Transit association says more police, security needed on city buses, trains


Cities need to hire more security officers for their transit systems and give them more power to curb dangerous behaviour on trains and buses, the Canadian Urban Transit Association said Monday as it published a list of recommendations to respond to a recent spate of violent attacks on public transit.

The association made 27 recommendations today to improve rider and staff safety on public transit, including a demand to hire more on-the-ground peace officers, special constables, and police officers.

“It’s obvious, I think, to Canadians that we’ve got to address this issue,” said association president Marco D’Angelo.

He said the federal government should also amend the Criminal Code to include specific offences against all transit workers, not just transit operators.

The recommendations emphasize that public transit systems reflect the communities they serve and that issues such as homelessness, substance use, and mental health impact transit systems when left unaddressed.

Multiple reports of stabbings have come over the last few months on transit systems including one that resulted in the death of a 16-year-old boy in Toronto last month.

“These recent acts of violence on the TTC are concerning to us all,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was at a funding announcement about buying electric buses for the Toronto Transit Commission.

“The TTC is the lifeblood, the circulatory system of the city, and we need to do more to ensure the safety of the great people who work for the TTC and literally keep our city going.”

She pointed to government funding to address poverty, mental health and addictions as another way transit safety can be improved.

“But it’s not enough, and we need to do more,” she said.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association began its report on how to improve public safety last summer though the issue took on new levels of importance over the winter as violent attacks were reported on transit in multiple cities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2023.

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