Transportation Security

I travel by public transportation everywhere I go. Most of my trips are in the Greater Toronto Area and I take a GO Bus to the nearest train station to travel on the train into Toronto for the vast majority of those trips.

When I go to Winnipeg, Ottawa, or Montreal, I’m usually on the bus.

I’ve taken the Greyhound between Winnipeg and Toronto multiple times. I’ve also took the Winnipeg to Edmonton a couple of years ago. There are a lot of isolated stops on the route and many of those are flag stops – there is no way to secure them.

I don’t believe random security checks will actually be effective.

The GO Transit system operates on a fare honour system. One doesn’t need to show proof of valid fare to board a train. Until recently, one really didn’t need to pay either – sure the threat existed of a random fare check but the fine of $110 was little deterrent because of how few checks occurred. Even the checks that occurred were predictable. The supposedly random checks were anything but random. Right now, GO Transit’s fare checks are in the spotlight and they have actually been expanding those checks. Many trains that had never seen a check have recently been blitzed but eventually things are returning back to normal and the checks are once again becoming predictable.

The point is that random checks are not so random. I know, for example, that I will not be checked on a Sunday or late at night – the same will occur on inner-city transit lines. The locations of the checks will be an issue – how to you conduct a check at Bob’s Milk Mart on the side of a rural highway?

There is also the matter of cost. I know Fridays and Sundays are busy days on inner-city buses, especially during the academic year. Many students (myself included) take the bus because we can’t afford airfare or VIA Rail – tacking on a security fee will hurt.

The reality is this attack in Manitoba was a random occurrence.

We all take risks on a daily basis waking up in the morning.

I feel less safe taking the GO Train than I do taking the Greyhound. The reality is that the GO Train represents a bigger target than any bus. Many trains hold thousands of people and operate with no security.

Being in Toronto’s Union Station is a greater risk than taking a Greyhound – we don’t see metal detectors there. (For the record, I feel safe taking GO Transit – the risks of being alive are what they are.)

Yes, what happened in Manitoba is shocking – but let’s not fall for the hype here, transportation is safe. Frankly, a greater concern when I take the bus to Winnipeg are the moose which populate the forests along the highways.