Violent incidents against TTC passengers on the rise, report finds
The number of violent incidents against passengers on the TTC in 2022 increased by 46 per cent over the previous year, even as ridership struggled to recover from the historic lows during the pandemic.
There were 145 violent incidents in December, making for a total of 1,068 incidents in 2022 over 318.8 million rides, according to a monthly report released Wednesday from Toronto Transit Commission CEO Rick Leary.
That compares with 734 such incidents in 2021, 735 incidents in 2020 and 666 in 2019. The incidents are defined as the most serious offences reported to police (assault, sexual assault, robbery, theft, threatening, harassment and indecent exposure).
The rise in violence comes at a time when ridership on the transit system is struggling to recover from the pandemic. According to the TTC report, ridership was currently at 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last year and is expected to rise to 75 per cent this year.
“Safety is paramount to all we do and the TTC moves hundreds of millions of trips every year without incident. But we cannot and do not take that for granted,” said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green in a statement.
“The recent rise in these serious, higher profile incidents is why we are working closely with the City of Toronto to deploy additional staff teams with expertise in addiction, mental health, housing and security. These teams provide a balanced approach that is responsive, preventative and compassionate.”
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The figures released Wednesday come in the wake of a series of high-profile violent events on Toronto’s public transit system. In 2022 alone, TTC properties were the site of a number of disturbing incidents, including a woman pushed onto the TTC subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge Station in April, a woman lit on fire near Kipling Station in June, as well as other stabbings, shootings and assaults on public transit across the city.
Last month, the TTC said it would use an increase in funding from the city’s 2023 budget to add 20 community safety ambassadors and 50 security guards throughout the transit system. Toronto Police Service also announced that it would increase its presence on the TTC, with roughly 80 officers throughout the system at any given time.
Despite increased personnel and funds, violence on Toronto’s transit system has continued this year. This week, a 12-year-old was assaulted in a suspected hate-motivated offence while on a TTC bus.
“We don’t know exactly what is behind these incidents, but we know that the root causes are complex, and they’re going to require a co-ordinated approach and response,” said Leary in a January press conference.
A February poll indicated roughly 40 per cent of TTC users feel unsafe riding on the city’s public transit. A string of transit stabbings in January particularly seemed to disturb TTC riders, while the TTC plans to cut service and hike fares in response to low ridership post-pandemic.
Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati
Aisling Murphy is a Toronto-based general assignment reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: email@example.com
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