– September 05, 2011; Daniel Mermelstein, Howl Staff
If you’ve been using the TTC recently you might have noticed signs that say “When it comes to everyone’s safety, we don’t miss a thing. Security cameras on buses, streetcars and collector booths.” These ads are part of the TTC’s Zero Tolerance for Assault campaign which began a few years ago.
I’m no nutty conservative who flips out when someone takes my picture (because cameras will suck my soul out), but I’ll admit I remember thinking George Orwell thoughts when I first got onto a streetcar with the new surveillance systems. Then I got over it by thinking about the rationale of public safety enforcement. However, the new TTC ad campaign strikes me as, if not hypocritical, at least premature.
To begin, the new campaign is an extension of the “Golden Rule” thing they had going on last year with the “Treat a TTC worker the way you’d like to be treated” and “Every day at least one TTC worker is assaulted. That’s one too many” posters. If you remember, the main concern of that campaign was the string of assaults on TTC workers. Although TTC officials occasionally mentioned passenger safety as well, the ads mainly emphasized their commitment to protecting their own employees.
Their new ads, however, seem to be self-contradicting. If everyone’s safety is important to the TTC, why are they advertising that their cameras are located only where their staff is? Shouldn’t the subway cars also be included? The problem is, current subway cars don’t have cameras installed, nor does there seem to be any plan to install cameras in the near future. The new and improved subway trains do come equipped with cameras, but they won’t fully replace the old trains for another three years. The reasoning seems to be that upgrading the old trains isn’t necessary because they’ll eventually be replaced. Also, there aren’t any TTC personnel in most subway cars and the conductor is safely locked in his compartment. Thus it would seem that the TTC’s advertisements about being concerned over “everyone’s” safety are a few years earlier than their implementation efforts.
If the TTC really held their workers and the public in the same regard, their security efforts would include installing cameras on all their properties and vehicles, including the old subway cars. Assault on a passenger can occur within the next three years. Even if they don’t care about their riders, they could make a little more of an effort to make it seem like they do.