OC Transpo riders say they feel safe despite bus assaults

September has yielded the most reported assaults on OC Transpo property so far this year, according to the city’s tally.

Fourteen assaults were recorded by city staff in September, followed by 13 in August, and 12 in June.

Data was sorted into categories comparing harassment versus assaults, also pitting those occurring on platforms and stops against those on board.

Overall, special constables responded to 100 incidents between Jan. 1 and Nov. 23 — 98 assaults and two for harassment.

The official count: 64 incidents on board, with 36 taking place at station platforms or bus stops.

Ten assaults on buses were reported in June, topping the list.

January and September were next with eight.

Seven were recorded in February, April, May, and August.

Billings Bridge is leading the way with seven reported assaults on Transpo platforms and stations.

Four incidents were reported at the MacKenzie King Bridge, and three at Blair station.

Riders polled by the Sun on Thursday couldn’t believe Billings has the highest count.

“I feel very safe,” said Laurie, who declined to give her last name.

A regular rider who frequents Billings and Blair stations, she sometimes passes through South Keys.

“I have no problems,” she said.

Dan MacGregor comes into town from Greely once a week on Route 204.

“It is surprising, but it must be at night, because it certainly isn’t during the daytime,” he said.

Don DesRoches agrees.

“There’s too many men around who wouldn’t let it (happen),” said DesRoches, adding he served in Korea and would intervene if he saw someone being attacked on the bus or transit property.

“My legs are gone, but I can let out a nice roar,” said DesRoches.

Time of day was not noted in the information provided by the city.

Daylight doesn’t equate safety, said Julie Lalonde from anti-street harassment group Hollaback Ottawa.

She said she’s had her phone jacked twice: Once at 11 a.m., and again at noon, along with being groped.

When the bus was “totally packed,” another guy fondled her at 8 a.m.

“It highlights, for us, how absurd the ‘don’t go out at night’ message is, because it doesn’t stop anything,” said Lalonde.

Along with other representatives from women’s groups, Lalonde is discussing safety issues with Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau on Dec. 10.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kellyroche6

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/12/06/oc-transpo-assaults-on-the-rise

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