I am (now) an out gay man, but at the time these happened that was not the case. The first story is from the mid-to-late 90s when I would have been at most 18 either still in high school or just started university. I was riding alone on the SkyTrain early afternoon on a bright sunny weekday crossing the bridge from Columbia to Scott Road, one of the longer stretches between stations. I was in the back car of the train, there were maybe half a dozen other people, seemed totally normal. I was sitting sideways on that long bench down the middle of the older train cars. Anyway, as soon as we came out of the tunnel after Columbia an older somewhat but not very overweight man in his 40s wearing loose khakis and a dress shirt stood up for no reason (there were plenty of seats and we were still far from Scott Road) got right in front of me, and spent the entire span of time as we crossed the bridge blatantly playing with himself from inside his pants pocket right at my eye level. I had no idea what was going on or why this was happening…there was no reason for this man to be in front of me on this mostly empty train except to put on this “show” for me. I remember wondering whether the other people on the train were somehow in on this, because it was way too blatant to be happening right in the middle of a mostly empty train. I got off at the next station anyway, and only ever told a few friends about this who agreed it sounded like I was being perved on.
I’ve been the silent bystander plenty of times though, and scrolling through there is one other piece of advice that I can share about empowering the bystanders. Twitter. TransLink has a super-responsive twitter account, and that is by far the most discreet way of getting the word out that something sketchy is going on. Just tweet them the bus or train number, roughly where you are on the route, and the person on the other end of the tweet can probably forward the information to an operator/police. I have not tried this in Vancouver (yet) because I don’t live there anymore, but I can tell you that in Calgary it took three station stops between me tweeting at the transit account here that there were rowdy guys openly drinking on the train to cops showing up and divesting the bros of their booze. If nothing else, this would raise flags for them how frequently these issues take place.