Violence against Toronto transit passengers rose 46% last year compared to 2021, data shows

Newly released data shows that the number of violent incidents against TTC passengers rose 46 per cent last year compared to 2021.

There were 145 violent incidents against passengers in December alone, CEO's report says

A streetcar approaches a stop at Yonge and Dundas on Jan. 26, 2023. Police will increase their presence on public transit after a surge of violent incidents on the TTC.
A streetcar approaches a stop at Yonge and Dundas on Jan. 26, 2023. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Violent incidents against Toronto public transit passengers rose 46 per cent last year compared to 2021, newly released data shows.

There were 1,068 violent incidents against passengers in 2022, according to a report released by TTC CEO Rick Leary on Wednesday, including 245 in the last two months of the year alone. The previous year, there were 734 incidents. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2018, there were 679 incidents.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said in a statement on Thursday that the transit agency is concerned about the rise in violence against passengers.

"Safety is paramount to all we do and the TTC moves hundreds of millions of trips every year without incident. But we cannot and do not take that for granted," Green said in the statement. "Like everyone, we are concerned about attacks on our customers and employees."

The figures released this week come after numerous high-profile incidents over the past year, including people pushed onto subway trackslit on fireshot at with BB gunsstabbedswarmed and other assaults. The report says there were 145 violent incidents recorded in December and 100 in November. They include assault, robbery, theft, mischief and harassment.

Green said the transit agency has taken steps to respond to the rise in violence.

"The recent rise in these serious, higher profile incidents is why we are working closely with the City of Toronto to deploy additional staff teams with expertise in addiction, mental health, housing and security," he said.

"These teams provide a balanced approach that is responsive, preventative and compassionate."

Toronto Transit Commission signage is pictured on Jan. 26, 2023. Police will increase their presence on public transit after a surge of violent incidents on the TTC.
An ambulance is pictured here parked near a TTC sign late last month. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

While TTC safety continues to be a concern, ridership remains below pre-pandemic levels, according to the report.

"As of the week ending February 10, overall weekday boardings stand at 68 per cent of pre-COVID levels at 2.20 million, which is a record since the pandemic," the report says.

In January, the TTC said it would provide access to 50 security guards and 20 community safety ambassadors, while Toronto police said they would deploy 80 officers on the transit system.

In the report, Leary said the safety of customers and employees is a priority for the TTC.

"We remain committed to working with our City of Toronto partners, our unions and other stakeholders on ways to enhance safety on the TTC," he said in a commentary.

A woman in her 20s has been stabbed multiple times on a Toronto streetcar on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. A suspect was arrested and the victim taken to hospital with what police say are “life altering” injuries.
A Toronto police officer walks alongside a TTC streetcar after a woman, 23, was stabbed several times on the vehicle late last month. Another woman, 43, was arrested and charged with attempted murder, among other offences, in connection with the attack. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

According to the report, the TTC has an action plan to prevent assaults. The plan includes:

  • Increased presence of special constables throughout the TTC network.
  • More Streets to Homes workers to provide support and outreach for unhoused people.
  • Increased presence of TTC maintenance and transportation managers, who will rotate through the subway network during peak service to ensure safety and reliability of service.
  • Increased vehicle cleaning midday during peak hours to maintain a clean environment.
  • Ongoing work with the city and police to increase community support and improve incident response through short and long-term plans.
  • Monitoring of statistics by special constables to identify issues.

In 2022, the TTC said its special constables increased what it calls "high visibility patrols" in subway stations. The TTC added it is in the process of hiring 55 additional special constables in 2023.

"These positions are approved as a priority," the report says.

With files from Meg Roberts