Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Riding on the dark side

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Gordon Sinclair Jr.'s June 22 column, Peaceable people riding the midnight bus, is incredibly biased. I refer to it as biased because not only was this his first (and presumed only) midnight transit ride but he is also a large middle-aged man.

As a daily user of Winnipeg Transit, I have seen first-hand both ends of the late-night-transit spectrum -- from empty buses to those packed with intoxicated fellows.

Unfortunately, as a teenaged girl, I have experienced the dark, dangerous side of transit practically on a monthly basis since I started using transit daily five years ago. I mainly ride the 18 North Main and occasionally the 38 McPhillips.

I have been hit on, harassed and grabbed riding the bus even during the day. I have watched underage girls be approached by men as old as Sinclair and backed into a corner. I have seen girls followed off the bus by their harassers.

But what can I do? As much as I try to intervene when I can, it's not safe for me to step in all the time. It's at times like that when I wish there was someone I could rely on to help people, especially young women, out of these situations.

Transit security already exists for the purpose of removing unruly riders and slumbering drunks, but they aren't present until called by the driver. If there was a guard present on the bus I would feel much safer riding at night.

But until then all I can hope is for women to stand up for other women on the bus when it's safe. Don't stand by and watch someone being harassed. Stand up and say "Hey! Are these guys bothering you? Do I need to get the bus driver?"

Sinclair's column is based on a single night's uneventful ride. But I could write a book of horror stories about nights on Winnipeg Transit.

KIRA SELCH

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2013 A8

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