TTC to deploy 80 ‘highly visible’ staff a day to enhance transit safety
In response to the recent spate of random violent attacks on the TTC, the city’s transit agency is ordering managers to patrol during rush hour.
The additional surveillance comes on top of the additional police officers who flooded into the city’s transit system in shifts of 80 on Thursday.
TTC CEO Rick Leary met with Mayor John Tory, TTC Chair Jon Burnside, Police Chief Myron Demkiw and union bosses on Friday before announcing the additional patrols, which will consist of “more than 80” maintenance and transportation managers who will circulate through the subway during peak rush hour service.
The managers will be “highly visible” and conduct cleanliness and safety checks, the TTC said in a statement.
“As a transit agency, we find ourselves faced with complex societal challenges that are not part of our core business. They require creative, comprehensive and outside-the-box solutions,” said Leary in a statement.
Tory added: “The TTC must be safe for everyone — passengers and transit employees. We’re continuing to work with the TTC, Toronto Police and TTC union leadership to make sure we are immediately addressing safety concerns.”
“Our number one priority as police is public safety, and that includes the thousands of Torontonians who travel on the TTC every day,” said Demkiw. “In collaboration with our transit and city partners, we are taking immediate action to address safety issues on the TTC with a highly visible presence throughout the system, to support TTC Special Constables and to ensure that both passengers and transit employees feel a sense of security.”
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Over the last week, there has been a random act of violence almost every day.
Last Saturday, two teens shot a Scarborough bus driver with a BB gun. On Monday, a group of teens assaulted a pair of transit employees on a bus near Kennedy station. On Tuesday, a woman was stabbed in the face and head on the Spadina streetcar. On Wednesday, a 16-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after he was stabbed on a TTC bus near Old Mill station. On Thursday, four teens were arrested after firing a BB gun at a woman on a subway train near York University. On Friday night a man was assaulted by a group of young people on a TTC bus in East York, while another man was robbed, assaulted and thrown down the stairs at Broadview station.
In a statement, the TTC said it is in the process of training all its supervisors in de-escalation techniques to support staff posted to each station. The transit agency is also altering its schedules to “increased employee presence in hot spots in the system and during peak times.”
This week’s violence was not isolated. Last month, a woman was killed and another injured after a daytime stabbing at High Park subway station.
A homeless man was also stabbed to death outside Union Station by a group of girls who had allegedly attacked others at stations along Line 1 earlier that evening.
“Everyone needs to feel safe while riding the TTC and we appreciate the added support,” said Burnside. “We know the issues the system is currently facing are complex and there are no easy solutions. The safety of our customers and our employees is top of mind in every decision we make.”
Marco Chown Oved is a Toronto-based reporter covering climate change for the Star. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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