News Local

Town considering security cameras on buses

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Transit drivers have faced abuse from some riders. SUBMITTED

Transit drivers have faced abuse from some riders. SUBMITTED

Former town employee Walter Armstrong addressed council in open forum on Sept. 19, regarding what he called a health and safety issue on the town’s transit system.

Armstrong told councillors that he had witnessed “a very disturbing incident” on a town bus, involving two passengers who were verbally abusive to the female driver. One male then began to run up and down the aisle, distracting the driver, who was attempting to make a left turn at a busy intersection.

Armstrong noted the distraction could have caused a collision had he not intervened, and that the bus driver was visibly distraught after the incident.

It was not an isolated occurrence, he told council. “These bus drivers are verbally assaulted. Why are there not cameras on these buses? This is the only bus service in Ontario that does not have cameras.”

Armstrong said that drivers have been requesting security cameras and the town has been dragging their feet, although cameras can cost as little as $99. “There’s no reason we have these three buses, and we’re not spending the $99 ... These bus drivers should not have to stand alone.”

He urged, “Let’s get it done. Let’s not drag our feet anymore. These bus drivers feel unsafe.”

Mayor Rob Keffer called it a disturbing incident and thanked Armstrong for his presentation, but there was no further discussion: Open forum only allows residents to bring issues to council’s attention.

But there was action two weeks later, at the next meeting of council. Transportation technologist Paul Dubniak presented councillors with an option that would see five cameras installed on each of the town’s buses (now 4 in number), at a total cost of $22,000.

The tender process can take two to three months. Keffer pointed out no tender is needed if the price is under $10,000. “See if there’s a way to bring the costs down,” he urged.

CAO Geoff McKnight later pointed out that purchases under $50,000 do not require tendering — all that is needed are three quotes. “We’ll get it done quickly,” he promised.

Council also voted to look into an app that would allow transit riders to track the arrival time of the next bus, an online payment portal for the EasyPass, and an extension of Taxi-To-GO shared taxi service, to match the new GO Train service.