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Winnipeg Transit union pushing for new safety protocols immediately

Winnipeg bus drivers close down Portage and Main after gathering to support each other at a rally for Irvine Fraser, who was killed by a passenger, and to demand safety improvements on buses outside city hall in Winnipeg, Friday, February 17, 2017.
Winnipeg bus drivers close down Portage and Main after gathering to support each other at a rally for Irvine Fraser, who was killed by a passenger, and to demand safety improvements on buses outside city hall in Winnipeg, Friday, February 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG — The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Winnipeg is asking the city to push forward new safety protocols for bus drivers, before a comprehensive report on current safety measures is finished.

John Callahan said waiting for the report to finish in up to 90 days is too long, and drivers are getting frustrated with the delay.

“I am hearing from members that they’re checking their time, seeing if they’re eligible for retirement if possible, others are getting their resumes ready to move on,” Callahan said.

In the last five days, Callahan said there have been five incidents related to safety reported on city buses. He said drivers are using their own discretion to solve the problems, and putting themselves in danger.

RELATED: Winnipeg Transit passenger pulls axe during altercation Friday

“It should be an absolute concise protocol,” Callahan said. “It has to be followed to a tee. There’s no room for error, there’s no room for discretion.”

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Callahan said the protocols need to be put in place as soon as possible. He said he’s afraid the current process will take too long.

“My concern is you get a report back, and then what. How long is it going to take dissect that?”

RELATED: Incidents on Winnipeg Transit buses adding up since driver’s death last month: Union

Mayor Brian Bowman said the city wants to find a solution to the problem sooner rather than later. He said waiting on the results of the report is the only thing to do as of right now.

“I’ve met with transit operators, I’ve heard first hand from them the concerns that may of them have. We want to do everything we can as quickly as possible to address their concerns, but we do need to have the information in front of us,” Bowman said.

Mayor Brian Bowman said the city is taking transit safety measures ‘very seriously’. Global News File

In the meantime, Bowman deferred to Winnipeg’s police chief on how safe the transit system is currently.

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“I know Danny Smyth has indicated riding the bus in Winnipeg is safe. So I’ll defer to our chief of police on that one.”

Callahan said he will be meeting with Councillor Marty Morantz in the next day, to go over the next steps in the process.

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