These are real scenes from TTC cameras:
- A woman slips into the gap between the train and platform.
- Two trains narrowly avert crashing into each other.
- A man not paying attention falls on the track.
- A man is caught in the doors and dragged by a moving train.
Each of these frightening situations ended safely, thanks to the Guard whose job is to look out for passenger safety
But not for long!
TTC is Eliminating the Subway Guard!
The TTC’s plan to eliminate the Subway Guards is known as One Person Train Operation (OPTO), and it means exactly what it says: Subway Guards will be removed from the train and all their safety responsibilities will be assigned to the Drivers. This means one person, working alone, will be responsible for safely driving a six-car train that often carries more than a thousand passengers.
OPTO will happen on the Yonge-University-Spadina Line before the end of this year, later on the Bloor-Danforth Line. Few subway users know this is happening. The TTC hasn’t bothered consulting the ones who will be most affected: the riders.
Eliminating the Guard poses a direct risk to rider safety. In return, what are the benefits to riders? The TTC has never clearly explained what these benefits would be.
The TTC is owned by the people of Toronto. They deserve a say.
Why The Subway Guard Is Important
Each subway train has 2 crew members – a Driver and a Guard. While the Driver concentrates on the track ahead, the Guard is responsible for passenger safety.
Here are a few of the ways Subway Guards look out for you:
Subway Operators and Guards are trained to do both jobs. If an Operator is suddenly unable to drive the train safely, the Guard (like an airplane co-pilot) can take over its operation. Under the TTC’s One Person Train Operation scheme, passengers would be stuck in a tunnel until a replacement Operator is located and dispatched.
Setting a World Record for Tunnel Evacuations
At 4:15 p.m. on August 14, 2003, the worst power blackout in North American history, affecting 50 million people, shut down Toronto. Nearly 20 subway trains suddenly stopped and went dark. Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded in tunnels between stations. Coming less than two years after the U.S. terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, fear quickly spread underground that Toronto had been attacked.
The Operator and Guard on each train could not get clear direction from Transit Control, the nerve centre of TTC Operations. There was no cell phone service or radio. Frightened, confused, hungry, and increasingly angry passengers, with no access to restrooms or food, challenged the train crews to “Do something! Anything!” to get them out.
The Guards and Operators, frustrated by lack of direction from TTC management, calmed and organized passengers and guided them out of the trains to the nearest station. By 8:00 p.m., every stranded passenger was above ground. It was the largest public transit evacuation in history. There were no reports of injuries, a fact that was hailed around the world as “miraculous.” It was no miracle. It was the training, professionalism and acute concern for passengers displayed by the Operators and Guards.
What if there had been only one TTC crew member on each subway train? How long would the evacuation have taken? Would there have been any injuries? We can never know and, hopefully, we will never find out.
Guards take over when Operators can’t drive.
Drivers and Guards switch roles
On subway trains with 2-person crews, the Guard and the Operator are trained for both jobs. If the Operator is unable to safely drive the train (because of a sudden medical emergency, for example), the Guard can immediately take over the controls, drive the passengers safely to the next station and summon help for the Operator.
What would have happened if there had been no Guard to immediately take over that shocking situation? There are many problems with the TTC plan for One Person Train Operation.
This is one of the worst.
Why hasn’t the TTC asked your opinion?
The TTC is worried you won’t like their plan – and they’re right!
A recent citywide poll found that 71% of respondents disapproved of the TTC’s plan to eliminate the Guard, and 84% said it was important that the TTC hold public consultations before implementing the plan.
How Safe would you feel on a subway train that had no Subway Guard, just one driver?
Do you approve or disapprove of the decision to eliminate the Subway Guards?
How important is it that public consultation must happen before safety-related decisions like eliminating the Subway Guards are made?
*From a telephone poll of a randomly selected sample of 2515 Toronto residents, 18 years of age and older. Poll was conducted between February 4 and 6, 2021. The margin of error on this sample is plus or minus 2%, nineteen out of twenty times (95% confidence interval).