Riding the Rocket in Fear

Over the past several weeks, Toronto has seen a spike in crime especially on the TTC. The severity of attacks on our city’s public transit has reached a breaking point and riders do not feel safe using the TTC anymore. 

It seems as though everytime we turn to the news there is another shooting, stabbing, or assault that has occurred. We rely on public transit to get us to where we are going but it is reaching the point that people do not feel safe taking public transit and are opting to use other forms of transportation to get from point A to B. 

The spike in crime on the TTC and around Toronto has impacted people’s mental health, leaving people to live in constant anxiety and fear of being the next victim of a violent crime on the TTC.

Time-Line of Events

Jan 3, 2023:  A fight broke out after a verbal argument in the Bloor-Yonge station resulting in one individual being pushed on the tracks.

Jan 18, 2023: A man struck an individual in the head and knocked their religious head-wear to the ground. 

Jan 20, 2023: There was an attempt to push an individual onto the tracks, however, thankfully no injuries were reported. 

Jan 21, 2023: A TTC driver was shot in the head and abdomen with a BB gun. The suspect fled the scene.

Jan 21, 2023: A teenage girl was sexually assaulted on a bus at Kipling station. 

Jan 23, 2023: A violent robbery occurred at Broadview station. Suspect fled the scene with the stolen items.

Jan 23, 2023: Two TTC employees were swarmed and attacked by a group of 15 teenaged boys aboard a bus in Scarborough.

Jan 24, 2023: A woman was stabbed in the head and face aboard a Spadina streetcar. The victim is suffering life threatening injuries. 

Jan 25, 2023: A TTC employee was chased by a person with a syringe at Dundas station. The TTC employee was able to escape without any injuries.

Jan 25, 2023: A sixteen year old boy was stabbed on a bus at Old Mill station. He has non-life threatening injuries.

Feb 6, 2023: A TTC employee was attacked at Eglinton West station.

How the City is Combating the Rise in Crime

The TTC has always had emergency devices available to riders across stations. Each station and vehicle has emergency alarm systems that can be activated if a rider feels unsafe. The TTC also broadcasts safety announcements throughout the day reminding riders, “if you see something say something” and other tips on staying safe in the stations. 

But with the spike in crime on the TTC, police officers have been dispatched across the TTC network. The Toronto Police have deployed more than 80 police officers across TTC stations and vehicles to reduce and prevent crimes and attacks.

While this is a step in the right direction, riders still feel on edge and unsafe riding taking the TTC and have taken extra precautions to stay safe on the journeys.

How People are Protecting Themselves

Many riders believe that deploying police to roam stations is not the answer. They believe that providing adequate access to mental health resources, addiction counselling and more warm spaces for homeless people is the solution.

Many have taken extra precautions while riding the TTC. Many riders have opted to carry personal equipment in case they find themselves in an unsafe situation. The most common items being carried are a personal alarm that can be activated quickly with a click of a button and dog spray.

People are also taking to social media to share safety tips while riding the TTC. The most helpful ones are:

  1. Standing somewhere where you can have your back to a wall.
  2. Stay in a well lit area and near cameras.
  3. Stand close to other riders.
  4. Stand or sit near emergency alarms for quick and easy access.
  5. Avoid having earphones on so that you can hear your surroundings.

How to Stay Safe on the TTC

Be aware of your surroundings: Keep your phone and other electronics put away, and stay alert to your surroundings.

Trust your instincts: If something doesn’t feel right, leave the area and find another way to get to your destination.

Stay in well-lit, populated areas: Avoid deserted areas, especially at night.

Keep your valuables secure: Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, electronics, or large amounts of cash, and keep your purse, backpack, or luggage close to you at all times.

Be prepared: Learn the route and schedule of the transportation you are using, and have a backup plan in case of delays or unexpected events.

Stay together with friends or family: When traveling in a group, stay together and don’t wander off alone.

Report any suspicious activity: If you see something that doesn’t seem right, notify the authorities or the transit staff immediately.

And most importantly, if you see something say something.

PsyMood is a digital tool designed to help you find the support you need in the language that you are most comfortable with. PsyMood considers cultural background, geographical location, interests, and personal needs, amongst other factors, to pair you with service providers for either online or in-person therapy sessions.

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