A new report shows that the number of violent incidents on the TTC has increased significantly. This has affected many Torontonians like Seneca College students who are experiencing difficulties on buses and subways often.
Seneca Students Fearful of Violence on The TTC
A 21-year-old, biotechnology student, who is going by her alias name Victoria, says that a few months ago she experienced a scary moment when a homeless man lashed out at her on a bus full of people.
“There was, a guy who was homeless but I'm not sure. He was acting weird when he entered the bus and he sat beside me and kind of blocked me from exiting the bus,” Victoria added “and I saw that, and I tried to get away. I went to the back of the bus but I accidentally stepped on his foot. I didn't mean to but that happened because there were a lot of people and he kind of lashed out at me. Thankfully there was someone who saw that and kind of stepped out for me and told him to leave.”
Jamie, 19, who is currently studying creative advertising, says that he hasn’t experienced violence or seen any incidents, but he says that his friends have witnessed abhorrent things like people attempting to push people into train tracks when the train is near.
“Well, so far I haven't personally experienced any attacks, but I have a couple of friends who were around when attacks occurred and they've seen people trying to push people onto tracks and stuff like that,” said Jamie.
Alejandra Valerio, 19, Business Marketing, encountered a terrifying situation where she says a man was following her around the subway until the police came to help her. For that reason, she prefers using the TTC during the day than at night.
“Well, yeah, I use the TTC every day, twice a day. And during the week I think it's, it's normal, it's chill. But during the night, I think it's the worst I've had. well, I had one experience. I was getting off the train and some guy started walking behind me. He started following me around the subway. I had to go with the police and they helped me. they kicked the guy out,” said Valerio.
The media focus is again on the TTC after 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes was stabbed to death at Keele station just before 9 p.m. It was reported that he was sitting on a bench before he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack by 22-year-old Jordan O’Brien-Tolbin. The suspect has now been charged with first-degree murder. The suspect had a warrant from 2021 and several other offences. A candlelight vigil will be held at High Park on Thursday night for Gabriel.
Data Shows Increase in Violence and low Ridership
TTC CEO Rick Leary released a new report showcasing that violent offences against TTC customers have increased. In November 2022 there were 100 but that spiked to 145 in December. According to media reports the overall number of these incidents in 2022 totals 1,068 incidents. In 2021 there were a total of 734 incidents which indicates a 46% increase. Data also shows that since the pandemic in 2020 violent incidents against TTC customers have begun increasing.
Ridership on the TTC has also been down compared to past years as in 2022 the TTC only generated 318.8 million, which was 6.5 million below the budget. Also, it showcases an average ridership of 60% of pre-COVID levels.
Earlier this year in January the city announced that they will increase police presence to ensure the safety of riders. This was to combat the growing violence on the TTC. Toronto Police provided 80 officers who would work overtime doing patrols on the TTC. However, this program came to a close two weeks ago since it was costing the city 1.5 million per month. It was too expensive for the city to maintain. However, students who didn’t know the program existed says it should be continued regardless of the cost because what mattered is ensuring the safety of riders.
“I mean if nothing happened around those two months or how many months, I don't know. Maybe they should, they should keep the security, they should keep the program even though it's expensive, but it's costing a lot of lives,” said Jamie.
Calls for Changes
On social media, many are now suggesting that the TTC implement cell service since it would increase the safety of riders.
Why is there no cell service on the TTC? Riders say it could increase safetyhttps://t.co/wo4EoaQb8L
— CP24 (@CP24) March 30, 2023
The TTC and the city are still trying to come up with ways to protect riders. Nothing new has been proposed as of now.