At left, three of the TTC’s newest Special Constables. At right, the new operator assault PSA.
Here’s something awful about us: when we learned last year that the TTC’s latest “Marketing Communications Plan” [PDF] would include an education campaign around “Operator Assault,” we got a little giddy; how would the TTC’s infamously ditzy marketing department choose to frame this serious issue? “The assault goblins didn’t do this …people did!”?
Yet the actual campaign makes us wistful for the days of non-sequitur levity, instead going in the direction of the train-delays-are-the-fault-of-your-own-sickly-self ads that were quickly pulled after the Star‘s City Hall bureau pointed out just how stupid and condescending they were.
“Treat a TTC worker as you’d want to be treated.” You know how we don’t want to be treated? Like (potential) criminals. And even if we were criminals, we’d be offended by the suggestion that our violent tendencies could be curtailed by a stern warning—there are legal penalties for committing assault? Who knew?
What we already do know is that the TTC regards us with leery suspicion; why else would they have blown $20 million to outfit buses and streetcars with cameras? To steal your answers to the Metro crossword? Surely the money could have gone a long way toward hiring more constables or a short way toward implementing an automated fare system; “fare enforcement” was the motive in 43% of the operator assaults reported in the first nine months of last year.
But as friendly, polite, and helpful as most operators are (streetcar drivers are in particular a jolly bunch), the union and the TTC would rather watch us, threaten us, and wall us out [PDF]. Treat them as we would like to be treated? Try making a video or taking a photo of a TTC employee. Try reading off to them the consequences of their hypothetical abusive behaviour. Try erecting your own plexiglass barrier in a vehicle. Perhaps “do unto others” is not the better way.