In the last month, at least five serious incidents of violence have been reported on Metro Vancouver transit.
On April 1, a man survived having his throat slashed on a Surrey bus in an attack that has since been deemed federal terrorism.
West Vancouver bus drivers have voiced safety concerns after a bloody fight broke out onboard April 12, in which a man was taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act.
A 60-year-old man was taken to hospital on April 14 after a "serious assault" occurred on a bus near Hastings and Jackson in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
A 20-year-old man was taken to hospital after a stabbing onboard a train at Surrey Central SkyTrain Station on April 15.
But it was the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Ethan Bespflug aboard a Surrey bus on April 11 that sparked Metro Vancouver residents to take matters into their own hands and start a petition calling for better BC TransLink safety measures.
IHIT has taken over the investigation into the tragic death of Bespflug and says they believe it to be an isolated incident with "no connection to the Lower Mainland gang conflict."
While police search for the suspect, the fear that has followed this series of incidents has resulted in a public outcry to "improve the public's safety on Translink."
The petition, posted to Change.org Saturday (April 15), already has over 5,500 signatures (as of the publication of this article) and claims "public confidence in transit safety, particularly at night, has been shattered."
"Transit police call these vicious incidents' Anomalies,' which is not true; it's a growing trend that needs to be stopped now," reads the petition. "This is just one of many violent or deadly incidents on TransLink buses, and this must stop."
TransLink takes measures to keep transit users safe
In an emailed statement to V.I.A., TransLink says Transit Police have "increased their presence and specialty teams have been redeployed to frontline patrols, with additional resources also called in."
The petition, in particular, criticizes the low number of Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers available to cover the 18,000 square kilometre system. Still, TransLink reports that the enforcement agency is in the process of adding 24 new Community Safety Officers.
"These officers will have specialized training in mental health awareness, crisis de-escalation, legal studies, traffic safety, and community policing," says a TransLink spokesperson.
"Our system features a number of safety measures, including transit security officers that patrol our system daily, silent alarms on every SkyTrain that will call for emergency help onboard any vehicle at any time, and live radio systems – allowing bus operators to request police assistance from anywhere."