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Bus-singing ban urged

New bylaw touts 40 new offences

Don't sing, and keep your feet off the seats. Proposed new Transit rules are aimed at ensuring the safety of both drivers and passengers, Coun. Justin Swandel says.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Don't sing, and keep your feet off the seats. Proposed new Transit rules are aimed at ensuring the safety of both drivers and passengers, Coun. Justin Swandel says. Photo Store

People who like singing in public should be careful they don't do it while riding a Winnipeg Transit bus -- that could net them a $100 fine.

Singing on transit property is one of 40 offences listed in a proposed transit bylaw aimed at ensuring safe conditions for bus drivers and passengers.

"One of the ways to get more people on the transit system is to ensure it's clean and civilized," said Coun. Justin Swandel, chairman of the public works committee, which endorsed the new bylaw Friday.

Other offences not allowed on transit property include:

-- Staying more than 90 minutes in a bus shelter.

-- Drinking alcoholic beverages.

-- Putting feet on a bus seat.

-- Selling goods.

-- Causing a disturbance or interfering with the comfort/convenience of other passengers.

-- Riding a bus without paying.

-- Climbing out a bus window.

-- Spilling food or drink.

-- Refusing to leave.

-- Failing to wear appropriate clothing. (The bylaw does not stipulate what is appropriate.)

Council must approve the proposed bylaw.

Transit director Dave Wardrop said the new bylaw targets habitual offenders who pose a threat to operators and passengers. The bylaw was initiated after a bus driver was brutally beaten last year while driving.

"This bylaw... provides a mechanism for inspectors to address chronic, problematic issues," Wardrop told the committee.

The safety plan also includes assigning two Winnipeg police cadets to act as security for transit, beginning in September. However, that component still must be approved by the Winnipeg Police Board.

Adding two cadets to transit was applauded by the unions representing the bus drivers and police and the Winnipeg Labour Council.

Transit would compensate police for the cadets services. It's estimated that would cost $48,000 for the last quarter of the year and $85,000 for a full year.

The provisions of the proposed bylaw were supported by Coun. Brian Mayes, who advocated for improved safety measures for transit operators.

"It's not an unsafe system now, but this will enhance safety for the passengers and operators," Mayes (St. Vital) said.

Mayes said three transit operators were assaulted last weekend and the city needs to take steps to ensure their safety.

The bylaw would also make it an offence to attempt to ride a bus without paying a fare -- which is a concern of several groups who feared that would criminalize the poor.

However, Wardrop said bus drivers have always had the discretion to waive the fares for individuals in special circumstances, which will not change under the new bylaw.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2014 B1

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