Our View: Bus camera justified if safer

Sometimes having a big brother isn’t a bad thing.

B.C. Transit’s plan to introduce Closed Circuit Cameras to a few of the buses used in Greater Victoria should be of little concern to the many of us generally guarded about our personal privacy.

In this case, the cameras are expected to help make riding the bus a safer and therefore more comfortable experience. That’s a good thing, given that the future of sustainable transportation in this city relies on convincing more people to use the bus system.

Concerns have been raised in the past about surveillance cameras being used inappropriately by those trusted to monitor and maintain the devices. Serious problems arise when such technology is used voyeuristically or tyrannically.

However, the equipment employed by BC Transit will only be accessed if needed to help identify someone who commits an offence while onboard the bus.

And while B.C. Transit applied to keep the recordings for 14 days, the provincial Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner only agreed to seven. TransLink in Metro Vancouver, which uses a similar system, also has a seven-day limit.

“People don’t want to know their information is held too long,” said Stephen Anderson, senior manager of B.C. Transit corporate safety and security.

Those stipulations should reassure most people that the cameras will be used only as intended.

There have been numerous reports of disturbing behaviour, sometimes spilling into violence, by unruly passengers.

If cameras on buses make potential perps think twice about committing an offensive act, the safer environment that results will be worth the cost of the equipment.

– Vic News