Cameras on buses as result of agreement
Tuesday, January 16, 20079 Comments
I must admit that when I first heard about the cameras a year ago, I was a bit taken aback. However, I took the time to investigate what had happened and I found that cameras’ being put on the buses is not as bad as it might seem. These cameras will operate very differently than those that are in bank vestibules or lining the Yonge Street shopping district in Toronto. The bus cameras are for safety and that’s it.
In 2005, a Guelph bus driver was brutally assaulted late at night while operating the service and there have been other similar instances prior to that. This incident caused the late night bus service to the university to be suspended and led to negotiations between Guelph Transit and the union that represents city of Guelph bus drivers. An agreement was reached that would see all parties working to ensure the safety not only of the operators, but the passengers as well.
From the negotiations came a list of ten requirements that needed to be met before drivers would again operate the late night service. The requirements included various safety measures, among them the installation of security cameras on buses used for the late night runs. These cameras, now installed, are the ones causing some controversy.
In speaking to Guelph Transit about concerns of privacy, I was told that the cameras feed into a hard drive which is located onboard the bus itself. This hard drive records date and time for footage, and according to Steve Sarifinovski, supervisor of schedule and service planning for Guelph Transit, will only be looked at “if an incident occurs”.
There are cameras on the buses which face the driver and the rest of the passengers. Guelph Transit says that these cameras are not just for the safety of the drivers, but also the passengers, which are largely students. They have confirmed that the cameras do not feed into a screen that is being watched, and that they only feed into the aforementioned backup hard drive. I had noticed myself that it seemed the cameras are only facing passengers but on closer inspection and after discussing with Sarifinovski, it came to my attention that indeed there are cameras on the ceiling of the bus which face the driver.
It is my personal hope that these cameras will help with the safety of the late night buses, which always tend to be quite rowdy and crowded on certain nights of the week. I have been answering concerns from students, and I hope that students will continue to come to me if they are concerned about the cameras on the buses. The bottom line is that the bus drivers as well as the passengers need to have their safety concerns put first.
The recent installation of the cameras has ensured that we will once again be able to have a late night service with Guelph Transit. This service will begin on Sunday February 25th and will run until and including Friday April 20th. In the meantime, the late night bus service will continue with Denny’s Bus Lines.