If you regularly ride the TTC you’ve probably seen the signs reading “Every day at least one TTC driver is assaulted. That’s one too many.” Today I witnessed an altercation between a TTC driver and attempted passenger after I had boarded the bus. The incident, however, took place off the bus.
A young man attempted to board the bus by flashing an id card, rather than providing payment. The driver was not fooled, however, and told him to get off the bus. The young man complied but not before grabbing a handful of transfers and shouting “f**k you.” The driver yelled and the young man threw the transfers back at him as he loudly left the bus. At this point, rather than let things go, the driver opened the lower door of the barrier that separates him from riders, shouted after the young man, “get back here f**ktard,” and got off the bus to confront him. Next, a physical fight erupted on the sidewalk beside the bus, which was still full of passengers. Three passengers got off the bus and broke up the fight but the driver was visibly upset. He called in the incident and the bus was declared “out of service.”
A TTC bus driver begins to stand up after a physical fight with the young man in the red shirt. The incident erupted after the young man attempted to board the bus without paying the $3 fare.
In a 2008 statement, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone, said
Everyday, a TTC driver is assaulted on the job. They are verbally abused. They are threatened. They are punched. They are spat on. Enough is enough. The message is clear: if you commit a crime on one of our vehicles we will catch you, arrest you, charge you, and prosecute you. Criminal acts have no place on public transit. Our employees and customers deserve to work and travel in peace. We are committed to ensuring that happens.
A 2008 article in the Toronto Star reported the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder for TTC operators to be “about four times that of police officers who patrol Toronto streets.” The abuse TTC operators endure ranges from riders spitting at them, to verbal threats, to physical assaults. How many people go to work each morning knowing that there’s a good chance someone will swear at them, spit at them, or even punch them in the face that day? Not many, and even fewer would keep returning to work day after day if this were the case.
While I in no way condone violence of any kind, I have to wonder, “why did the driver get off the bus and what did he expect would happen when he confronted the young man?” The TTC has taken (some) safety measures to protect its employees, such as shield barriers and cameras on board. So yes, if you commit a crime or assault someone on board a TTC vehicle, they can catch you and prosecute you. But if the driver leaves his subway train, streetcar, or bus, what kind of protection can the TTC offer?