New emergency signal system on buses to increase safety, says Winnipeg Transit
Exterior bus signs will read “Emergency call 911” and “Do not board bus"
The City of Winnipeg hopes the installation of new signage on its buses will lead to more enhanced safety for operators and passengers.
Winnipeg Transit's new emergency signals will be fully operational on all buses by Dec. 15 and will allow operators to alert the public and the Transit Control Centre that emergency responders are needed.
The installation of this system is part of the city's ongoing commitment to operator and passenger safety, and it follows the recent endorsement of the standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works.
Exterior bus signs will read "Emergency call 911" and "Do not board bus" when operators enable the signal.
"This investment represents the latest in a series of transit safety initiatives assisted by collaboration with the transit advisory committee, continuing to demonstrate our commitment to a safe, pleasant and effective public transportation system," Coun. Matt Allard, chairperson of the standing policy committee on infrastructure, renewal and public works, said in a news release.
Transit passengers, those intending to board buses and other members of the public are asked to call 911 and stay off the bus if they see this message.
Bus operators are trained to use the signal in an event where emergency responders are needed. They will still have access to a phone to dial 911 in the case of an emergency.
Winnipeg Transit director Greg Ewankiw said the signs will be downloaded to city buses in three phases beginning tonight.
The emergency signal system was developed in consultation with the transit advisory committee and includes representation from the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers, the Winnipeg Police Service and Functional Transit Winnipeg.
The committee includes a bus operator representative and representation from Winnipeg Transit management.
Winnipeg Transit invested $9,100 on technology development and installation for the emergency signal system.
Ewankiw said it's important to review every possible security strategy that could be adopted.
"Transit is always in the notion that we continue to look at security measures or strategies because we want to reduce assaults, we want to reduce incidents on the buses and every possible strategy should be reviewed to improve safety on transit," he said.
The emergency signal system is one of the many safety initiatives undertaken by Winnipeg Transit over the past five years.
There has also been an expansion of the audio/video surveillance system on board buses — which has led to an increase in the successful identification of assailants — the installation of bus operation safety shields on the entire fleet and training focused on de-escalation and how to recognize and address residents under the influence of drugs.