New TTC report shows violence against passengers up almost 50% in 2022

A new report from the TTC has confirmed violence against passengers is up dramatically. As Tina Yazdani reports, it’s unclear if safety measures put in place last month are working.

By Tina Yazdani and Meredith Bond

After several high-profile attacks on transit in Toronto, a new report from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has concluded violence against passengers has increased dramatically over the last year.

The report revealed that in 2022, violent incidents were up 46 per cent from 2021 and 60 per cent from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, when 30 per cent more people were using transit.

“That’s where the concern is because ridership levels were much higher in 2019,” said Murtaza Haider, Research Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

The numbers were also up month to month last year, with 100 incidents recorded in November and 145 in December 2022.

“Like everyone, we’re concerned when we see these numbers going up,” said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “It’s why we’ve responded the way that we have”

One month ago, Toronto police announced it would increase its presence with an additional 80 officers patrolling transit 24 hours a day. The TTC also added 20 community safety ambassadors and 50 security guards throughout the system.

RELATED: TTC ads encouraging people to ride draw questions amid fare increase, service cuts

“We’ve got more special constables being hired this year,” shared Green. “We’re also doing that compassionate approach … we’ve got street outreach workers who have expertise in mental health and addiction issues as well. So, there’s a lot of complex things going on.”

Since then, there have still been several high-profile crimes committed. Last week, a woman was slashed in the face at Spadina station, and a man was pushed onto the subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge. As such, the impacts of the new safety measures are still unknown.

“We don’t have any hard data yet; we’re still collecting that … What I can say is that anecdotally we’re hearing from customers and employees that they’re feeling safer riding public transit,” explained Green.

Haider alluded to the physical presence of officers being necessary.

“It gives people, commuters confidence in the transit system, and it may not resolve the bigger issue, but it certainly brings confidence that we need,” he noted.

RELATED: Suspect arrested after trying to push person onto subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge station

Some, however, have expressed fears that TTC service cuts, recently approved in the City of Toronto’s budget, will spark further safety concerns. The TTC will run nine per cent less service this year compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Instead, we’re taking this road of policing and surveillance,” said community advocate Butterfly GoPaul.

“The government has failed in resourcing this public service, and it’s falling on the back of working, poor, Black, racialized, and Indigenous communities,” GoPaul said. “We need a transit system that operates for these workers working 24/7.”

The provincial government announced Thursday it is providing funding to help municipalities operate and improve local transit. Almost $380 million for 107 municipalities can be used to extend service hours, buy transit vehicles, add routes and improve accessibility or upgrade infrastructure.

Close to $186 million will be allocated to Toronto.

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