Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Music to a bus singer's ears

City bylaw will be amended to allow riders to continue to belt out a tune

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Dawn Beirnes, who regularly sings on buses, is relieved a proposed ban will be nixed. Amendments to the bylaw will make it OK to sing.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Dawn Beirnes, who regularly sings on buses, is relieved a proposed ban will be nixed. Amendments to the bylaw will make it OK to sing. Photo Store

Dawn Beirnes regularly takes the bus to and from the Misericordia Health Centre, and when she does, she almost always sings.

"It's usually just me and the bus driver, and then when people start coming on I'll continue singing, and then when it gets to be a lot of people, I'll finish the song and not sing anymore," she said.

She has a steady repertoire of songs, including a transit version of Sinatra's Strangers in the Night, which she calls Strangers on the Bus, but she adds new songs to her routine all the time.

A proposed bylaw would have threatened Beirnes' bus-singing career, as one part of the bylaw would have forbidden singing on Transit buses or property. But a city councillor has promised amendments that would ensure Beirnes' bus-singing talents can continue to be displayed.

The original bylaw was approved by city council's executive policy committee on Wednesday and is scheduled to be voted on by council next week.

The bylaw was created mostly to improve security on buses, said Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital). It would, among many things, make it a violation not to pay a fare. But other things, including spilling food or drink on transit property, using a unicycle on transit property and playing a musical instrument, singing or staging a live performance, would also be violations and could net a $100 fine.

Mayes promised amendments that would ensure singing is allowed, as long as it doesn't bother other people.

"I thought let's not take away this good thing we're doing... by including this controversial and ridiculed thing about singing. The bylaw was never about singing," Mayes said.

The proposed ban on singing caused an uproar among city residents, including Beirnes, who said she makes sure she's not bothering anybody when she performs.

"I don't sing very loud... I don't sing on the bus to disturb people, and if I ever saw someone who didn't want it or like it, (I would stop)," she said.

Rather than see the bylaw nixed, Mayes said he's willing to compromise on portions of it, in order to get the important aspects, such as the presence of police cadets, approved.

"It's 21/2 years of working on this... we've been in talks with three different unions, we've been talking with two departments, just to work out how this doesn't just go to a grievance and arbitration," he said.

The legal team that crafted the bylaw added singing, Mayes said.

He said he missed that detail because he was focused on the overall picture.

The city sent out a news release Thursday afternoon, confirming the bylaw would be revised in the ways Mayes promised.

"With some revised wording, we expect that the purpose of the proposed bylaw will be clearer that the intent is not to limit freedom of expression," Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said in the release.

"If a Transit user is singing in a manner that is not disturbing fellow passengers or the Transit operator, there is no issue," Wardrop said.

In 2007, popular rock duo the White Stripes had an impromptu concert on a Winnipeg Transit bus that was included in the film on them.

Mayes said similar events will still be allowed.

"If they get fined, I'll pay the fine," he said.

Beirnes said the new wording means she'll probably continue serenading transit drivers and riders on her trips.

"I just like entertaining people. I don't have a band, I don't have gigs, I don't have anybody filming me. So in my own mind, that's the way I can get myself out there, by singing and making people happy," she said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Aside from the Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round, what is the best song to sing on a bus? Join the conversation in the comments below. 

FINES

The proposed bylaw includes a number of offences, and the fines they would incur. Note the document says these fines do not include "court costs and fees."

  • Ride bus without tendering payment or without using valid transit fare product: $100
  • Use or attempt to use revoked, expired, forged, invalid or altered transit fare product: $100
  • Lend, give or sell a non-transferable transit fare product: $100
  • Use or attempt to use as his or her own a non-transferable transit fare product issued to someone else: $100
  • Use or attempt to use a transit fare product that is being used simultaneously by another person: $100
  • Litter on transit property: $100
  • Apply graffiti to transit property: $100
  • Spit, urinate or defecate on transit property: $100
  • Consume alcoholic beverage on transit property: $100
  • Inhale solvents on transit property: $100
  • Smoke or carry a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, e-cigarette or e- cigar: $100
  • Sell, or attempt to sell, any item, good or services on transit property: $100
  • Play a musical instrument, sing, offer or stage a live musical performance on transit property: $100
  • Bring a container of explosive, flammable or toxic material (except a cigarette lighter) on a transit property: $100
  • Carry firearm on transit property: $100
  • Cause a disturbance or interfere with comfort or convenience of a transit passenger: $100
  • Play electronic device on transit property: $100
  • Use or operate a bike, unicycle, roller skates, skateboard or motor vehicle on transit property: $100
  • Spill or permit to be spilt any food or drink on transit property: $100
  • Print, write, draw, paint, scratch or etch on transit property: $200
  • Advertise without permission on transit property: $100
  • Fail to wear appropriate clothing on transit property: $100
  • Interfere with boarding or disembarking from transit vehicle: $100
  • Cross safety line in transit vehicle: $100
  • Project part of body through a transit vehicle's window, closed door or door in process of closing: $100
  • Place feet upon a seat or seat-back cushion on a transit vehicle: $100
  • Bring an article aboard a transit vehicle which obstructs an aisle, prevents a seat from being used, or hinders the safety of other transit passengers: $100
  • Bring a bicycle aboard a transit vehicle, unless authorized by the Bus Operator: $100
  • Bring unsecured dog or unconfined animal aboard a transit vehicle: $100
  • Remaining in a Transit Shelter longer than 90 minutes: $100
  • Enter a transit garage or loop except to board transit vehicle: $100
  • Enter transitway without permission: $100
  • Travel on transitway without permission: $100
  • Allow one's vehicle to travel on transitway without permission: $100
  • Cross barrier or fence to transitway: $100
  • Be within 2 meters of unprotected area of transitway: $100
  • Fail to obey a rules made by Director: $100
  • Failure to provide identification information in any statement to enforcement officer: $100
  • Refusal to leave transit property: $100

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2014 B1

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