GO Safely 2018: Keeping GTHA commuters safe

Seventy million people ride GO Transit every year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)—and a new campaign is trying to make sure they get to their destinations safely.
The 2018 GO Safely campaign began on April 23, but it will have its official launch on May 2 at Toronto’s Union Station. The campaign’s goal is simple: to get commuters thinking about safety every day—from the beginning to the very end of their journeys.
It is an integrated marketing campaign featuring a series of posters that will be displayed at stations and on GO trains and buses. It includes an intensive social media strategy, with a video series featuring their Transit Safety Officers, as well as content being shared on GO Transit’s website. The messages remind commuters of important rail safety tips, such as staying behind the yellow line, only using designated railway crossings, and never using tracks as a short cut. But the messages go beyond just rail safety.
“This year, we have a few new topics. We’re talking about reporting sexual assault and harassment, as well as any suspicious packages people may see—the idea that if you ‘see something, say something’,” explains George Bell, Vice President of Safety and Security at Metrolinx, the provincial agency that runs GO. "Right now, people feel very safe on our system, which is a wonderful thing. But we also want them to remember how important safety is, so we don’t see an increase in the number of incidents.”
Bell says that as a way of “bringing the posters to life,” the campaign will include a series of video blogs featuring GO Transit Safety Officers. In the videos, the officers talk about things such as why the yellow line shouldn’t be used as a passing lane and the risks commuters take when they don’t stay well behind it.
“In previous years, we were very polite with a lot of our messaging. We asked people just to ‘please stand behind the yellow line,’ or ‘please do this, please do that’,” says Bell. “We have become a lot more serious with our messaging in terms of both our tone and the topics we’re covering. We are really trying to keep safety top of mind.”
Bell adds that GO Transit has learned that being disruptive, and a little edgy, is the best way to get their customers’ attention—and that these types of images are necessary to get the safety message across.