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Cameras on TTC buses back in focus


City councillor and TTC Commissioner Brian Ashton believes yesterday’s shooting of an 11-year-old girl on board a North York bus will prompt a second look at surveillance cameras on TTC vehicles.

Ashton said a pilot project four years ago put cameras on some buses, but the project didn’t get off the ground for several reasons, including privacy.

“I think this (the shooting) will provide more motivation,” he said.

Ashton said that a committee of management and union personnel has been struck to study the issue again.

Ashton said the impetus for looking into cameras was a combination of driver safety and passenger security. But after the pilot, it was decided that the incidence of violence on buses did not warrant the expense. There were also issues with picture quality.

Paul McLaughlin, vice-president of Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the bus drivers, said today that the union doesn’t want cameras used in the wrong way.

“We don’t want them used for discipline. If somebody (a bus driver) happened to be smoking and they shouldn’t be, we don’t want them disciplined because they saw it on a camera.

There’s a lot of issues we would discuss, such as privacy.”

Four years ago, a shooting on a Lawrence Ave. bus in Scarborough led the TTC to announce that several Toronto buses would be equipped with surveillance cameras to improve safety for their passengers and drivers.

On average, the TTC has said, there is about one homicide a year on a transit system that carries 400 million passengers annually.