Lies, damn lies and metro statistics

Line Green (1) Orange (2) Yellow (4)* Blue (5)
Criminal acts 541 395 429 90
Ridership 87.7M 91.3M 34M 22.2M
Crimes per million 6.17 4.33 12.62 4.05

The Gazette leads today’s paper with statistics on crime in the metro system gleaned via an access-to-information request. Montreal police wouldn’t break down the crime by individual station – citing security concerns – but would do so by line (kinda). The Gazette concludes that the green line has the most crime, with 541 reported acts, compared to 395 for the orange line, which has more ridership.

It’s not surprising that the green line shows more reported crime (even though the numbers in absolute terms are pretty darn small, averaging about 1.5 crimes against a person – including theft – 2 crimes against property – theft burglary, vandalism – and less than one other criminal offence per day across the 64 Montreal police-patrolled stations). The green line not only has the busiest stations, but goes through the downtown core, as well as some of the city’s poorer areas, like Pointe St. Charles and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. But, of course, this is just conjecture until more detailed statistics come out.

*The STM curiously decided to lump the four transfer stations in with the yellow line statistics, even though only one of those four transfer stations actually serves the yellow line. Considering the Longueuil station isn’t included in the statistics (because it’s in Longueuil police territory) and the traffic through the Jean-Drapeau station is negligible (about 5% of the total traffic for the five stations included in that statistic), you can basically read “yellow” above to mean the four transfer stations.

The statistics show that it’s those transfer stations that are the most likely to result in crimes when you divide the total crimes by station. But then, even those statistics lie, because ridership numbers only count passages through turnstiles, they don’t count transfers between lines.

So all we can really say here is that statistically, crimes are more likely to happen on the green line than the orange line or the blue line, not counting the transfer stations. Which is hardly going to stop people from taking the green line.

And while we wait to see if The Gazette can get the access to information commission to force the police to release more detailed data, we can just take some comfort in the fact that, on average, a metro station will see a criminal act worth reporting only 22 times a year, or once every 16 days.

13 thoughts on “Lies, damn lies and metro statistics

  1. Jack Bauer

    First of all, “security concerns” are the lamest excuse of all when law enforcement tries to hide their inefficiency or missing data.

    Secondly, it is now a perfect opportunity to investigate why so called “security cameras” are going to be installed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the new metro trains, not even including operating costs for all this equipment. Looking at the above facts, it is obvious that all the existing cameras spread across the metro stations are not doing anything to protect riders, otherwise we’d have far lower numbers of crimes reported. Consequentially, if they were really concerned about passenger safety, they should be adding more staff that can actually intervene if a crime is taking place instead of simply recording a few fuzzy pictures of crimes while they’re taking place in order to look at them sometime later (remember, if you had enough staff to watch all these hundreds of cameras in real-time, you could just as well have real people on site instead of cameras).

    I’d like to see some reporting on this discrepancy while this kind of data is already on the table to discuss.

    1. Soranar

      Being a security guard, I know something about cameras and their costs. My current employment site (the customer) has 24 cameras. They intend to install more for various reasons (obvious holes in the grid that everybody noticed and abuse).

      Considering the size of the building I guard, it takes me 20 minutes (meaning there’s a 20 minute gap between patrols) to make a single round. I am not supposed to make continuous patrols though, spending most of my time watching cameras.

      Cameras are effective for several reasons (even on alternate displays which prevent me from watching all 24 views at once and reduce it to 12 or less, the human mind can only manage so much information at once).

      First, most duties regarding security is preventing people from going where they’re not supposed to be (dangerous zones or protecting high value objects or people). Simply having a ”witness” stops many criminal acts.

      Second, I can notice if a criminal act is in action in all 24 views I get instead of a single one in which my physical presence would be required.

      Third, cameras are passive: you can’t insult them, annoy them or provoke them in any way and they can’t do any of those things to you either.

      Fourth, much like the previous statement, cameras are impartial witnesses after the fact. They just record what they saw without colouring it with their own viewpoint.

      The average salary of a full time security guard is about 30 000 a year. (14$ an hour, full time) Depending on the layout, installing a camera and maintaining it is a lot cheaper in the long run. The new cameras we’re installing should cost 15 000 dollars and require a maintenance contract around 2000 dollars a year to keep them in working order, replace those that break and maintain other secondary equipment (computers, screens, etc).

      Cameras do have their downfalls though. Some won’t care they are being watched and they’ll act anyway. But should a guard be present to stop him, he (or she) will likely wait till he’s far enough not to be able to stop him in time (say a suicide or a violent outburst for some other reason). But those crimes are very difficult to stop and prevent, at least they’re rare.

  2. Jeffrey

    Statistically, most statistical analyses prove absolutely nothing, and can be interpreted in an array of different ways.

