TORONTO, Aug. 12, 2016 /CNW/ - The Toronto Transit Commission's current plans to eliminate hundreds of frontline subway staff should be thought through more carefully and reconsidered in the wake of the recent credible terror threat, says the leader of Toronto's transit workers, Bob Kinnear.
Kinnear said that TTC management is planning to cut the more than 400 Subway Guard positions that have been a fixture on trains since the underground system first opened in 1954. The Commission hopes to save money in the long term by moving to one-person train operation.
A report published earlier this year based on the Global Terrorism Database concluded that "Transportation remains an alluring target for terrorists" because of the number of people who can be killed and the ease of access to transit systems. In recent years, terrorist attacks on the Madrid and London subway systems killed hundreds of people. Plots against transit systems that were averted in New York, Philadelphia, Berlin, Washington, D.C. and other cities were intended to kill many more, according to the report.
"The TTC's response to the RCMP alert was pretty feeble," said Bob Kinnear, President of the 10,500-member union that represents TTC and York Region transit operations and maintenance staff.
"Management sent a bulletin to supervisory staff that said 'If you see something, say something.' By eliminating the Subway Guards, however, there will be far fewer trained observers who can 'see something' or who can respond to passenger alarms from inside the trains. How very reassuring that must be to the 1.8 million TTC passengers per day."
Kinnear also said that the training given to TTC frontline staff about looking for and responding to potential bomb threats is minimal and inadequate.
"We know that anti-terror training given to transit workers in major U.S. cities is far more than what we receive in Toronto. They take the threat of terrorism more seriously, which is why several terrorist plots have been foiled.
"We applaud the RCMP for their diligence in stopping a potential rush hour bomb attack by an ISIS sympathizer. While we do not know that the TTC was a specific target, we do know that transportation is a favoured terror target. We need more, not fewer layers of security for the TTC. There has been a complacency here that we have warned about for years and that we now hope will be taken more seriously."
Kinnear said that the union had earlier this year recently conducted research on TTC users' opinions on the elimination of Subway Guards.
"A very large majority of TTC users, especially women who travel alone at night, were shocked to learn that the Subway Guards might be eliminated. And when they learned that the cost of the Guards was less than two percent of TTC fare revenues, the most common reaction was dismay that these cuts were even being considered. Now there is, regrettably, even more cause for concern."
Established in 1899, ATU Local 113 represents 10,500 operations and maintenance workers at the Toronto Transit Commission and York Region Transit.
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113
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