Community Watch on Wheels – A tradition of safety through OC Transpo’s Transecure Program

Published on
April 11, 2024
Parking, roads, traffic and transit

Feature story

This story is part of the City of Ottawa Service Reviews: an initiative aimed at ensuring our services are meeting your needs. Visit today.

The hatching of Transecure

Safety is a big priority for the City of Ottawa. And for OC Transpo employees, this goes far beyond safely navigating busy streets to get you to your destination. It also means watching over the safety of the community beyond the confines of the bus.

With hundreds of vehicles on the road at all hours of the day and staff travelling throughout the city, OC Transpo employees have a storied history when it comes to helping people in distress. Before everyone had a cell phone, bus operators had radios that connected them to a control centre, security, police, fire, paramedics, or whatever else was needed. To this day, OC Transpo’s front-line staff play a critical role in reporting emergencies and requesting the help of emergency services.  

OC Transpo decided to formalize the process to recognize what its employees were already doing. They created Transecure, now in its 37th year, a community watch program on wheels. From all the monthly calls of the previous year, the most outstanding call is selected and the operator who made it is named the Transecure Employee of the Year. It’s a tradition that recognizes all the employees who go above and beyond the call of duty and it still continues today. The newest Transecure Employee of the Year will be announced this Sunday, April 14th, at the Transecure and Safe Driving Award Ceremony

Over the years, bus operators have been awarded citations for heroism or bravery for running into burning buildings in the middle of the night or banging on doors to wake residents who were unaware of the danger raging all around them. It’s not unusual for operators to find lost children and reunite them with their frantic parents, to rescue elderly residents who have wandered away from their residences or use their bus as a safe haven and provide temporary shelter and transportation for members of the public in need of help.

OC Owl

OC Owl was created in 1989 as a safety ambassador of the Transecure program, and a symbol of wisdom, watchfulness and protection. Over the years, OC Owl has turned heads at hundreds of school and community events. OC Owl has acted as a friendly figure to help young children feel more at ease as they are introduced to the transit system and recognize that bus operators are there to help. OC Owl also reminds everyone feeling in distress that they can flag down any OC Transpo vehicle and request help.

OC Owl rides the O-Train / OC le Hibou prend l’O-Train.

Let OC Transpo know

If you see something suspicious, you can speak to any OC Transpo operator or employee. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can file a report online about incidents of crimes against persons or property, feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, incidents of harassment or any other type of incident or crime you may have witnessed.

Special constables also play a key role in safety, performing foot patrols in all stations and riding vehicles around the clock. If you feel unsafe or if you see someone who seems lost or needing help, you can approach a Special Constable or call 613-741-2478. 

Emergency call boxes

You can also contact OC Transpo for help or to report an incident by using one of the yellow emergency phones. These come in different sizes and shapes, but you’ll find them located at transit stations and in each elevator. Just press the button and you’ll be connected with a Transit Special Constable.

An emergency call box at an O-Train station / Un téléphone d’urgence dans une station de l’O-Train

Night Stop

Many larger transit stations make use of a Night Stop. This is a single stop along the platform, designated by a yellow route stop sign that is used by all routes after 9 pm. These stops are centrally located at each station, are well lit and have an emergency phone close by. Condensing all stops into a single location at night improves safety by eliminating the need for individuals to wait on their own at the distant end of a transit platform.

A Night Stop sign / Panneau d’un arrêt de nuit

Safe Stop

OC Transpo also has a Safe Stop program that you can make use of after 7 pm. Instead of getting off at your usual stop, ask your bus operator and they’ll drop you off at any safe spot along your route that is well lit and closer to your destination.

Your city, your ideas!

This feature story is another example of how the City of Ottawa is constantly working to create a city that is safe for everyone, whether you’re a transit user or not. Do you have creative ideas related to this or other City services? Share your ideas at

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