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Majority of Torontonians say no to TTC plan to remove subway guards: poll

Last Updated Feb 26, 2020 at 5:28 pm EDT

A TTC subway car. UNSPLASH/Justin Main

By now, most Torontonians are familiar with the regular disruptions to subway service on Line 1, usually in the later hours of the night, for planned signal upgrades.

What most may not know however, is that once the upgrades to the automatic train control (ATC) signalling system are complete, the TTC plans to eliminate the position of subway guard — the worker who rides in the last car of the train and ensures the train stops at the correct point before opening the doors.

A new poll shows two thirds of Torontonians disagree with this move. It was conducted by Mainstreet Research for Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union which represents most Toronto transit workers.

According to the poll, 64 per cent of the public do not approve of TTC management’s plan to eliminate a second subway crew person — the guard — and only 19 per cent support the idea of One Person Train Operation (OPTO).

The TTC first introduced OPTO in 2016 on Line 4 and planned to introduce it on Line 1 by 2019. The public was not informed of this decision and the poll also finds that 74 per cent of Torontonians surveyed disapproved of the fact that the TTC chose not to make the plan public back in 2016.

Residents also feel their opinions should be taken into consideration before decisions are made about crew sizes on subways. Sixty-three per cent of the poll sample felt it was either “extremely” or “very important” that public consultation be a part of the decision making process and 58 per cent felt the same about the public agreeing with any such plan before it is implemented.

Overall, a majority of Torontonians want public input into TTC decision making that revolves around safety issues such as crew sizes.

John Corbett, Vice President at Mainstreet Research, sais the poll’s findings could be considered a consensus on the issue.

“It is rare to see this level of consistency of opinion on a public transit issue,” he said.

The survey was conducted via automated phone interviews among a sample of 1019 adults, 18 years or older, living in Toronto. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 3 per cent and is accurate 19 times out of 20.

See entire survey below.