TORONTO, July 28, 2016 /CNW/ - The president of the 10,500-member Toronto Transit Workers, Local 113 reacted angrily to the assault against a TTC bus operator last month that had been recorded by an in-bus camera. The video released by York Region police shows the passenger deliberately unscrewing the top of a coffee mug, throwing the contents at the operator and then casually walking off the bus.
"This outrageous assault against a public transit worker is regrettably all too common," says Bob Kinnear. "We hope that someone helps the police identify this suspect and bring him to justice."
"What makes a person attack someone performing their job and serving the public is a mystery but it is a crime that happens virtually every day in Toronto. Our members have been kicked, punched, slapped, choked and threatened so often that it is hard to find one who has worked for the TTC for a while who has not had such an experience." Kinnear added.
Kinnear says a climate of fear pervades the frontline TTC workforce.
"We never know whether the next person who gets on the bus or streetcar will be mentally unstable for some reason and take it out on the operator. It's always in the back of our minds and puts us on edge.
"Even if 99.9 per cent of our passengers are decent people who would not dream of attacking a bus or streetcar driver, which we know to be the case, we carry 1.8 million passengers every day on the TTC so even a tiny percentage of criminals is an ever-present threat. No one should have to work in fear."
Kinnear said that the deterioration of Toronto transit service resulting from years of government cutbacks and neglect are at least partially responsible for the anger and frustration that puts some passengers "over the edge."
"The intolerable crowding and long wait times between vehicles is very often blamed on the man or woman at the wheel. We feel badly for our inconvenienced passengers but we are powerless to remedy the situation.
"When Mayor Tory orders a cutback to the TTC budget, he does not experience the consequences from his chauffeur-driven limousine. Maybe if he had to take two buses and a subway to get to work he wouldn't be so eager to deny working people the transit service they need and deserve."
An average of two assaults a day are reported on the TTC but Kinnear says the actual number is higher.
"If we stopped the vehicle and notified the police every time we were threatened or spit at by angry passengers, we would anger even more riders and the stress of reporting the assault would only just be beginning. It is a shameful situation."
Note: Bob Kinnear has issued the above media advisory but is unavailable at this time for further interviews.
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113
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