Therefore, in order to associate effectively and make democracy active, people ride transit. In our city the major system for public transportation is known as SkyTrain, a light rail transportation system built for the 1986 Worlds Fair and since expanded to include a second line. The transit system is a key part of major as well as routine exercise of civic rights by Vancouver citizens. Instances of notable civic events that involved the SkyTrain include: the 1994 Grey Cup (and riot in the aftermath), the 1998 Riot at the Hyatt, the 1997 APEC summit and the Stanley Cup Riot (Chief Constable, General Manager of Engineering Services, City Clerk, Directors of Social Planning and Risk and Emergency Management, & Emergency Management Committee, 1995), (Garr, 2001), (Brunet, 2003).
It is not uncommon these days for people to suggest that civic space is under threat during significant events in the city. In the words of one writer regarding the APEC summit, democracy did not exist in Vancouver in the days and weeks surrounding the summit. Such basic freedoms as speech, assembly, thought and dissent had somehow mysteriously disappeared (Isitt, 1999). This research will explore the possibility that one of our key enablers of civic life the transit system is affected (negatively or positively) by the use of surveillance technologies. A positive impact would occur when people feel safer, ride transit more frequently, and attend more meetings. A negative impact would occur if people feel that they are being watched, that they are not trusted and therefore shouldnt trust others and participate less.
While people are riding public transit they are also (potentially) engaged in freedom of speech and public debate -- it is a classic element of bus conversations with both anecdotal and official recognition: the "productivity" of citizens while in transit has been recognized by the bureau of labour statistics. (Metropolitan Knowledge International, 2003)
This research focuses on a type of surveillance, transit surveillance, that occurs in what some are calling "quasi-public" space (Byers, 1998; Crawford, 1995). In a 2000 paper on surveillance and changing urban space, Koskela makes reference to "publicly accessible space" and how it is changing because of surveillance (Koskela, 2000). Although legally the space is private property, as it is owned by the transit companies, the space is used almost exclusively by the public for mobility in their work and social life.