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Friday, August 29, 2014

How much crime is there on the TTC?

TTC crimeThe Toronto Transit Commission might be "The Better Way," but is it the safer way? TTC property is fitted with numerous safety features--CCTV, security mirrors, public telephones, intercoms, and designated waiting areas--and the new streetcars, which begin rolling out this weekend, will come with the same yellow Passenger Assistance Alarms found on the subway. Despite the security, crime still occurs, but how safe is the TTC compared to other transit systems?

The TTC keeps a record of offences against customers and staff--assaults, thefts, sexual assaults that involved police attention--and publishes the numbers in the monthly CEO's report. Over the last 12 months, there were 413 recorded offences against customers and 398 against TTC staff, a total of 811 incidents.

The numbers average out to about 2.22 incidents a day, about evenly split between riders and workers. Customer incidents peaked at 42 in July 2014, 43 for staff in Oct. 2013, but the numbers remained relatively stable throughout the year.

Compare those numbers with the Montreal transit system, where, in 2013, there were a total of 754 infractions under the criminal code reported to transit police, an average of 2.07 incidents a day. Another report, released April, showed an overall 20 percent decrease in criminal activity on the Metro, but singled out one hub, Berri-UQAM, as the most dangerous. Crimes against people: assault, robbery, sexual assault were most common (303 incidents,) edging out property crimes, like theft and robbery (279.) Other criminal code infractions, including prostitution, accounted for the remainder.

On the Calgary C-Train, there were a total of 856 person, property, and other criminal code infractions in 2013, an average of 2.34 incidents a day. Like in Montreal, person crimes were the most common (259,) but property crimes (221) saw the biggest increase--up 31.5 percent from 2012.

Cops on Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority recorded a total of 718 criminal incidents on the city's various transit lines in 2013. Compared to the first six months of 2014, there was a 28 percent decrease in robberies, but a 38 percent increase in aggravated assault. Larceny accounted for the majority of police activity. Across the year, there was an average of 1.97 incidents a day in 2013.

In this small sample group, Toronto's transit system ranked 3rd in terms of criminal activity. Calgary's transit police reported the most incidents, followed by Toronto, Montreal, and Boston, but it's worth noting that each jurisdiction calculated its figures differently. Boston, for example, included only "selected" offences in its report. For Montreal and Calgary, I excluded by-law infractions, because the TTC does the same for its figures.

Varying ridership levels would also have affected the rate of crime for each transit system: fewer riders should equal less crime, in theory.

Crime is relatively rare on the TTC, but it's not significantly different from transportation in other cities.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Bill Wu / blogTO Flickr pool.

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

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