Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Wednesday November 19, 2014
The Reptiles of Mass Transit
The HSR plans to fight back against a spike in assaults on drivers by outfitting buses with pricey security cameras — and possibly even protective shields.
Statistics obtained through a Spectator freedom of information request show the number of assaults and threats shot up this year, with 37 recorded in the first 10 months. That’s already a five-year high and nearly double last year’s total.
The city refused to hand over incident reports outlining locations and details, citing employee privacy, but union officials describe routine incidents such as punching, spitting and coffee-throwing over the last several years.
Some of the most egregious cases include a female driver beaten with a coil of steel wire and a male driver dragged off a bus and pummelled by a group of teens.
Newly hired transit director David Dixon said he is concerned and will make a budget request for on-board security cameras for 2015. “Operator and customer safety is a critical issue for me,” he said, adding drivers will also receive more training in “de-escalating” disputes and dealing with mental illness.(Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Meanwhile, every day in cities around the world, on buses and subways and trams, women face sexualized abuse, from taunts, to flashing, threats, groping and worse. In London, England, 15% of female riders have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on public transit, according to a study by the British Transit Police. (Of those, 90% never brought their complaints to the authorities.) In Vancouver, transit police launched a public crackdown on sexual offences in April after seeing a 23% spike in complaints year over year.
In Toronto, neither the TTC nor the police could provide up-to-date stats on sexual assaults on public transit. Brad Ross, a spokesman for the TTC, said “in general” the numbers aren’t going up. But anecdotally, women say this city’s transit system is rife with sexual predators.
On Monday, police announced they were hunting for a man wanted for three sexual assaults committed on the same bus route since Oct. 21. Last week, a Brampton man was arrested and charged with four counts of sexual assault for attacks that took place on TTC buses between November, 2013 and November, 2014. (Source: National Post)