The TTC is watching you on the bus, the subway

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Feel like you are being watched? That’s because you are.

The Toronto Transit Commission is aiming to install security cameras in all buses, streetcars and subway stations by the end of 2008 " and a similar system might eventually show up in London.

Ward 18 councillor and TTC chair Adam Giambrone said this is part of an $18 million project that will install approximately 12,000 cameras in three years.

Buses will be fitted with four cameras each, and streetcars with four to six, ensuring every rider entering Toronto’s system will be photographed.

Although people are technically safer on the TTC than on Toronto streets, Giambrone said security is always an issue.

For him, the project is about the safety of the 1.5 million people who ride Toronto public transit each day.

“The safety of our passengers is important,” Giambrone stressed.

Being one of the largest cities in North America and the second largest transit system in the country, Toronto officials feel the threat of a terrorist attack is very real.

“Toronto is potentially a target,” Giambrone warned. “We have to take some action.”

Giambrone said the videos will only be available to the Toronto Police Service, and only in the event of a criminal investigation.

The project is also aimed at major crimes like assault and murder on the transit system. One such incident occurred in April this year, when a young man was fatally stabbed on a subway car in Toronto.

“We hope [the cameras] have a deterrent effect,” Giambrone said. “Perhaps more importantly, it allows us to catch the people responsible for crimes.”

Tim Blackmore, a professor in the faculty of media, information and technoculture, said society has a lot of faith in the illusion of safety from surveillance.

“The way to get safety is to go to the people who are aggrieved in a society, find out what their problems are and fix them.”

Blackmore said we put our faith in science and technology, rather than examining the core issue.

“We use technology as a band-aid,” he said.

London may follow in Toronto’s footsteps on the camera initiative. Larry Ducharme, general manager of the London Transit Commission, said the city will be discussing a similar project in its first quarterly meeting of 2008.

“We have set aside budget monies to look at improving safety and security on buses, which could include cameras.”

Matthew Brown, a fourth-year history student, thinks security cameras should be reserved for larger cities.

“In Toronto, it would be ideal.

“The buses [in London] don’t run late enough,” he added.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette