Saskatoon

Bus driver death highlights need for more safety: Saskatoon Transit union president

ATU Local 315 president Jim Yakubowski said transit workers across the country are suffering the effects of the stabbing death of a Winnipeg bus driver.

'It raises the awareness that we need to do something about it.'

Saskatoon Transit vehicles will pay tribute to the bus driver killed in Winnipeg, displaying ‘Lest We Forget’ on the buses Tuesday in his honour. (@ATULocal615/Twitter)

The president of the union representing Saskatoon Transit employees says the stabbing death of a bus driver in Winnipeg highlights the work that still needs to be done to keep operators safe.

"It raises the awareness that we need to do something about it," Jim Yakubowski told CBC Radio's The Current.

Irvine J. Fraser, 58, was attacked by a passenger at the University of Manitoba and died after being taken to hospital. A 22-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in the death.

Irvine Fraser, 58, died Feb. 14 after he was attacked on the University of Manitoba campus. (Facebook)

Yakubowski said transit workers across the country are now suffering the effects of Fraser's death.

In his own 16-year career, Yakubowski said he's been assaulted twice. He said he knows many operators in the city face verbal and sometimes physical assaults.

Yakubowski explained that drivers in Saskatoon are given conflict resolution training when they are hired, and additional training is likely on the way.

"In all honesty, I don't know if you can give enough training in conflict resolution because if you can prevent further escalation of these types of incidents, our operators need the tools to do that."

Yakubowski said he's glad that Saskatoon drivers have the support and encouragement not to get into altercations with passengers over bus fare.

"If they don't put it forth, don't press the issue," Yakubowski said of the directive.

Fraser's death has once again spurred conversations over what can be done to keep operators safe.

Yakubowski said he hopes to see the public involved, so people know what's expected of themselves as well as the drivers.

"We're just simply coming to work and doing our job."

Saskatoon Transit vehicles will pay tribute to Fraser on Tuesday, displaying 'Lest We Forget' on the buses in his honour.

Transit employees in Regina have recognized Fraser by wearing black ribbons.

With files from CBC Radio's The Current

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