Winnipeg bus dispute video sparks safety concerns
Footage of 2 intoxicated men harassing woman was posted on YouTube
A Winnipeg Transit rider is calling for tougher security on buses, after he captured recent video footage of two intoxicated men harassing other passengers.
Tristan Johnston was travelling on the No. 18 bus along Graham Avenue in the afternoon of June 28 when he saw two drunk men verbally harassing a young woman.
He recorded the incident, in which the men refused to get off the bus despite being ordered to do so by the driver. The pair did eventually leave.
Johnston praised the bus driver for having the courage to confront the pair, but added that more has to be done to ensure drivers, as well as passengers, are safe.
"They have a job to do. They're faced with this kind of stuff every single day, and it's a shame that there was no support immediately for him," Johnston told CBC News Friday.
"He was the first to step up and say, 'Get off the bus.' That could have easily turned into a punch to him or worse."
Police were called to the bus, but officers did not show up until after the incident ended, Johnston said.
"First they were uttering threats, they were intoxicated in public, there was sexual harassment. Like, you know, the cops never showed up," Johnston said.
"Yeah, people were tense, people were getting off the bus, and waiting for other buses and stepping back."
Johnston's 8½-minute video has had about 6,800 hits on YouTube since he posted it on June 28.
Protocol for drivers
A city spokesperson told CBC News that when incidents occur on transit buses, the protocol is for drivers to report the incident to the control centre and ask for a transit inspector and/or Winnipeg police to come to the scene.
All transit inspectors are special constables that have the authority to issue bans, non-moving violations and fines under the transitway bylaw, the spokesperson said.
The city noted that all transit buses have digital surveillance cameras and GPS-based vehicle location technology installed.
Meanwhile, councillors are reviewing a report that recommends more protection for transit drivers, which would include stationing special constables on troublesome routes.
"The city needs to improve security. We've got to to do something to make people feel safer on the buses," said St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes, who has been calling for stepped-up safety measures on buses in recent months.
"I've seen that tape and that was an ugly, tension-filled incident."
Winnipeg Transit helps about 20 per cent of Winnipeggers commute each day, but right now, there are currently few protections in place for riders and drivers.
"They deserve to have a safe system and feel secure when they're riding a bus," Mayes said. "We can't make it 100 per cent fool-proof, but we can do a lot better."
The report calls for six special constables to ride troublesome routes, and it recommends the officers have the power to hand out tickets and ban riders.
The report's recommendations are expected to be discussed in the 2014 budget process.