‘Harsher penalties needed’: TTC workers calling for more safety measures amid a rash of violent attacks

At least 35,000 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) workers are calling for the government to take action against the recent rise in violence against transit workers. 

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) wants the City of Toronto and the TTC to do more to ensure the safety of its workers. 

“We have repeated this ask and continue to see no movement. Harsher penalties are necessary for those who commit acts of violence on public transit,” ATU Local 113 said in a statement Wednesday.   

TIMELINE OF RECENT EVENTS 

There has been a stark rise in violence on the TTC, leaving many feeling unsafe. In fact, there have been incidents of TTC voilence every day this week. 

A suspect has been arrested after two TTC employees were chased with a syringe at Dundas station Wednesday morning. The two workers were able to get away and there were no reported injuries, Toronto police said. The suspect was arrested at the scene. 

On Monday afternoon, four teens were arrested after a “swarming” attack aboard a TTC bus in Scarborough. The boys, who were all 13 years old, were part of a larger group of at least a dozen people who were allegedly pushing and shoving two TTC workers outside a TTC stop near Kennedy and Merrian roads.  

The next day, a woman in her 20s was stabbed multiple times in the face and the head aboard a streetcar around 2 pm. The victim was sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A woman in her 40s was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault. 

A TTC Bus operator was also shot with a BB gun last Saturday. Her injuries were non-life-threatening. The suspects are described as two teenagers, and police say they are believed to be responsible for another BB gun attack that occurred a day earlier. 

One of the more horrific stories of violence involved eight teenagers, some as young as 13 years old. Last month, the girls were charged with second-degree murder after a “swarming” attack against a homeless man near Union Station. The victim, Ken Lee 59, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Greenwood Subway Station (Courtesy: Flickr/Melinda)

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Mayor John Tory has said he wants to also add mental health workers to the TTC to ensure the safety of passengers.  

“A lack of mental health supports undoubtedly contributes to a number of issues we are seeing in cities across the country,” Tory said in a statement on Wednesday, calling for a National Mental Health Summit.

Many residents also feel that mental health support on transit would be beneficial. 

“Mental health support people would be much better than a security guard I feel…Someone to identify the fact that someone may be having a mental health crisis would be a lot more helpful for everyone involved,” 

an unidentified commuter told Now Toronto on Wednesday.  

MANY TTC RIDERS DON’T FEEL SAFE

According to the TTC’s website, it employs more than 14,000 employees and serves well over half-a-billion customers. This makes the TTC one of the highest per-capita ridership rates in North America. 

While the TTC has its own tips on how people can stay safe,  not everyone feels like they can continue taking public transit. 

“I don’t feel safe anymore, that’s it. Safety is gone. You have to watch every corner. I don’t take TTC much but I watch the news and I don’t like what’s going on,” an unidentified rider said to Now Toronto. 

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