the Capital Region, which has a complex cost-sharing formula, the Victoria Region Transit Commission will tread carefully when considering the buy-in cost sometime in mid-2013.

“There’s a cost factor and a privacy issue,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, also a transit commission director. “If there’s a way that we can make not only the drivers, but the passengers safer, I’m all for looking at (the options).”

The majority of Metro Vancouver buses, run by TransLink, already use video surveillance, but none have audio recording capabilities, said Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Artists find showcase at Coast Collective gallery

Art from the Attic showcases forgotten treasures

Drop off your old branches in Colwood

Program helps keep city yards tidy

Premier John Horgan announces improvements to Highway 14

Construction on the $10 million project is set to begin immediately

Upgrades to Millstream overpass to begin Feb. 1

Project includes addition of left hand turn lane onto highway to Victoria

Victoria Grizzlies look to continue hot steak

Team hits the road this weekend before Family Fun Night

Monster trucks invade Victoria

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour stops at Save-On Foods Memorial Centre this weekend

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail alleged sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Most Read