There may be more police officers patrolling the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), but that doesn’t seem to have curbed the trend of violence.
Since Friday, there have been four attacks, including two robberies and two assaults, in line with the ongoing brutality affecting the city’s transit system before it was announced the city would implement additional safety measures to keep commuters and employees safe.
Some advocates say this isn’t unexpected.
“It’s really unfortunate to hear about these latest incidents, but sadly, it’s not surprising because we know the police do not prevent violence,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Executive Director of TTCriders, a public transit advocacy.
This weekend, Toronto police said it received reports a man allegedly assaulted three people on a downtown streetcar minutes east of city hall. That incident occurred less than a day after the TTC, accompanied by Mayor John Tory, confirmed approximately 80 additional employees would be present and move throughout the system each day in the wake of the recent wave of violence.
“No one should be under the illusion that police are going to be a solution to this,” said Matti Siemiatycki, Director of the Infrastructure Institute at the University of Toronto (U of T).
On Friday, the same day police boosted their presence across the transit network, a group of youths allegedly robbed and assaulted a man at Pape Subway Station before another reported assault minutes later on a TTC bus.
This comes after a week of daily stabbings, assaults and violent robberies affecting the network but follows months of escalating safety concerns reported by TTC riders.
“It’s irresponsible to see a knee-jerk reaction to the safety concerns we’ve been hearing about when safety has been identified for so long, and experts do have the solutions,” Pizey-Allen said, while Siemiatycki added that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have “shook loose” many issues in the community.
“There has been an uptick in violence and incivility across our cities, and the TTC is a microcosm of society more broadly,” he said.
Tory, TTC CEO Rick Leary and city officials acknowledged on Monday they were doing more to ensure safety is prioritized on the TTC with added resources. These include access to Community Safety Ambassadors, over 50 security guards deployed across the system, and de-escalation training to support TTC staff.