Data Collected On Assaults :
Data collected by Winnipeg Transit shows 52 city bus drivers reported being assaulted while on the job last year.
The head of the union that represents Winnipeg Transit employees is renewing calls for more to be done to keep drivers safe after data from 2012 shows 52 operators were assaulted by passengers last year.
The numbers are down slightly from 2011—when 63 drivers reported being assaulted and city council ordered a report on how to improve safety—but Jim Girden, president of Local 1505 of the Amalgamated Transit Union told Metro Thursday there’s still a big problem.
“One is one too many… there shouldn’t be any assaults on bus operators,” he said.
The incidents commonly start over fares, said Girden, and the assaults range from verbal abuse to physical assaults—sometimes with impromptu weapons.
“It could be a pop bottle or a hot coffee,” said Girden, who also fears for the safety of riders. “Assaults on drivers are just a step away from assaults on passengers.”
Girden would like to see footage of abusive passengers caught by bus cameras circulated to the media and also thinks having a couple police officers dedicated Transit could help curb the bad behaviour.
While the report ordered last year looked at what Transit currently does to protect drivers, Girden is anxious to see the results of another study coming to council this fall looking at what other cities with similar issues have done.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), who sits on the committee waiting for the report and has been active on the issue, said he hopes to have the report back in time to include its recommendations in next year’s budget.