Reducing violent incidents a priority for OC Transpo: Councillors Gower and Hill

By CityNews Ottawa

Violence on the OC Transpo transit system was up 85 per cent in 2022 for a total of 430 reported incidents, despite ridership hitting a peak of just 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The numbers were revealed during a presentation from OC Transpo's chief safety officer at a meeting of the city's transit committee, Thursday, Feb. 8.

“I was obviously not pleased to hear that number,” said councillor for Barrhaven West David Hill on Wake Up with Rob Snow. “Anything above zero is unacceptable.”

The chief safety officer defined the incidents as involving physical violence, possibly with the use of a weapon – essentially anything beyond verbal harassment.

Hill, a member of the city's transit commission, said OC Transpo have indicated they are going to ensure safety mechanism and any “passive measures” are in place.

“This becomes an enforcement issue if there are issues that cross the line,” said Hill. “We need to make sure that there's specific and public deterrence, so that people understand that it's unacceptable to have behaviour like that.”

Coun.Glen Gower said on The Sam Laprade Show the increase wasn't necessarily a surprise as ridership has increased. However, the sheer numbers were shocking.

“I was surprised about how high the number is,” said Gower. “This is the first time we've been presented with these numbers in this way.”

OC Transpo has made the issue a priority, according to Hill, and the transit commission to be following the numbers closely.

“I can assure you that going forward that this is a number we will be keeping our fingers on the pulse of to ensure that we can […] ensure the public that this is an appropriate mechanism for them to commute.”

Gower said the issues reflect a trend in society generally with people continuing to deal with the stress of the pandemic and financial hardships that have followed.

Getting to the root cause of the violence is another priority.

“There's some serious problems going on that need to be addressed by every level of government, by every level of law enforcement,” Gower said.

Listen to the full conversation with Councillor David Hill on Wake Up with Rob Snow below,

And Councillor Glen Gower on The Sam Laprade Show.

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