The TTC may seem like a scary place to some lately due to various life-threatening attacks taking place on its public transit system. These incidents include stabbings, robberies, a woman set on fire and a rider pushed off a subway platform, among others.
On Jan. 27 the TTC said it would deploy 80 new employees and that it said would be “highly visible” and rotate throughout the subway system as additional security. Despite this measure, attacks are still happening. With public transit being the sole mode of transportation for many in the city, some riders feel unsafe.
We talked to some experts about how you can protect yourself while on the TTC. Here’s what they said.
What are the ways I can stay safe on the train and subway platforms?
The primary ways to ensure you stay safe are to walk in pairs, pay attention to your surroundings, and not always be walking with your phone in hand. You need to observe what is going on around you.
The TTC has designed specific rules that riders need to know in order to keep themselves safe on the subway. The transit commission strongly advises that riders stand far back from the yellow line on the platform until the train has fully pulled into the station. This is a particularly important safety measure that will save riders from ever being pushed onto the tracks, as in some recent incidents.
In addition, if riders ever feel uncomfortable, in danger, or witness other accidents take place when waiting for the train, they should notify a member of TTC immediately using the intercom on a platform designated waiting area (DWA). A DWA can be easily located by the sign and it is the most lit-up spot on the subway platform. This area is also well-equipped with a pay phone, benches, and high-security cameras. Riders can also call 911.
“The DWA has cameras, riders can press the emergency button distinguished by the lighting and TTC staff will know exactly which station you are at,” TTC patrol officer Richard Davis said in an interview.
Staying safe on the subway
On the subway train, when a serious emergency occurs, riders should press the yellow strip that says “emergency alarm” on it. Transit control will be notified and the train will proceed to the next station and hold. TTC specialized staff will arrive to handle the situation.
There is also a TTC safe app that riders can download on their devices. This app is often overlooked, but it provides a quick and easy way for riders to report harassment, suspicious activity as well as all types of concerns directly to the TTC’s Transit Control Centre. This can be done anonymously.
“If you see any crime like vandalism, you can take a picture and put it in the app, and the photo will go directly to our transit control and special constable desk and units will be dispatched right away,” Davis said.
Staying safe on the bus
The Request Stop Program is available to all riders travelling alone on the bus between 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. It enables customers that are feeling vulnerable to get off the bus in between TTC stops and closer to their destinations. The request to stop should be made by customers at least one stop in advance of their destination and it must be safe enough for the driver to do so.
In addition, there are also safety alarms on the bus much like the ones in the subway cars that riders can push which will alert the driver of a problem.
What are some self-defence tactics that I can learn to protect myself?
Knowing some easy self-defence skills could mean the difference between life and death in any attack or scary situation.
Jason Kay, a self-defence specialist from Energy Martial Arts Academy in Scarborough, says anyone can learn a few moves to help fight off attackers.
“Make use of your elbows and knees, they are usually the firmest places on your body and you can’t hurt them so easily,” he said.
“If you are really in danger, the pressure point in the neck will cause anyone to fall back.”
The pressure point can be found on both sides of the neck pressing on the carotid arteries and applying pressure for seven to eight seconds.
Am I allowed to walk with any objects to defend myself with?
No. In Canada and under the Criminal Code, items such as knives, Tasers, and pepper sprays are illegal to carry around and use for the purpose of self-defence.