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Cameras installed on Whistler Transit buses

Installation to be completed by next week

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Passengers and bus drivers in the Whistler Transit system now have an added level of security.

Installation of high-definition, closed-circuit TV cameras began on 18 buses this week.

"The goal is obviously security, to keep our people and the passengers safe," said Colin Hoffman, transit supervisor with Whistler Transit.

"We're excited to see it. We have some issues here with staff housing at nighttime and a lot of rowdy people when the bars let out, and having the cameras on the buses is a very good way to see if we can nab those people who are constantly causing problems."

By Wednesday next week, 18 buses will be equipped with eight cameras each: five inside and three outside.

Four buses that will soon be replaced will be excluded from the project, but new buses will arrive with the cameras already up and running.

Eventually, every bus in the BC Transit system will have the cameras.

Footage recorded on the cameras is sent to an encrypted BC Transit database, and accessed by Whistler Transit as needed through Freedom of Information legislation.

"If an incident happens on the bus, we have to make a request to BC Transit, saying 'this is what happened, we believe we've got footage of this," Hoffman said.

"We send the data to BC Transit, they decrypt it, look at it, and they blur out people's faces, (because of) privacy laws, and give us only what we've asked for."

The cameras will also cut down on frivolous injury claims, Hoffman said.

"There are legitimate injuries, and it will also prove to those people who legitimately get injured on a bus, they won't have to fight for their money," he said.

"But I would say roughly 50 per cent of the injuries that are claimed on the bus, they're embellished, and having the cameras is going to save the government and taxpayers money because they're not going to have to fight lawsuits that are frivolous."

The estimated budget to equip the 18 buses is $83,000, paid for in part through federal and provincial infrastructure funding announcements last summer.

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