City council formally approved the purchase Tuesday night of surveillance cameras for its 60 Sudbury Transit buses.
The $249,590 contract for supply and installation of security cameras was awarded to Seon Design Inc. of Coquitlam, B.C., the city said in a news release. The process will begin immediately and will take about three months to complete.
“I'm very, very pleased,” Mayor Marianne Matichuk said at Tuesday's city council meeting.
While the city has been considering adding the cameras for some time, the plans were expedited last summer following a series of incidents of drivers being assaulted. A Greater Sudbury Transit Safety Task Force was created in June at Matichuk's request. It included councillors and representatives from police, union and staff, and they supported the camera proposal.
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau, who chairs the operations committee, said in July that less serious attacks are more common than assaults, such as drivers being verbally abused and even spit on.
While they won't stop all incidents, Barbeau said cameras have proven effective in other cities, reducing attacks by as much as 25 or 30 per cent. But the cameras won't curtail misbehaviour from drunk or drugged passengers.
"It will stop many other assaults on buses,” Barbeau said. “And quite frankly, it's going to give us the evidence at the end of the day to lay charges.”
Robert Gauthier, the manager of Sudbury Transit operations, said in the release the cameras will improve driver and passenger safety.
“This is an important step to reduce the risk of assault on bus operators and to restore passenger confidence in the overall safety of the local public transit system,” Gauthier said.
In addition to cameras, new mobile radio units were installed on all buses over the summer. A silent alarm system triggers an alert to transit supervisors who will hear and record events as they occur on the bus, contacting police as necessary.
“Council’s approval of these cameras gives all buses a three-tier security system with GPS tracking, video and audio recording features,” CUPE Local 4705 President Rick Leroux said in the release. “We continue to work together on other ongoing issues that will ensure the safety of our transit operators and the public.”
As well as the cameras, interior driver mirrors are being replaced where necessary to eliminate blind spots inside buses. Greater Sudbury Police, the Crown attorney and Greater Sudbury Corporate Security and Court Services are developing joint initiatives that will enhance security at the downtown Transit Terminal, the release said.
Another proposal – installing physical barriers between drivers and passengers – is still being studied.
“Driver barriers, which separate bus operator and passenger, must be custom designed through Nova Bus, the manufacturer of the Greater Sudbury Transit fleet,” the release said. “The Safety Task Force continues to seek a solution that will provide a sample driver barrier for bus operator evaluation and feedback.”