ttc bus

TTC driver violently assaulted after asking passengers to put on their masks

Between fielding overcrowding and delays that aren't their fault, dealing with disgusting and sometimes biohazardous messes, and trying to handle problematic riders, being a TTC bus, streetcar or subway operator in Toronto can often be less-than-glamorous.

With new COVID-19 protocols in place, it has become even more difficult to manage customer safety for those who are simultaneously trying to get people where they need to go and, according to the union representing TTC employees, assaults against transit workers have escalated to a "disturbing" degree over the course of the health crisis.

One of such assaults happened earlier this week when a bus driver was physically attacked after asking a group of riders to wear masks, as per health and safety regulations on transit vehicles and just about everywhere else these days.

During the incident, which took place on Sunday night, the driver was injured by four transitgoers during an altercation about mask usage, and then had to wait for another bus to take her back to her home division.

Though the assault itself is shocking, the union is also concerned about the fact that the TTC "expects our members to drive packed buses, yet it can't drive an operator who has just been assaulted back to their division due to COVID-19-related concerns."

The union is insisting that in light of such episodes and the fact that they are all-too-common as of late, the TTC and the City of Toronto need to take further steps to protect transit operators during this particularly risky time.

This could include reducing interactions between drivers and commuters through rear-door boarding only, blocking off certain seats closest to drivers and ending in-person exchanges of cash fares and physical transfers.

"There needs to be more resources on the TTC system to ensure the safety of workers and riders," Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents more than 11,000 staff, wrote in a statement. "The TTC must enforce its own mandatory masks policy for riders."

Since the TTC made face coverings mandatory on its vehicles and in its stations last July, customers have continued to complain that the directive is not being followed by everyone and that there are no consequences for those who don't comply.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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