Winnipeg buses could get security patrols

Winnipeg's transit union says Route 16 Selkirk- Osborne sees the most assaults on drivers.

WINNIPEG — Riding the bus in Winnipeg could soon be safer.

An administrative report recommends the city create a new transit bylaw and hire special transit constables.

If approved by city council, the bylaw would allow tickets to be issued to people who don’t pay the fare, loiter, vandalize or interfere with transit operations. It could go so far as banning people from riding the bus.

The report also recommends increasing security on buses by hiring six foot patrols to monitor the transit system. They would be given special constable status so they could enforce the bylaw.

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“It’s a step up, but it’s not going all the way,” said Jim Girden, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Winnipeg.

The union said since 2000, there have been 336 reported assaults on bus drivers. Girden said not every attack is brought forward.

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“In the last couple of days we had three assaults and a couple of weeks ago we had five,” he said.

The route with the highest reported number of assaults on bus drivers was Route 16 Selkirk-Osborne. There have been 50 incidents on that route since 2000.

There have been 48 reported assaults on drivers along Route 11 Portage-Kildonan and 34 on Route 15 Sargent-Mountain. There have been only one reported assault on Route 26 Logan-Berry, 46 Transcona Express, 67 Charleswood Express, 68 Crescent and Route 75 Crosstown East. Route 90 Kildonan Place-Whellems Lane had not one reported assault on a driver.

The report pegs the cost of the new special constables at $531,600 a year. The province would need to fund half of that.

“You don’t get safety and security cheap,” Girden said. “It doesn’t come with a free price tag, but all it takes is one serious accident, or one serious incident or worse, and then everybody sits up and wonders what are we going to do about this.”

The city report will be presented at a public works committee meeting Tuesday morning.

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