News / Ottawa

OC Transpo plans education campaign around transit safety

OC Transpo is planning a public education campaign around passenger safety on the transit system following calls by women's groups for such a measure.

The campaign, called for by a number of advocacy groups, will form part of a 10-point safety plan currently being developed by OC Transpo management.

Diane Deans, the chair of the city's transit commission, could not say what resources will be devoted to the plan. But she noted OC Transpo has a marketing and communications budget totalling $690,000 in 2013, and the education campaign would likely be funded through that envelope.

"When we release it we'll see the details, but I think it is fair to say that we've heard enough about the need for a public education campaign that (it) will form part of the plan," Deans said Monday.

Deans was speaking four days after OC Transpo convened a meeting with women's advocacy groups to discuss safety on the transit system.

Some, including Hollaback! Ottawa and the Women's Initiatives for Safer Environments (WISE), have been adamant that an education campaign -- including information on bystander intervention -- is required to increase passenger safety.

WISE's Valerie Collicott said the groups' called for speedy action on the education piece at Thursday's meeting.

"This is an issue that they can do some things fairly quickly to start getting messaging out there," Collicott said.

Deans agreed that OC Transpo needed to do a better job in advertising existing safety measures, including the Night Stop program. If passengers are concerned about safety at night, Deans said, they can request the bus driver drop them closer to their residence rather than at a bus stop.

There have been 85 sexual assaults reported to Ottawa police on the OC Transpo system since 2008, with 11 to date in 2013.

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