The union that represents bus drivers said the city is taking too long to improve service.
Aleem Chaudhary, president of ATU Local 1505, said the city shouldn’t have to wait for the results of a long-term strategic plan before it improves service.
"We know what the issues are, and transit has been told what the solutions are," Chaudhary said following his presentation Tuesday to the public works committee. "It’s like one plus one equals two: if we get more drivers and more buses, the service will improve."
Councillors on the committee were considering a request from the transit administration to combine two studies – a rapid transit master plan; and a transit strategic service plans – into one report.
Administration told the committee recommendations on rapid transit would depend on which recommendations council approves to transit’s overall service delivery, adding it made more sense to present a single, comprehensive report to council.
Both reports were due in 2019, but Transit is proposing a single report, due in January 2020.
Councillors decided to delay endorsing the proposal until its June 26 meeting, allowing the committee time to review terms of reference for an RFP for a consultant to assist in development of the documents.
Chaudhary told reporters Transit is the only civic department that doesn't have a hiring freeze, but drivers are continuously working overtime.
Transit employs about 900 drivers, Chaudhary said, adding one-third of them are eligible for full retirement and Transit should be hiring 100 to 150 drivers.
Chaudhary said he’s not pleased there’s been no move to add security to buses even though that was approved by council last fall.
Chaudhary said council approved $590,000 for Transit security in 2018, but he said there’s disagreement — between the union and politicians and the administration members on the transit advisory committee — about how that money should be spent.
The union favours creating a separate Transit police force or hiring Winnipeg police, Chaudhary said, adding the administration wants to use private security.
Chaudhary said the advisory committee's last two meetings were cancelled without explanation.
Coun. Matt Allard, chairman of the public works committee and who was appointed to the transit advisory committee Tuesday, said his priority is for the committee to resume meeting and deal with the security issue.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.