News / Toronto

TTC launches anti-harassment campaign, app

Awareness campaign is accompanied by new app that allows transit users to report incidents of sexual harassment, racism and homophobia via their smartphones.

Campaign materials for the TTC's new anti-harassment campaign.

Deborah Brown / Toronto Transit Commission

Campaign materials for the TTC's new anti-harassment campaign.

The TTC has launched a new public awareness campaign aimed at preventing sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, and other troubling acts on the transit system.

The campaign, dubbed “This Is Where . . . . ,” was unveiled on Wednesday, and includes a website as well as posters that will be placed on vehicles and in stations.

The awareness campaign is accompanied by a new app that allows transit users to report incidents to the transit control centre via their smartphones.

At a news conference at North York Centre station, TTC Chair Josh Colle called the initiative “probably one of the most important campaigns the TTC has undertaken in recent memory.”

The agency’s chief customer officer Kirsten Watson said the campaign and the SafeTTC app were aimed at “making a safe system even safer.”

“Unfortunately, harassment in public places, including on public transit, is far too common. It is our belief that identifying, acknowledging, and owning the problem is the first step to stop it,” she said.

The posters for the campaign use hard-hitting language that the TTC said was taken from the real-life experiences of transit users, with details that could identify them altered.

“Julia was exhausted after a hard day’s work and fell asleep on the blue night bus,” reads one of the ads.

“She heard the announcement for her stop and awoke to find a stranger touching her. Julia felt sick. She felt violated. She wanted to scream.”

The ads end with the line: “Crime and harassment on the TTC will not be tolerated.”

The SafeTTC app was developed by a Massachusetts-based company called Elerts that has supplied similar products to transportation agencies in Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and other American cities.

Transit riders can use the app to upload photos or descriptions of incidents. The complaints are sent to transit control staff, who can respond by dispatching transit enforcement officers or contacting the police if warranted. Transit control staff can also talk directly to the app user through the app’s chat function.

The app was originally supposed to come out as early as late 2016, but the TTC delayed its launch.

The agency says the app and the awareness campaign cost between $600,000 and $700,000.

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