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Future of TTC constables uncertain

by Tamara Cherry

It has been an uphill battle for TTC Special Constables to keep their jobs.

With increased calls to have transit lines patrolled by Toronto Police, the Special Constables will be stripped of their titles next year.

Their future remain unclear.

October 2010: The TTC loses its three-year battle with city officials and the police board to keep its Special Constables when it is decided that Toronto Police would continue patrolling the system. The order, which takes effect Feb. 1, came after an often heated debate over costs and misuse of power by Special Constables behaving like cops. While the officers will lose their Special Constable status, it remains unclear what their role — if any — will be.

March 2010: The annual Special Constable report to the TTC notes in 2009, they randomly inspected 233,470 Metro Passes, tickets and tokens which led to 93 arrests, 382 charges and 524 cautions for violations and possession of forgeries. Nearly 50 people were arrested after looking for free rides, 799 charges were laid and 1,164 people were cautioned for trying to avoid paying.

May 2010: TTC teams up with Toronto Police to tackle increased use of forged Metro Passes in Scarborough by launching Project Free Ride. The four-day blitz in 43 Division led to 30 arrests and 94 charges being laid. The Special Constables also conducted four, week-long blitzes along the Queen St. streetcar line to ensure riders had proofs of payment. By November 2009, the service reported more than 43,000 passengers had been checked and six people were arrested.

October 2009: New citation levels come into effect, increasing fines handed out by TTC Constables anyone who fails to respect priority seating, lies across seats, places feet on seats, or obstructs doors. The fines include $230 for smoking on TTC property instead of $95, and $420 for “altering mare media.”

June 2009: The Toronto Police Services Board approves a report that authorizes police chief Bill Blair to initiate discussions with the TTC “to develop a mutually agreeable transfer of responsibility for public transit safety and security” from the TTC to Toronto Police. Blair assures Special Constables “that we will be very respectful of their abilities, of their security, their job security, of their rights as employees and that they will receive the same respect from the Toronto Police Service as they have from the Transit Commission.”

May 2009: The Toronto Police transit unit rolls out with 40 patrolling officers.

February 2009: Transit union boss Bob Kinnear says the one-a-day assault rate on transit operators is just one reason why the TTC needs to scrap its Special Constable program and let Toronto Police oversee the security of the entire transit system.