TTC board to consider asking province for cameras on exterior of streetcars
A TTC streetcar is seen on Spadina Avenue in this file photo. (Courtney Heels/CP24)
TTC Chair Jaye Robinson is pushing for the installation of enforcement cameras on the exterior of streetcars in the wake of a commuter being hit by a dump truck as she stepped off a Bathurst streetcar last week.
The accident happened on Bathurst Street at Ulster Street just before 9 a.m. on Sept. 17.
Witnesses told CP24 that the woman had just stepped off a streetcar when a truck travelling in the right lane went past the vehicle’s open doors and hit her.
The woman escaped serious injury but her close call drew significant attention to the dangers faced by streetcar riders stepping into a live lane of traffic.
At a meeting today, the TTC’s board will consider a motion from Robinson to ask the province for the necessary changes to the Highway Traffic Act to permit the use of enforcement cameras on streetcars.
The cameras would be used to identify and penalize drivers who fail to stop for open streetcar doors, putting commuters at risk.
“This is a big enough problem that I am moving the motion today and it is an emergency motion,” Robinson told CP24. “We can put up all the decals, all the signs, all the flashing lights on streetcars but if we don’t have the ability to amend the Highway Traffic Act we can’t enforce and that just leaves us standing there not being able to act.”
The TTC says that 26 individuals were struck by a car or bicycle while boarding or exiting a streetcar between 2014 and 2016, suggesting last week’s incident was not isolated in nature.
In fact, Robinson noted in a memo accompanying her motion that various TTC boards have directed staff to explore the use of cameras to ensure passenger safety in recent years. She said that back in 2017 then TTC chair Josh Colle also formally reached out to the previous Liberal government to request the legislative changes needed to utilize enforcement cameras on streetcars, however that request was never granted.
“We have done everything on our end that we can but the piece that is missing is the province and their ability to amend the act so we can enforce,” Robinson told CP24. “We are moving millions of riders across the city every hour and we have one of the biggest streetcars networks in North America so we need to act swiftly.”
NDP echo call for enforcement cameras on streetcars
Prior to today’s TTC board meeting, NDP transit critic Jessica Bell held a press conference where she echoed Robinson in her call for the legislative change necessary to permit the cameras.
Bell told reporters that practically “every transit rider has had the frightening experience of exiting as a streetcar and nearly being hit by a driver that has failed to obey the road rules.”
She said that by permitting enforcement cameras, the province will make it easier for police to “find and fine drivers who break the rules.”
“The Ford government has made it easier for safety cameras to be used on school buses for this purpose, it is time for those rules to be expanded to include transit vehicles as well,” she said.
Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney was asked whether she would be supportive off amending the Highway Traffic Act to allow the use of enforcement cameras on streetcars on Tuesday but she would only say that staff would “staff will look at it and make sure it aligns with policy and safety objectives” once they receive a formal proposal.
“We look forward to receiving a formal request,” she said.