TTC CEO suggests subway cell service makes transit safer

Amidst a number of recent incidents of violence on the TTC, Toronto Transit Commission CEO Rick Leary said he is urging Canada’s three main telecommunication companies to provide cellular service on the subway network.

Leary told city councillors on Thursday that for the last decade, transit service had been trying to introduce mobile phone service — in 20212, the TTC signed a deal to provide mobile phone service across the system — but there had been a lack of interest from Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc. or Telus Communications.

In the wake of the death of Gabriel Magalhaes, the 16-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed in an unprovoked attack at Keele station on March 26 and the public’s growing concerns about public safety onboard transit, Leary said talks with the telecommunication companies had commenced again. He said he would provide the TTC with an update in May.

“We’re in discussions with them right now trying to shame them to get in here,” Leary told council. “Because of the social issue that’s happening, the security issue, there seems to be more of an interest.”

In 2012, BAI Communications Inc. signed a 20-year deal worth $25 million for the exclusive rights to operate and install WIFI and cellular service along subway tunnels and inside stations. Leary said that Bell, Rogers and Telus refused to use it at that time.

According to The Globe and Mail, only Freedom Mobile customers can get service on the TTC. While wireless internet is set ip at all stations, it is not available between stations. Emergency calls can be made to 9-1-1 on any network but only on certain parts of the subway tunnels on Line 1.

Rogers spokesman Cam Gordon told The Globe and Mail in a statement that the company is “committed to being part of the solution.”

In a recent Tweet, former Metrolinx chief spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins spoke out about the lack of cellphone service on the TTC.

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