In the aftermath of several disturbing incidents of violence, Toronto Police will increase their visibility on the TTC in the coming days in order to reassure riders that the transit system is safe.
In the aftermath of the incidents, Toronto Mayor John Tory met with TTC CEO Rick Leary and Toronto Police Chief James Ramer on Thursday morning to discuss TTC safety.
“We all agreed on the paramount responsibility we have as a team – the TTC CEO, the police chief, and myself – to keep the TTC safe,” Tory said in an interview with CP24.
He said in a statement following the meeting that Chief Ramer plans to increase the visibility of officers on the transit system “throughout the coming days and in the weeks ahead.”
On Sunday, a woman was pushed onto the tracks while waiting for a subway train at Bloor-Yonge Station. She managed to avoid an incoming train by rolling under the lip of the platform. She suffered a broken rib but luckily was not more seriously injured.
A woman has since been arrested and charged in connection with that incident.
Then Tuesday a man was stabbed in the neck while waiting for a train at St George Station in what police called a “random” attack. A suspect has also since been charged in that incident.
Police also said this week that they are looking for a suspect in connection with an April 12 incident at Pioneer Village Station in which a male victim was choked until he passed out and was then robbed after getting off a train.
The violence has triggered calls from critics to improve safety on the transit system.
In his statement Thursday, Tory said that the transit system continues to be a safe place for riders and employees, though he acknowledged that “we have all been extremely troubled by the recent and unacceptable incidents of random violence we have seen on the TTC.”
“The system is safe – that is demonstrated in the hundreds of millions of riders who use the system every year without incident,” the mayor said. “Police confirmed today they are not seeing a spike of violent incidents on the TTC. Both the TTC and police service have committed to doing everything they possibly can do right now to address the public’s concerns and that they will never stop looking at ways to make the system even safer.”
MORE RESOURCES NEEDED FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
While Tory said that both police and the TTC are “more focussed than ever” on the safety of the transit system, he added that many of the safety incidents that take place on the TTC can be traced back to mental health and addiction and said that more needs to be done to address those problems.
“I think I’m fair in saying that the issue of mental health and the related issue of substance issues that people have is a huge contributor to a lot of what we’re seeing – not just on the TTC but elsewhere – and it is high time, it is high time that we had a proper health response for this,” Tory told CP24.
He said those experiencing mental health and addiction issues need treatment and support and called on the provincial governments to do more in those areas.
The TTC told CP24 Wednesday that the system “is safe by any global measurement.”
The agency is hiring 56 new special constables to bolster security.
But the union representing TTC workers that Thursday that there are not currently enough special constables.
“The special constables being out there not in a number that would provide coverage — that is, I feel, wrong,” Amalgamated Transit Union President Marvin Alfred told CTV News Toronto. Now they’re trying to rehabilitate that by hiring. But again, they’re not on the system right now.”