  3. Alex H

    Berri station is pretty much the single biggest issue in the system, because of it’s location, it’s size, as well as the number of long passage ways that is has. From what I know, see, and hear, it would appear that much of the “crime” occurs in the entrance ways and hallways of Berri, and not actually inside the pay turnstiles themselves.

    Breaking the numbers down between “in system” and “out of system” would be interesting, to say the least. It would also help to clear up the issue that Jack Bauer brings up, because I feel that the crimes are not happening where the camera are, but in the entrance ways and hallways leading to the ticket booths.

  4. Jean Naimard

    You make the typical anglo-saxon blunder of lumping poverty with crime, which explain the douchebaggy attitude that some anglo-saxon suburbs have towards poorer places by having fences, streets closed to through traffic or gates that are at night (respectively Mont-Royal, Montréal-Ouest & Kirkland).

    Have a look at Villa-Maria station, which has the highest number of police interventions, yet it is not located in a “poor” area of town, like Pointe-St-Charles or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

    The biggest hole in your reasoning concerns like 2, which goes through both St-Henri and the Little Burgundy, who are just as poor as Pointe-St-Charles and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

    Likewise, home invasions happen in the West-Island, not in Pointe-St-Charles or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

    You have the extreme luck of living in the world’s second largest french city, so you have no excuse to not shed that anglo-saxon mindset of yours (which, culturally, has an extreme hatred of the poor) and start understanding the other culture that runs the city you live in.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      home invasions happen in the West-Island, not in Pointe-St-Charles or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

      I don’t think home invasions happen exclusively in the West Island, but your point is taken. That said, I don’t think there are a lot of home invasions in the metro.

    2. Alex H

      There is so much to your post that could be ripped apart and drop on the ground, but hey, I am a nice guy.

      But hey. Let’s look at Villa Maria metro. You have to look at a Metro station not only by it’s local, but also where the buses come from that end up there. The people in a metro station are not just the people who live in two blocks of it, but rather the people who must go through it because of the layout of the transit system. If you look at that, you will see different groups coming together, and that can lead to issues.

      You also have to look at things like the number of students that come through the station from schools in the area, and so on.

      Remember: If we are all the same, then the crime rate would be remarkably uniform all over the city. It is not. The socio-economic issues that lead to crime are not “anglo” or “francophone”. If it was only that simple.

      Plus, most of the pure-laine have little to say, because most of them look down their noses at the Moroccan and Haitian members of our community the same way they might look at a dog poop on the sidewalk. It isn’t about language, it is?

    3. Chris

      Once again, you help to prove to us all your extremely racist views of the world and of the “Anglo-Saxon” people to which you like to mock repeatedly on this blog. The fact that you somehow managed to justify a class-division issue with English people is absolutely absurd. This article has more to do with upper-class and lower class individuals than it has to do with English or French. There are gated communities all around the world in areas such as South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, the USA and many others and range on issues from violence to fear of the unknown as reasons why people might want to purchase a home in these areas. The West Island examples can be used just as easily in areas such as Blainville where gated communities are opening up and and have a much larger proportion of French individuals than English and have a large proportion of French individuals moving away from the city core and wanting to live farther away in a suburban environment. Suburbs don’t discriminate based on language – they discriminate based on income. From a historical standpoint, France had one of the world’s first gated communities dating all the way back as far as Montretout in Saint-Cloud in Paris in the 18th century.

      If you want to make a point about an issue than make one objectively looking at the issue in hand rather than trying to tie any point that offends you as somehow being an English person’s fault rather than about your own insecurities and hatred in life.

    4. MB

      Jean, I wonder if the architects and denizens of les banlieues surrounding Paris and other French cities would agree with your assessment of poor-hating as an exclusively “anglo-saxon” trait. Montreal is a French city, yes, but it has never been uniformly French here, culturally or demographically. Your denial of Montreal’s other cultures, insistence on assimilation, and perverted understanding of history are no more entertaining than any other expressions of cultural superiority. You sound more like a British colonialist than a French person.

  5. Kate M.

    Actually, I had the impression Villa-Maria’s problems were neither to do with wealth or poverty, but because by chance a hell of a lot of high school kids converge there at the same time every day, and a certain amount of bullying, taxing and other teenage type crime goes on there for that reason.

  6. John

    Where is Jean Naimard getting his info on Villa Maria from? It’s not mentioned in Faguy’s blog or the Gazette article.

  7. Omi-san

    I don’t think Hochelaga-Maisonneuve residents have anything to do with crimes on the green line. I ride the green line everyday from Honoré-Beaugrand to Downdown and the busiest stations after Honoré-Beaugrand are Radisson, Langelier, Cadillac and Pie-IX. What do these stations have in common? Buses coming from Montréal-Nord, Rivière-des-Prairies and St-Léonard.

    L’assomption, Viau, Joliette and Préfontaine are nearly ghost stations.


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