A recent assault on a Winnipeg bus has once again sparked calls for improved safety measures from the community.
On Sunday, a 29-year-old man was arrested after assaulting a bus driver at Lagimodiere and Grassie. Police say the man told the driver to take him to a street not on the bus route, and when the driver refused, the man began beating him until officers arrived.
“We’re very upset. This was a completely unprovoked attack,” said Amalgamated Transit Union President Chris Scott. “A lot of my members have been contacting me regarding what can they do to protect themselves.”
Scott says the union has surveyed members on an improved safety shield that would further separate drivers from the public. “A lot of the concerns our members are voicing are that, it’s better than what we have, but not good enough.”
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The union is also eagerly awaiting the implementation of the city’s Community Safety team which began six weeks of training on Jan. 15.
Once on the job, the team will focus on the transit system and de-escalation. Deputy Mayor Marcus Chambers says the team will work closely with police.
“The transit security teams that are being deployed later on this month and into March will have that role in terms of keeping peace on the buses,” said Chambers.
The city hopes the changes can lead to more positive views on public transit and better safety for its passengers and staff.
“We need to attract ridership back to the service. We need to make the service safer so that those that are working here don’t feel they have to leave to find something safer.”
This is not the first time the safety of transit has been brought into question after events.
The Amalgamated Transit Union recorded 91 assaults on transit between January and October last year. 2022 saw the most assaults on record at 104.
— with files from Global’s Iris Dyck
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