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Transit to take 3 months to tweak safety report

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Winnipeg Transit will take another three months to make tweaks to a report about improving safety for bus drivers.

Council’s public works committee voted Tuesday afternoon to hold off on approving a report that recommended changiong camera angles on buses to better capture incidents of assaults against bus drivers.

Currently, on-board surveillance cameras do not record the bus driver's compartment, which means some assaults may not be entirely caught on video. The report said expanding camera angles will produce more evidence to investigate assaults when they occur.

In April, council's public works committee asked city staff to develop a strategy to keep transit drivers and bus passengers safe in light of concerns the number of assaults against bus drivers is on the rise. City data show 63 assaults against bus drivers were reported last year, up from 56 in 2010. Those assaults include spitting and threats, Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said.

In response, Winnipeg Transit recommended changing the camera angles.

But the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, which represents most transit employees, expressed disappointment that more would not be done to make drivers safer.

The union recommended signage warning transit riders of the potential fines for assaulting bus drivers and also recommended expanding the role Winnipeg Transit inspectors, who currently don’t have the power to detain offenders.

Winnipeg Transit now has until October to explore whether that role could be expanded. Such a move may cost more than $400,000, in staff and vehicle costs, if it involves ensuring one additional inspector is working during all transit operating hours, Wardrop said.

 

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