The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is investigating a video that appears to show a subway operator telling riders over the intercom to “call the mayor’s office” after a train was pulled out of service.
In the video, which has been shared on Reddit and Twitter, amassing more than 100,000 views on the latter, appears to be filmed by a rider on the subway.
“I suggest you guys call customer service if you’d like to voice your displeasure,” a voice over the intercom can be heard saying. “You should probably call the mayor’s office – John Tory – he’s the one who’s in charge here, so you should probably call him and let him know what you think about this.”
“I do apologize for this inconvenience. I do apologize for the lack of communication from transit control. These guys really don’t care what you guys are doing,” the voice continues.
A rider on the subway at the time of the announcement told CP24 it was made "two to three times" after the train stopped at Ossington station, adding that the situation was "chaos."
When reached for comment, the TTC said it is aware of the video and is “looking into it.”
“This is not an appropriate way to advise customers of delays in service,” Stuart Green, spokesperson for the TTC, told CTV News Toronto Thursday.
Mayor John Tory's office also issued a statement Thursday in response to the video.
“The delay of the subway referenced in the video was so first responders could assist a rider injured on the tracks at Ossington station. The Mayor believes most riders and operators would be understanding of that," the statement read.
The video has surfaced following a wave of recent safety incidents and service disruptions on the TTC in 2023.
Since Jan. 20, two riders have been stabbed on TTC vehicles, a man was arrested for allegedly attempting to push another individual onto subway tracks, and a woman fell down a set of stairs after someone tried to rob her of her purse.
TTC employees have also been the targets of violence. In the same timeframe, an employee was assaulted by a group of youth in a “swarming style attack,” another employee was shot with a BB gun pellet, and a group of workers were chased through Dundas station by a suspect with a syringe.
On Wednesday, the president of the union representing some 12,000 transit workers in Toronto said violent incidents had reached “crisis levels,” calling for the establishment of a national transit safety task force.
“The increase in violence is becoming more and more problematic…It’s only a matter of time, unfortunately, before these injuries become catastrophic and start to take lives. We need to act now, not tomorrow, now,” John Di Nino, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Canada, said in an interview.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said that he is “shocked’ by the violence on the network, and said more needs to be done to address what he described as a “mental health crisis” playing out in the city.
“A lack of mental health supports undoubtedly contributes to a number of issues we are seeing in cities across the country,” Tory said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Some of this may have been brought on by the pandemic experience, and it’s high time we took an urgent, in-depth look at this possible cause and effect.”
With that, he said he has called for the prime minister and premiers to come together to come up with better solutions.
In an interview with CP24 on Wednesday, TTC CEO Rick Leary wouldn’t say whether or not he felt the system was safe for workers and riders.
“People know that we move millions of people a day, but when these high-profile incidents occur—and they’ve occurred more significantly in the last few days as we know – it really elevates the safety issue with the TTC,” he said.
“We’re talking with our customers, we’re talking with our employees about what we can do to make it safer and taking immediate action in some cases and then more longer-term actions in the other.”
The rash of attacks has prompted the Toronto Police Service (TPS), TPS Chief Myron Demkiw, TTC CEO Rick Leary, and Mayor John Tory to provide an update on transit safety on Thursday afternoon.
Thursday’s meeting isn’t the first on the topic – in December, Tory and Leary met with union heads and TPS to discuss safety and security on the system.
Following the December meeting, the TTC said it was adding more special constables to the system and increasing the visibility of TPS officers at stations. The 2023 proposed operating budget, which includes a $53M subsidy increase from the city, also proposes the creation of 25 additional special constable positions.
Green says that, while the TTC is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of riders, “we also know that there are bigger societal and systemic issues at play when it comes to the root causes of these incidents.”
If you feel unsafe or find yourself in danger while riding the TTC, the SafeTTC app can be used to report suspicious incidents in real-time. In designated waiting areas, phones can be found with two-way communications to Transit Control, which has a direct line to 911 in case of emergencies.