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On Guard For You campaign raises awareness of the importance of subway guards

On Guard for You logo.jpgTransit Toronto recently met with representatives of On Guard for You to discuss their campaign to demand that the TTC to continue operating two-person subway trains. They also announced a contest for interested Transit Toronto readers and followers (and others).

The campaign

The Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 113 - representing TTC workers - has developed On Guard for You as a public-information campaign. The campaign responds to a February 2021 Toronto-wide poll that measured public opinion on TTC management’s plan to eliminate subway-system guards.

(You can learn more about the poll here.)

Starting with Line 1Yonge - University, the TTC’s one-person train operation (OPTO) plan would change the longstanding practice of two-person subway operation: An operator who drives the train from the front car; and a guard in the rear of the train who has several safety-related responsibilities. With OPTO, the TTC would add the guard’s responsibilities to the operator’s duties. That means that just one crew member - the driver - is working at the front of a six-car, 137-metre (450-foot) train which may often carry as many aso 1,000 passengers

How will TTC subway riders benefit from OPTO? According to On Guard for You, they won’t. OPTO won’t save money. Higher-paid “station managers”, whose usefulness ends once the train leaves the station, will replace the guards. And OPTO won’t make the subway any safer because no-one will be performing the many safety responsibilities of subway guards.

The top ten guard safety responsibilities include:

  • preventing riders from being caught in, and dragged by, closing doors;
  • responding to on-board medical emergencies and alerting Emergency Medical Services;
  • making sure passengers are not trapped in the platform / train gap;
  • organizing / guiding passengers in tunnel evacuations due to fire, smoke or power outages;
  • looking out for lost or separated children and helping in reunifying parents with children;
  • safely intervening in assaults on passengers and calling authorities;
  • responding quickly to on-board rider reports of sexual or other harassmen and theft;
  • making sure passengers with mobility aids or in strollers can safely enter or exit trains;
  • taking over train operation if the driver is suddenly disabled; and
  • being alert to distressed or potentially suicidal passengers and get immediate help.

On Guard for You argues that OPTO is a huge step backward for public safety on the subway, the “central nervous system” of Toronto’s economic and social life.

Campaign organizers say that TTC management has refused to conduct meaningful public consultation on OPTO because they know the public would be very opposed to a much-less-safe subway system. They are relying on riders’ lack of awareness of the vital roles subway guards perform to ensure public safety.

It doesn’t have to happen. On Guard For You is asking you to demand a full public consultation on the issue of maintaining TTC subway guards. Visit to send a message to your City Councillor. It will take 30 seconds or less and will make a big difference to the more than half a billion riders per year who rely on a safe subway in Canada’s largest city.

(Or, sign the petition here.)


You can win one of 15 cash prizes of $156 each. ($156 is the cost of a monthly transit pass). Simply fill out the form here for your chance to win — you don’t have to buy anything. The contest ends June 25, 2021 at 12:01 p.m. Eastern Time. You must answer a skill-testing question. Open to legal residents of Toronto only who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received before each weekly contest closing date. Limit: one entry and one prize per person.

ATU Local 113 has represented Toronto public-transit employees for more than a century. It is committed to public safety and is proud of its industry-leading record.