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.
Speaking of the web form, here are the categories of safety problems TTC riders can report. I have some questions about the wisdom of putting “Explosion” and “Power Outage” in the same bucket. pic.twitter.com/7FpwCAfwoQ— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) March 15, 2023
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."
This is plainly discriminatory @TTChelps. "Homeless" people are allowed to use the TTC. They are not a threat to anyone unless they are doing one of the other things on that list.— Election Digest (@ElectionDigest) March 15, 2023
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?"
Wait - so they are acknowledging that homeless people using the TTC for shelter is a problem... but the solution is to report them to the same service as an explosion or power outage???— TDot Resident (@TDotResident) March 15, 2023
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."
Thanks for your patience! This matter has been reviewed by the appropriate management/teams and the category will be removed from the form. ^FR— TTC Customer Service (@TTChelps) March 15, 2023
"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.
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