Timeline: Disturbing trend of violent attacks on the TTC

Transit riders are on edge after three TTC attacks in just 24 hours, targeting both riders and workers. Tina Yazdani speaks to leaders about the major safety concerns, and the way forward.

The recent escalation of violence on public transit in Toronto has put riders on high alert and prompted calls from union leaders who are asking for officials to take action immediately.

A list of shocking incidents on the TTC in 2022 has been followed by a surge in violent attacks to begin the new year, with more than a half dozen attacks occurring in the last week alone.

Mayor John Tory says he’s been in constant contact with police and the TTC about ways to improve safety and told Breakfast Television on Thursday morning that an announcement should be coming soon.

“We are having a meeting again on Friday but we have been talking continuously,” he says. “Our paramount objective has to be the safety of the employees and passengers. We’ll have more to say about that.”

Several of the attacks are believed to have been unprovoked and a growing number appear to be directed at TTC staff.

Local transit union leaders are calling for harsher penalties for anyone who commits acts of violence on public transit. The ATU Local 113 has called on levels of government to provide more funding for “much-needed emergency resources towards violence prevention and mental health relief.”

The head of the national Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) wants to convene a national task force to tackle the violence. He says all levels of government and transit agencies must consider whether de-escalation training, harsher penalties, increased mental health funding, better housing supports, and greater police presence could help prevent violence on transit.

A timeline of recent attacks on the TTC

Apr. 12, 2022 – A victim was robbed after they were put in a chokehold and knocked unconscious at Pioneer Village station. Police allege a suspect grabbed a man from behind and choked him before fleeing the scene with his belongings.

Apr. 16, 2022 – A man was assaulted at Bloor-Yonge station following an altercation with another man. Police say the two became involved in an argument which resulted in one man punching the other several times.

The victim was left with serious injuries and the suspect fled the scene.

Apr. 17, 2022 – A woman was pushed onto the subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge station. Police say a train arrived seconds after and the victim narrowly escaped critical injuries when she was able to roll and press against the platform.

A woman was arrested a day later in North York. Investigators could not confirmed whether the suspect and victim knew each other.

Apr. 19, 2022 – A man was stabbed in the neck in an unprovoked attack at St. George Station. Police say the incident occurred while the victim was sitting on the subway platform talking to someone else.

The suspect fled the station and was arrested a short time later.

June 17, 2022 – A woman in her 20s died of her injuries after she was set on fire at Kipling Station. Police say a man doused the victim with a flammable liquid substance on a TTC bus and lit her on fire in a random attack.

A man was arrested and faces a first-degree murder charge.

July 7, 2022 – An elderly woman was punched in the head in an apparent random attack at Kipling Station. Officers found the woman unconscious and she was brought to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Dec. 5, 2022 – Transit union leaders began calls for more safety after a transit operator was attacked a Long Branch Loop in an “assault and robbery.”

The union said at the time it was the second violent attack on an operator in less than a week.

Dec. 8, 2022 – A fatal stabbing on a Line 2 train near High Park station left a 31-year-old woman dead and another injured. Witnesses said the suspect was wielding an ice-pick.

Police arrested a man at the scene. Investigators were working to confirm what led to the incident but believe the suspect and victims were not known to each other.

Dec. 15, 2022 – A 25-year-old man was arrested following a pair of random attacks on subway trains. Police say the suspect boarded a train at Kennedy station and began punching a male rider.

A short time later, the same suspect approached a female passenger and began to shake her before stealing her headphones while “threatening her with death.”

Dec. 17, 2022 – A group of eight to 10 teenage girls “randomly assaulted” several people along Line 1. Police say the attacks happened at Queen’s Park, St. Patrick, Osgoode, St. Andrew and Union Stations.

Shortly after, a man experiencing homelessness was fatally attacked by a group of teen girls in the York Street and University Avenue area. Police are looking into the possibility that the incidents are connected.

Dec. 19, 2022 – Six people were attacked on a subway at St. Clair Station. Witnesses said the suspect struck a woman with a bottle, cutting her and leaving her with non-life threatening injuries.

A woman was arrested at the scene and faces several charges.

Jan. 3, 2023 – A fight during the evening rush at Bloor-Yonge station led to someone being pushed onto the tracks. Police say two men got into an argument on the platform which escalated into a physical fight.

TTC special constables who were on scene arrested the suspect. He was charged with assault.

Jan. 18, 2023 – A man struck someone in the head at Bloor-Yonge station and knocked their religious head covering to the ground. Police say they’re treating the assault as a suspected hate-motivated offence.

Jan. 20, 2023 – Police say a suspect tried to push a person onto the subway tracks in the afternoon at Bloor-Yonge station. No injuries were reported.

A short time later, a man in his 50s was arrested at Rosedale station. There is no word on what led to the incident.

Jan. 21, 2023A TTC driver was shot with a BB gun as they were waiting to take over a bus in Scarborough. The driver was hit in the head and abdomen but did not suffer any serious injuries.

Police say the suspects drove off in a vehicle and it is believed the victim was targeted due to their uniform.

Jan. 21, 2023 – A teenage girl was sexually assaulted on a bus leaving Kipling station. Police arrested a 39-year-old man and charged him with sexual assault.

Jan. 23, 2023 – Two uniformed TTC employees were swarmed and attacked aboard a bus in Scarborough. Police confirmed the two employees suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators initially said they were looking for as many as 15 teenage boys. Police have arrested and charged four 13-year-old boys with assault.

Jan. 23, 2023 – A man grabbed a woman’s purse at Broadview station during a violent robbery. The suspect fled with the item.

The violent incident was captured on surveillance video. Police are still looking for a suspect.

Jan. 24, 2023 – A woman was stabbed in the head and face on a Spadina streetcar, just south of Bloor Street. She was taken to hospital with life-altering injuries.

A 43-year-old woman is facing five charges including attempted murder. It is not clear if the suspect and victim knew each other.

Jan. 25, 2023 – A pair of TTC workers were chased by a person with a syringe near Dundas station in downtown Toronto.

Police say the employees were able to get away after they were chased. A suspect was arrested at the scene.

Jan. 25, 2023A 16-year-old boy was stabbed on a TTC bus near Old Mill subway station. The victim was taken to a trauma centre with serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

Police are still searching for a suspect and whether they knew the victim or not.

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