TTC scraps passenger information cards following mass backlash
TTC employees will no longer use a controversial "field information" form to collect data from passengers accused of misconduct, says the transit commission's CEO Rick Leary.
The decision comes just days after the Toronto Star published a widely-shared report on the existence of said forms, revealing that transit enforcement officers and fare inspectors had filled out more than 40,000 of them between 2008 and 2018.
Many in the city were surprised to learn on Monday that TTC officers had been collecting personal information about riders who they believe had commited an offence, but who were not issued a ticket, and that the agency stored that information in a database for 20 years.
Civil rights and privacy advocates have likened the practice to police carding, especially after learning that some of the forms used by TTC officers were identical to those used by Toronto Police prior to 2015.
TTC officials defended the field information cards earlier this week, calling them an "important investigative tool" for identifying repeat offenders.
Today, Leary told The Star that he ordered the TTC's transit enforcement unit to stop using these specialized "718" forms, which have fields for such information as a passenger's name, address, birth date, aliases, license number, physical features and race.
CEO Rick Leary advised #TTC board that, effective immediately, special constables will use notepads, not the 718 form, to record written offense warnings. As well, an ongoing review of the kind of information that is recorded and work on an updated form will be expedited.— TTCStuart (@TTCStuart) March 14, 2019
"The TTC is going to discontinue as of now using that form," said Leary, noting that he made his decision after discussion the issue with Toronto Police Chief Marc Saunders.
“The similarity of the form is what's the concern," he continued, referring to the cards used by police to practice random street checks. "We don't do carding, we don’t do random checks."
While Leary admits that the form itself is problematic, he says it's still necessary to collect information about passengers who may be breaking the rules or law.
Fare inspectors and transit enforcement officers will thus collect personal information from passengers in their notebooks moving forward.
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