TTC sees transit violence stretch into weekend after adding employees, patrol cops
Toronto saw yet another assault on its transit system Saturday afternoon, the latest in a week filled with violent incidents on a near-daily basis.
Toronto police said it received reports a man allegedly assaulted three people on a downtown streetcar just minutes east of city hall.
Police said the man exited the streetcar and was last seen walking south. There's currently no information on whether the victims were injured in the alleged attack, Det.-Const. Michelle Flannery said.
The incident comes less than a day after the Toronto Transit Commission announced it would immediately deploy approximately 80 additional employees to move throughout the system each day in the wake of the recent wave of violence.
Additional management staff will be "highly visible" across the system and the deployment includes staff rotating through the subway network during peak service times, the transit agency announced late Friday.
Managers will also conduct system cleanings and health and safety audits, the TTC said in a statement
The transit provider said the move is the result of ongoing discussions between the agency, its union representatives, Toronto police and mayor John Tory.
Several more immediate actions are being explored to address crime on the TTC in addition to long-term solutions, such as working with experts in housing and mental health and addictions, the statement said.
"I want to thank all the transit workers who have kept the transit system moving throughout this week and who will be on the job this weekend," Tory said. "I know this hasn't been an easy time for any of them or their families."
Tory also thanked the additional police officers deployed to patrol the system as of Friday. The move was announced earlier in the week after a recent spate of alleged stabbings, swarmings and other violent incidents on public transit.
Word of the extra TTC staff deployments came hours before Toronto police said it received reports of two separate, fresh incidents on the TTC Friday evening involving a group of young people.
Police said it received reports a man was assaulted by a group of young people on a TTC bus in the city's east end and they later fled the scene. Paramedics took the victim to hospital with minor injuries, police said.
Minutes earlier, officers received reports alleging a group of young people assaulted and robbed a man at a downtown subway station about a kilometre away.
Det.-Const. Michelle Flannery said police are currently treating the attacks as separate incidents and are appealing for witnesses to come forward to aid the ongoing investigation.
Earlier in the week, four 13-year-old boys were charged after two transit workers were allegedly swarmed and attacked on a city bus.
Police announced Thursday that more than 80 officers would work paid overtime shifts at TTC locations across the city to reduce victimization, prevent crimes of opportunity and enhance public safety.
The police enhancement was welcomed by some transit users Friday who said the officers' presence made them feel safer, while others said more police in the system would not address the deteriorating social conditions that could be at the root of the situation.
Experts, community workers and advocates have called the enhancement a "bandage solution" and warned more police could impact Black, Indigenous and racialized TTC riders, as well as criminalize people experiencing homelessness or mental distress using transit for safety, shelter or warmth from the cold.
Earlier this month, Tory announced a proposed $48.3 million increase to Toronto's police budget, which would in part go toward the addition of about 200 officers, as well as programming aimed at addressing youth violence.
"As a transit agency, we find ourselves faced with complex societal challenges that are not part of our core business," TTC CEO Rick Leary said in Friday's statement. "They require creative, comprehensive and outside-the-box solutions."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2023
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press