WINNIPEG — A 29-year-old man has been arrested and charged with assault after he spat on a Winnipeg bus driver, which was caught on camera.
The altercation happened Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. near Polo Park Shopping Mall.
A man got onto the bus and started arguing with the driver about the fare, police said.
Jeri Stern was on the bus when the dispute broke out.
“The passenger was quite agitated,” Stern said.
That’s when Stern pulled out his cellphone and started recording.
“I didn’t realize it was going to escalate to that point,” he said. “But I felt it was the right thing to do, to properly show what happened.”
The passenger then spit on the bus driver and took off. The driver chased after him and the two men got into a fist fight. Stern said everyone on the bus was in shock watching. There was even a toddler at the front of the bus who witnessed the fight, he said.
That’s when Stern decided to stop recording and called the police.
The suspect was arrested and charged with assault. He remains in custody.
The transit driver is not facing any charges, police said.
John Callahan, the President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the driver is filing a report Friday and Winnipeg Transit is doing an internal investigation of the incident.
“This is an all too familiar theme of fare dispute,” Callahan said.
Last year, fare disputes made up two thirds of the 60 confirmed assault cases on transit drivers, Callahan said. Spitting is one of the worst offences and the most common against transit drivers, he said.
Callahan also said 4 p.m. is the most common time for assaults to occur.
“I have some friends who are bus divers for Winnipeg transit,” Stern said.
“So absolutely I can empathize on the amount of abuse and stress these individuals face on a near daily basis.”
The transit union is in the process of trying to take fare collection out of drivers’ hands.