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TTC considers cameras to catch drivers flying past open streetcar doors

The TTC is considering putting cameras on streetcars to catch drivers illegally whizzing by open doors.

“TTC customers or pedestrians who are either boarding or exiting have been hit, and over the decades, people have lost their lives,” TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said. “It only takes one car to kill somebody or to hurt somebody seriously.”

Similar to red light cameras, the cameras would capture licence plates, allowing vehicle owners to be issued a fine for violating the Highway Traffic Act — $110 and three demerit points.

“It would act as a further deterrent and consequence, frankly, for this dangerous behaviour,” Ross said.

Glenn De Baeremaeker, city councillor for Ward 38, sits on the TTC board and put forward a motion in June 2015 asking “that TTC staff report back to the Commission on the feasibility of undertaking a pilot project that would assess and quantify the frequency of traffic violations by motorists who improperly pass streetcars while TTC streetcars are stopped.”

Ross said the TTC is in the preliminary stages of looking into available technologies and considering logistics.

“We have to sort out how those tickets are issued and how that information is collected,” Ross said.

A ‘significant’ safety issue

Before moving forward, the province would have to approve a pilot project and make necessary regulatory changes.

Ward 19 councillor Mike Layton sees the problem firsthand while riding the streetcar to work.

“One of the things that is most frightening is when those doors open and you’re getting off and you don’t know if the cars have stopped,” he said.

He thinks the camera idea is worth pursuing.

“The reality is, we don’t have an effective way of enforcing this very significant safety issue with respect to our roads.”

Red light cameras ‘really effective’

In August 2004, the Ontario government passed legislation that allows municipalities to operate red light cameras.

As part of a pilot project, 77 cameras were installed at high-risk intersections in Toronto.

Roger Browne, manager of traffic safety with the city of Toronto, calls the cameras “really effective” and said that according to the latest data, the cameras have decreased the number of T-bone collisions by 60 per cent.

An intersection needs seven or more collisions over a five-year period in order to warrant a camera. Browne said most of the cameras from the pilot project are being de-commissioned because they no longer meet those requirements.

“The numbers have dropped so significantly,” Browne said. “The purpose has been served.”

A new five-year red light camera program launched in Toronto on January 1. Over the next five to ten years, 75 new cameras will be installed at the intersections Toronto police have identified as having the highest number of collisions.

The TTC hopes to have a feasibility report on traffic cameras completed by the end of the year.