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TTC CEO says he’s looking at uniform visibility, more security following string of assaults on staff

Click to play video: 'TTC chief says he understands growing safety concerns'
TTC chief says he understands growing safety concerns
WATCH ABOVE: On a day when two transit employees were chased on the street by someone holding a syringe and a 16-year-old was stabbed on a bus, the TTC CEO says he understands why people feel unsafe. As Sean O’Shea reports, Rick Leary is promising to listen and act. – Jan 25, 2023

TTC CEO Rick Leary says several discussions are underway following a string of recent high-profile assaults on employees that include looking at uniform visibility and more security.

Leary spoke to Global News on Wednesday after mounting incidents involving assaults on TTC employees and said they are “talking about everything we can do to make this place safer for our employees. It’s critical.”

Just earlier on Wednesday morning, the latest incident, two TTC employees were chased with a syringe at Dundas Station. However, neither employee was injured.

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On Monday, up to 15 youths allegedly attacked two uniformed TTC employees on their way to work by bus.

Then, on Saturday evening, a TTC bus driver was shot with a BB gun while she was waiting to take over another bus. Global News spoke to her, Alexandra Stoeckle, who said “I’m really grateful it wasn’t a bullet.”

When it comes to Stoeckle’s case, Leary said she is getting a list of items that other operators are concerned about and is going to sit down and speak with her.

“My discussions with her about really supporting them from a more visibility standpoint, having more managers, assistant managers out, talking to employees, getting that type of feedback,” Leary said. “You know, nothing is off the table, but they’re still driving the bus and people who know who they are.”

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Leary also said the TTC board is focusing efforts on mental health as more longer-term action.

“That’s why the concept of now working with bringing more mental health experts in to talk about what we can do in our subway stations. We’re looking at compassion with Streets to Homes, but more has to be done. And that’s what we’re at the table with everybody to talk about it.”

Meanwhile, TTC riders have also faced assaults. Most recently on Tuesday afternoon, a woman in her 20s was stabbed in the head and face on the Spadina Avenue streetcar. She did not know her attacker, police said.

Last month, two women were stabbed onboard a TTC subway car near High Park station. One of the women was killed and other was injured but later released from hospital.

In that incident, police said both did not know the alleged attacker who is facing a first-degree murder charge and an attempted murder charge.

“It’s doing what the customer has been asking of us,” Leary said in regards to customer fear about using the TTC.

“More visibility, more security being seen there, establish that comfort level for them. That’s what we’re working on.”

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the transit’s union, said it has repeatedly called for transit agencies and municipalities to implement greater security measures.

“For years we have heard politicians and transit agencies condemning violent attacks on public transit, but they failed to take action,” said John Di Nino, President of ATU Canada. “How will they prevent future attacks? We need real action not just talk.”

— With files from Global News’ Sean O’Shea

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