Death threats, assaults among latest concerns from Winnipeg Transit union

President of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Winnipeg said there have been 20 assaults on bus drivers reported in 2017 so far. Global News / File

WINNIPEG — The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Winnipeg said three bus drivers received death threats, and another was punched in the face while on the job Friday.

In front of a group of about 30 people, John Callahan brought up the latest concerns from the transit community at a public safety forum Saturday.

“It’s very clear here. People are scared, and that’s not a good thing,” Callahan said.

In 2017 alone, Callahan said there have been 20 assaults reported against bus drivers. He said in 2016, there 45 assaults reported in the entire year.

“What is it going to take to get things moving. We don’t need another serious incident.”

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

A comprehensive report looking into current safety measures on transit vehicles has been submitted to City Hall. It will take up to 90 days to hear anything back from the report.

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Callahan said waiting the 90 days is too long, and new safety protocols need to be introduced immediately.

“We’re not coming to the table without ideas, we have a lot of ideas to improve safety, but they are saying we need to wait for the report.”

RELATED: Winnipeg Transit union pushing for new safety protocols immediately

City Councillor Cindy Gilroy was on hand for the public safety forum. She said right now the city is making sure they look at all angles of the situation before making any decisions.

“We need to look at this comprehensively, we need a holistic approach, and sometimes those things do take time,” Gilroy said.

Some transit riders in attendance suggested bus drivers should carry bright flash lights at all time, to possibly blind someone posing a threat on board.

Gilroy said she will be taking all suggestions back to council.

“I think it’s important that we do a good job to figure things out, by talking to the people most affected by this.”

Callahan said he to will be taking the suggestions back to Winnipeg Transit management this week. He said if the delay continues, drivers will start walking off the job.

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“I’m losing patience, and so are my members.”

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