Edmonton City Council putting forward a motion for turnstiles following latest transit assault

Following the violent assault of a woman at an LRT station who remains in hospital in critical condition, city councillors review a report that reveals safety is a major concern for transit users.

A 55-year-old woman remains in hospital in critical condition following an assault at an LRT station.

It happened at the Coliseum LRT station last weekend. Police say the lady was sitting at a bench waiting for the train when she was approached by two 12-year-old girls and was beaten until she was unconscious.

The two girls fled the scene but were caught by police nearby and have been charged with aggravated assault.

READ MORE: Girls charged in alleged violent assault of woman at Coliseum LRT station

“It’s unfortunate it takes something as tragic as a violent assault on an innocent victim for us to now go ‘what are we going to do with these girls’?” asked Dan Jones, Chair of Justice Studies at NorQuest College.

Criminologist and former police investigator, Dan Jones says the vast majority of people involved in criminality have significant trauma backgrounds, and says these charges will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

“A lot of people think when you turn 18 it just disappears. It doesn’t. It isn’t necessarily going to be impactful for certain things, but the police always have it,” said Jones.

Tuesday morning, Edmonton’s Urban Planning Committee reviewed a report that shows safety is a major concern for riders, and weighed out how to improve user experience. 

Councillor Tim Cartmell, pushing a motion to council next week for a two-year pilot project to add turnstiles at two select transit stations.

“To see if we see a reduction in disorderly behavior, if we see a reduction in violence. Do we see a spillover to other stations that don’t have a fare gate during that pilot?” asked Cartmell.

The city has taken steps to increase safety at transit including an increased security presence and the number of community outreach transit teams to support individuals with mental health concerns and substance use, but councillor Salvador worries this violent incident will impact people’s perception of safety 

“I think it’s also important to recognize that thousands of trips are taken every single day on our transit systems that are safe, but again, instances like this do not help,” said Salvador.

While some transit users tell CityNews they’ve had no issues using transit, they are cautious of when or how frequently they use it.

“I try to be on the LRT and transit as little as possible,” said one transit user.

Another saying, “Generally, I try to be home before dark.”

Jones says there is a safety concern, but adds random attacks are not common and encourages riders to be mindful of their surroundings. 

“Some of my colleagues ride transit everyday, and they are unharmed and they do it everyday. So I think yes there is a concern for safety, but we still are a relatively safe city,” said Jones.

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