Ottawa

'We want to hear about it,' OC Transpo tells female riders

OC Transpo is asking women who feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of another passenger aboard public transit to report the incident — no matter how minor the offence might seem at the time.

After sexual assault charges against man, women urged to report incidents — no matter how minor they may seem

OC Transpo is urging female riders to report uncomfortable incidents involving other passengers — no matter how minor the offence might seem at the time. (Stu Mills/CBC)

OC Transpo is asking women who feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of another passenger aboard public transit to report the incident — no matter how minor the offence might seem at the time.

"Even if you think it's too small, I still want to hear about it," said Gord Robinson, staff superintendent for OC Transpo's special constable unit.

Last week Ottawa police charged a man with four counts of sexual assault in connection to a series of incidents aboard OC Transpo buses over the past year.

Police said the incidents, which dated back to March 2017, involved young women who said a man either brushed their legs or touched their thighs with his hands, or in some cases touched their feet with his.

Robinson said it's often after a period of reflection that passengers decide to report such incidents.

"If you have that feeling, it's probably right. We want to hear about it," Robinson said.

 "I don't believe there's an incident too small to report. It assists in the future to identify certain areas, possible trends."

OC Transpo's Gordon Robinson tells riders what they should do if they're harassed or inappropriately touched by another passenger. 0:49

One way passengers can file complaints after the fact is by using OC Transpo's anonymous Transecure service.

Robinson called the online service especially useful for riders who may not feel comfortable reporting an incident directly to the transit operator, or to police.

'I thought it was just an accident'

Grace Ho experienced one such unsettling incident that happened to her sometime between 2008 and 2010, but she only ever told friends about it.

Ho said during a bus ride one day, a man sitting beside her intentionally touched her leg with his, so she got up and moved to another seat. The man followed her and took a seat immediately behind her.

"At that moment I thought, it's all in your head," said recalled.

Ho said she encountered the same man a second time. She said on that occasion he touched her arm, but she decided against causing a scene by confronting him.

"I thought it was just as accident."

'At that moment I thought, it’s all in your head,' recalled Grace Ho about the behaviour of a seatmate aboard an OC Transpo bus several years ago. (Stu Mills/CBC)