I was riding the Skytrain at approximately 10pm on a Monday night, when the train rolled into Commercial Drive on the way to Waterfront, and an old Caucasian man with white hair came on board. The man wore all black, with a black baseball hat and a black backpack. I didn’t notice him until later, as I had my earphones on and was listening to music, but in between the pauses, I could hear him speaking quite loudly to no one in particular. Every few seconds I could hear him say the f word followed by the chink word.
There were around 15 other people on the train with me, all from different races, and no one seemed to be paying him any attention, but as his rambling went on they also got louder and more profane.
So after a few minutes, I turned off my music to listen to him and this is what he said, “You f-ing chink better take your money and go back to where you came from, cause we’re going to f-ing beat you and take it from you… Don’t belong here… There’s no cops on the train, I’m going to f-ing beat you.”
There was a lot worse and it scared me because I am Chinese and female, and he was looking straight at me when he said those words.
I’ve lived my whole life in Canada, grew up from a poor family, and worked hard to get where I’m at. I’ve dealt with racism and sexual harassment before, in all kinds of situations and from different people. But this time, I was deeply scared for myself because I didn’t know what was going to happen and what to do.
I pulled out my phone to call the Transit Non-Emergency Line, but I had forgotten that there is no reception at Granville Station.
At Burrard Station, I quickly got out and to my dismay, so did he and he was following me. I looked for a Skytrain attendant to inform them that there was someone making violent threats, but there was no one around.
I’m not a confrontational person, so I did the cowardly thing and ran home, while constantly looking behind me.
I believe that the man probably had some mental instability, or was highly drunk, but that doesn’t negate how serious his threats were or how frightened I was at the time.
I truly love Vancouver and its people, but after travelling solo in many different countries, Vancouver is still the only place that I feel unsafe to travel at night.
If Translink wants to make people feel safe while using their services, they should always have an attendant at each station. Why should I have to call the non-emergency line for help and wait for them to arrive, when someone should already be there at the station?
Translink Things to Note:
1) Granville Station – no reception
2) Have an attendant at each station, even at night
3) Have the attendant watch for violent/illegal behaviours and prevent them from boarding the trains. I saw the old man smoking on the platforms just before he got on, but there were no attendants at Commercial Drive
4) Have working turnstiles