Blog Post #1515 – City of Toronto Enhance Transit Security

Article by Jeff Cottrill – Editor of the OH&S Canada magazine

Article from the January 2017 edition

Note# – We can see as far back as 2017 there was a working need to enhance security for the TTC. (Dan Beal)

Article – The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), is proceeding with a plan to put special constables on some buses and streetcars to prevent violence against drivers.

The initiative is an expansion of a pilot project that the TTC enacted in December, BUS STOP, or “Bringing Uniform Support to Surface Transportation Operating Personnel.” This program had special constables boarding 373 buses on seven routes to prevent assaults while protecting revenue, says TTC chief special constable, Mark Cousins.

“What we found during that time was that because we were present, you had less fare disputes, less assaults,” Cousins says. “We felt that we were having a positive impact in supporting the operator and also reminding folks of the proper rules of engagement.”

Nearly 400 TTC employees were physically assaulted in 2016, and 285 of those were vehicle operators. About two-fifths of the assaults resulted from fare disputes.

For the moment, the extra visibility of security will be on selected buses, streetcars and routes. Cousins employs 41 special constables, and the TTC puts out more than 1,500 buses per day. Deployment of the constables will depend on which routes need the most assistance, as per the TTC data.

But not everyone is optimistic about the TTC’s plan. “There is always talk about increased levels of visibility and things like that, and it never generally comes to light,” says Kinnear, ex-president of Local 113 of the amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents TTC operators.

One of the biggest problems is that neither the public nor the ATU takes the TTC’s special constables seriously as an authority. He cites the incident at Union subway station nearly two years ago, when Russell Gillman and son Jamie Gillman were involved in a scuffle with TTC personnel after a Toronto Maple Leafs game, as an example of their effectiveness. “We have a special name for them,” Kinnear says about the special constables. “We call them the rainbow squad. They always arrive after the storm.” A better solution, he suggests, is to have a regular presence of Toronto Police Service officers aboard TTC vehicles.

Cousin reports that the special constables will not be the only enhancement of security on the TTC. The system is also increasing its video-review process. “Every single bus is equipped with CCTV,” he says. “As long as the equipment is working, every single assault that is committed on an operator is caught on tape. And so we review the tape, we look for the suspect. If the suspect can be identified and charges are appropriate, they are charged.”

Of the assaults against TTC drivers, 34 per cent involve spitting, while another 31 per cent are physical strikes like slaps and punches, Cousin notes.

My opinion

I gave my opinion at the beginning of the article. There has been a real need to protect our TTC people from violent or harassing customers. The need for a real police presence would be the correct approach until the “special constables” are recognized as legitimate policing units at the TTC.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

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Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

 

 

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