Billings, Blair transit stations top list for assaults on Transpo

Billings Bridge and Blair transit stations top the list of reported assaults on OC Transpo property so far this year.

Two out of 100 incidents special constables responded to between Jan. 1 and Nov. 23 were harassment-based — meaning 98 assaults.

“That’s still just the tip of the iceberg,” said Julie Lalonde from anti-street harassment group Hollaback Ottawa, adding less than 10% of assaults are reported nationwide.

“It confirms what we have been hearing directly from women and directly from transit riders, which is, they don’t feel safe.”

Data crunched by Transpo staff tallied 64 incidents on board, while 36 took place at stations.

The figures include eight assaults reported near Billings Bridge, followed by seven close to Blair.

Lalonde has been pressing city officials for months to be transparent and take action.

By keeping the statistics for internal use, “what kind of message are we sending to these perpetrators?,” asked Lalonde.

Blair station has been “on the radar” of riders, she said, since Aug. 11, after a 15-year-old girl was brutally attacked at 5 a.m.

She was allegedly taken from the station and sexually assaulted by four 19-year-old men, who are all facing charges.

Another attack was reported by a 29-year-old woman on Oct. 17 at 1:50 a.m.

She was followed while exiting the station, heading east on Ogilvie Rd.

Cops said the man tried to chat her up, pushing her into a secluded area between Blair Rd. and Jasmine Cres., where he sexually assaulted her.

The file remains open.

Women’s Initiatives For Safer Environments program director Elsy David said she frequents Blair station.

In lieu of the attacks, “I am always more alert when I use the pedestrian bridge,” said David, adding it’s “isolated after hours.”

She’s encouraging more people to come forward.

“When people don’t report it, it’s easy to say a problem doesn’t exist,” said David.

The figures weren’t included in Transpo’s 10-point safety plan released four months ago, however, “we are working with key stakeholders to develop a data collection process to provide information about safety and security issues in the system and potential trends or problem areas,” said a statement from the city’s communications team attributed to transit safety boss Jim Babe.

They’re asking the public to come forward “to assist us in addressing these issues and preventing future incidents.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kellyroche6

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/12/03/billings-blair-transit-stations-top-list-for-assaults-on-transpo

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