ttc safety homeless

Outrage after the TTC claims homeless people are a safety concern

The TTC announced new ways for commuters to discreetly report safety issues this week with the expansion of its SafeTTC service. In addition to the existing app, passengers can now text a phone number or submit a web form to report issues.

It was supposed to be a quick and easy public relations win for the beleaguered transit service amid an unprecedented crime wave, but it has backfired catastrophically over the inclusion of one of the choices users are provided to report.

Placed on the same list as serious crimes involving weapons, assaults, robberies, and major threats like fires and suspicious packages, the TTC chose to include "homeless" in its "report a problem" dropdown web form menu.

In a since-deleted tweet, Toronto city councillor and potential mayoral candidate Josh Matlow stated that "People who've found themselves homeless are not the problem. It's the fact that they don't have homes that's the problem. Let's do better."

On Thursday morning, the TTC Customer Service Twitter account replied to one user's concerns, assuring that "the wording in the SafeTTC app is being looked into and will be corrected."

Another user asks, "If you are going to remove it, will there be an explanation as to how it got there in the first place?" The tweet continues, "Are homeless people welcome and safe when they ride on the TTC or are they official targets?"

Many are angry about the wording on the menu, with another commenter tweeting, "How the f**k is 'homeless' a category of 'safety problem' to report with this platform @TTChelps," adding, "homeless people have a right to use public transit as much as anyone else, this is a recipe for harassment of some of the most vulnerable people in the city."

TTC Senior Communications Advisor Stuart Green tells blogTO that the wording is not new, and has, in fact, "been part of the SafeTTC app since it was launched in 2017 and was intended to give customers the opportunity to advise the TTC of someone experiencing homelessness and in distress, which in turn would allow us to compassionately address each situation."

Green explains that "As some have recently expressed confusion about this, we are in the process of clarifying the reporting language on the app."

"The TTC will never ask those using the system for shelter to leave unless there are immediate health or safety concerns for that individual or others," concluded Green.

Lead photo by

Ashton Emanuel

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