Union calls for ‘transit worker protection plan’ after 2nd stabbing in a week
Toronto police are searching for an assailant who stabbed a TTC bus driver several times during a fare dispute on Wednesday.
It’s the second stabbing of a TTC employee within a week.
The stabbing happened on Keele Street and Gulliver Road south of Lawrence Ave. W., said Insp. Richard Harris, spokesperson for Toronto police. The driver, who is in his early 50s, was operating a 41 Keele bus. Officers were called to the area at 12:55 p.m.
According to police, the driver got into a dispute over fares with four or five people. The argument began on the bus and continued outside the vehicle, where the driver was stabbed with a knife. His injuries are “not considered to be life-threatening,” police said.
Toronto paramedics took the driver, who is reported to be in stable condition with stab wounds to the torso and shoulder, to hospital.
Officers, canine unit search area
The group of riders fled south on foot.
Police described the person who stabbed the driver as a young Black male, about 16 to 17, about 130 lbs., about five foot six or five foot seven, with a dark complexion, wearing dark clothing with braided hair. The other riders were Black males as well.
Investigators are asking anyone who saw anything or who has cellphone or dashboard camera video taken in the area at about 1 p.m. to come forward. The TTC’s video technician was at the scene to help police get evidence from surveillance cameras on the bus.
Officers from 12 Division, plains clothes and uniformed members, are canvassing the area. Emergency task force members and the police’s canine unit also searched the area.
Union calls for plan to stop violence against workers
Marvin Alfred, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents nearly 12,000 TTC workers, said in a statement on Wednesday that a union representative visited the worker in hospital.
Wednesday’s stabbing follows an attack on Feb. 9. An on-duty TTC worker was stabbed on a southbound Line 1 subway train at Dupont Station after he asked a man on the train to stop being disruptive. The worker is recovering and police have arrested a suspect.
The union says it has called on the city and TTC management to draft a “transit worker protection plan” that includes increased enforcement and penalties.
“This violence cannot continue, and we need more protection immediately to ensure our safety,” Alfred said.
Jim Ross, chief operating officer at the TTC, said the driver has worked at the transit agency for more than 20 years.
“We take safety very seriously and the safety of our employees very seriously at the TTC and it’s troubling,” Ross told reporters.
Ross said TTC CEO Rick Leary went to the hospital to wish the driver a “fast and full” recovery.
“It’s really upsetting, actually, that somebody can just be in the course of operating a bus up and down the street in Toronto and this is the outcome. I think it’s very upsetting,” Ross added.
In a statement on Wednesday, Leary said: “The safety of our employees and the safety of our customers is the most important thing to me. We believe that everyone should be able to do their job without fear of violence and we are working closely with Toronto Police Services.”
Mayor John Tory tweeted about the stabbing to express support for the TTC worker.
“We are all thankful that the employee is recovering in hospital. We rely on TTC workers to keep our transit system running and any attack on our workers is completely unacceptable,” Tory said.
Tory said he spoke with union leaders this week about how the city can improve safety for workers.