Saskatoon Transit Union Calls for Action Amid Surge in Violence Against Workers and Riders

Saskatoon transit workers face escalating violence, with 31 incidents reported this year. Union calls for more enforcement and a national task force to address the crisis.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Saskatoon Transit Union Calls for Action Amid Surge in Violence Against Workers and Riders

Saskatoon Transit Union Calls for Action Amid Surge in Violence Against Workers and Riders

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615 and ATU Canada are sounding the alarm over escalating violence against Saskatoon transit workers and riders in 2024. In the past two weeks alone, there have been six reported incidents of violence against bus drivers, including assaults involving bear spray, punching, kicking, and spitting. Union president Darcy Pederson noted that areas like downtown and Confederation are hotspots for these incidents.

According to city statistics, there have been 31 reported incidents involving bus drivers so far this year, including acts of aggression, verbal altercations, intoxication, assault, and exposure to bodily fluids. The union has expressed concerns that the violence is not limited to drivers, with riders also being victimized. They cite recent homicides on transit as further evidence of the growing safety crisis.

Why this matters: The surge in violence on Saskatoon transit raises serious concerns about the safety of both workers and the public who rely on these services. Addressing this issue is critical to ensure a secure and reliable public transportation system for the city.

The city's two-year budget includes $482,000 for a targeted support program to address transit concerns, which will involve the presence of community support officers on routes where incidents occur most frequently. However, Pederson suggests the need for enforcement officers to assert the Criminal Code and Saskatoon Transit policy on physical and verbal abuse. The ATU has also called for a national task force to address the complex issues that transit operators are facing across Canada.

In response to the union's concerns, the city has acknowledged the problems and said it has introduced several initiatives in the last 12 months to improve safety for employees and the public in transit spaces. These include adjusting and increasing patrols of the Downtown Transit Terminal and extending patrols to other locations. However, Pederson believes more can be done, such as improving security at the terminal, installing better cameras, and having more enforcement officers.

Pederson emphasized the severity of the situation, stating, "Drivers have also seen knives and guns brought onto buses." The city maintains that negative interactions on transit are a Canada-wide issue and encourages Saskatoon Transit employees to report any safety concerns to their supervisors and the police. As the violence continues to escalate, the union is urging swift action to protect the safety of transit workers and riders in Saskatoon.

Key Takeaways

  • Escalating violence against Saskatoon transit workers and riders in 2024.
  • 31 reported incidents involving bus drivers this year, including assaults.
  • City allocated $482,000 for a support program, but union calls for more enforcement.
  • City has introduced initiatives to improve safety, but union believes more can be done.
  • Union urges swift action to protect the safety of transit workers and riders.