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TTC looks at ways to make women feel safer on transit

The yellow emergency alarm strip on TTC subways. YOUTUBE

The Toronto Transit Commission Board is taking a closer look at how to make sure women are safe on buses, subways and streetcars.

Earlier this month, city council requested that the TTC apply a full safety audit using a gender-specific lens when reviewing its accessibility audit to address safety concerns of women and women with disabilities.

“That’s obviously an important issue. We take the safety of our passengers and our employees very seriously,” TTC Chair Josh Colle explained. “We’re looking at ways that we can make sure that our system is safe for everyone but also to have some specific mechanisms that can help to make it safer for women.”

One of the options being considered is an app which will allow users to instantly report harassment.

“There’s been some discussion of using technology in more efficient ways and different apps that can help people who might not always be standing next to the designated waiting area to have those kinds of alarm buttons,” said Colle.

The app would allow passengers to contact transit security through their smartphone without having to worry drawing attention to themselves.

“We are looking into an app where someone could, on their phone, do something that doesn’t require them necessarily to get up and touch the stripe or touch a button if they don’t feel comfortable with that, that could quietly deploy our resources to that site,” said Colle.

One of the issues the TTC has to deal with is the geography covered by all methods of transit. Colle said they will be looking at other systems around the world to see how they have implemented better safety protocol.

“At the end of the day we want people to feel safe on the system,” he said. “It is an extension of the public space and so we recognize there are certain things that are always going to be difficult for us to manage with just so much geography that we cover, but we should try to do everything we can to make it safe.”

Colle said any passenger being harassed on the subway should make use of the emergency stripe on the which will deploy all of the TTC’s security infrastructure to that spot.

There has been no word on when they app will be completed and made available to transit users.

“At the end of the day, I believe the entire system is safe and I think the numbers show that, but if there is a way we can continue and improve that level, we would always do that.”

The findings of the full safety audit will be announced during the Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee meeting on Dec. 6.