03/31/2015 11:04 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT

Transit Watch program launched to help stop crime in Surrey, B.C.

Transit Watch, a new program in Surrey, B.C. will see trained volunteers patrol public transit hubs looking out for public intoxication, vandalism and suspicious behaviour.

The program is organized by the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, which runs a variety of community policing programs in the area.

"The only way we're going to get resources is by being able to report it and measure demands on the community," said Karen Reid Sidhu, the society's executive director.

High-profile violence has made crime a hot topic in Surrey in recent years. Unsuccessful mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode made it the focus of her campaign during the fall 2014 municipal elections.

Transit Police confirm that the targeted areas —  transit hubs like Surrey Central, King George SkyTrain station, and the Newton bus loop — are at a higher risk of criminal activity.

High-crime areas

"Surrey is one of the busiest zones in terms of ridership and in terms of crime," said Anne Drennan, spokesperson for Metro Vancouver Transit Police.

Sidhu says the 38 volunteers will observe and report, not directly confront any suspicious activity. If they see situations that require attention, they will alert Transit Police, emergency services or community agencies.

The program will operate three times a week, for five hours a day.

Drennan said plans for expansion will depend on the number of incidents, but that the project is a good start in helping to reduce crime.

"It's fantastic for us, because the transit system is so huge there's no way we can be everywhere," said Drennan. "To have trained volunteers act as eyes and ears for us in an area that's very busy is extremely beneficial."

Vancouver has 147 transit police covering a system that serves about 1.1 million people every day.