Friends and family of a 21-year-old woman killed Sunday while crossing the street say they are frustrated it took a death for the TTC to take the stop out of service and perform a safety assessment.
Jessica Renee Salickram died Sunday after she was struck by a SUV on Steeles Avenue East near Eastvale Drive around 10 p.m. Witnesses say she had just gotten off the bus and was crossing the road when she was struck.
Salickram’s death has prompted a number of riders to voice concerns over the stop. They say it is unlit, at the side of a busy roadway, with no sidewalk or crosswalk.
the fact that the safety concerns of this exact bus stop was brought up 10 months ago and nothing was done breaks my heart even more.
— gigi (@_rrxo) January 11, 2018
Jacquelyn Persaud, Salickram’s mother, said her daughter was on her way home from her job at Eaton Centre Sunday when she was hit.
“Jess was one of the bright lights in our family,” Persaud said. “She had a great love for her family, she was beautiful, kind and was looking forward to a bright future in journalism.”
A day after CityNews contacted the city and the TTC about ongoing safety concerns, a notice was posted on the bus stop Wednesday, informing riders it was no longer in service.
The TTC has since told CityNews it is performing a safety assessment and the stop will be out of service until further notice.
“We have to look at these things holistically,” said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “We have done reviews of streetcar stops and this year we are doing reviews of bus stops, we need to find places, where ever possible to eliminate those mid-block crossings.”
“With this particular stop it’s a real tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family but we decided in the interest of safety until we could review that stop at that location, we would not use that stop.”
Some riders, who have dubbed it a “suicide stop,” say they had brought up their concerns with the city and TTC as far back as 10 months ago.
I’m so angry rn. My friend had to pass away for them to realize that this bus stop is dangerously placed?! The TTC is a joke https://t.co/1tVYotVW5D
— ayaan (@ayaanaye) January 11, 2018
Green told CityNews he could not find any complaints registered with the TTC about this particular stop.
Craig Harper said Tuesday drivers can’t see bus users like himself when they are forced to cross Steeles Avenue every night in the dark.
“Even myself when I get off the bus I tell my bus driver you just dropped me off at a suicide stop,” Harper said. “Not knowing one day that something would happen. Well something did happen.”
Harper says the incident was particularly disturbing because he brought his safety concerns about the stop to the city back in March 2017, telling them the area needed a stop sign, more lighting or a crosswalk.
“If we would have had the resources at the time, I don’t think this would have happened,” Harper said.
CityNews has learned the city did perform a traffic study on the area back in 2015. It determined no traffic signals or pedestrian crossover were needed.
CityNews tried to get results of that audit but were told it was an internal report and that the traffic volumes simply didn’t meet the threshold for changes. Salickram’s death was the first fatality in the area.
The mayor’s office said in a statement Tuesday they are re-investigating the stop as part of Vision Zero, a city initiative to eliminate pedestrian fatalities.
“We are dedicated as a City to working to prevent pedestrian deaths,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “Transportation Services will be reviewing this area and they have asked hydro officials to also look at lighting in the area.”