The president of the union representing transit drivers in HRM is looking for extra safety after two drivers had been allegedly assaulted by a passenger Monday night time.
Ken Wilson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Native 508, stated a bus operator was on the Scotia Sq. terminal and had a passenger that turned aggressive. One other bus driver received on board to assist.
“The opposite operator received between him and her, and the passenger nonetheless managed to punch the defend, knocking the telephone out of her hand, and have become extraordinarily aggressive, yelling and screaming,” stated Wilson.
In a launch, Halifax Regional Police stated officers responded to the incident on the Halifax Transit bus round 9:45 p.m.
They stated the passenger left the bus on foot and was later noticed by a transit supervisor and arrested. The 51-year-old man will seem in Halifax Provincial Court docket at a later date to face one rely of assault.
It stated the driving force was not injured.
‘It must cease’
Wilson stated there have been seven bodily assaults in opposition to bus drivers within the final two months. He stated the pandemic has been tough on all people and a few passengers are taking their frustrations out on drivers.
“Lots of our riders are careworn, coping with psychological well being challenges, homelessness, the worth of meals and every little thing else, it takes little or no to set someone off right now,” he stated.
“And the front-line transit operators are coping with this each day. If it’s not bodily, it’s been verbal.”
Bus Driver Assault
These verbal assaults have been “by the roof,” he stated.
“Should you’re feminine you’re being referred to as derogatory names, in the event you’re a BIPOC member you’re being referred to as racialized names,” stated Wilson. “It’s simply disgusting and it must cease.”
Wilson stated drivers want extra than simply the skinny polycarbonate shields, which had been put in throughout COVID-19, to guard them.
Whereas assaults in opposition to drivers decreased within the early days of the pandemic as ridership dwindled, throughout the third wave he observed an uptick in assaults in opposition to drivers.
“Passengers had been ripping off shields to get to the driving force, as a result of they’re solely on a few hinges and a magnet that secures them,” stated Wilson, who himself was assaulted in a highway rage incident whereas on the job again in 2007.
“I do know what it’s prefer to be threatened, I do know what it’s prefer to be bodily confronted once you’re caught behind the wheel of a bus. You’re nearly pinned in there, you possibly can’t get out.”
He added that drivers are afraid of defending themselves after they’re assaulted as a result of they might get in bother with their employer.
“You’re a sitting duck,” he stated.
BC Transit putting in obstacles to guard drivers from assault
Wilson desires to see driver safety methods — a barrier to stop passengers from assaulting drivers — put in on all Halifax buses.
“It locks, it has a thick window, tempered glass that may shield the driving force,” he stated. “Proper now, the driving force principally has no safety.”
The union held an operator survey in 2018, the place 86 per cent of respondents stated they needed driver safety methods put in on all new buses.
Again in 2019, when town issued a request for proposals for a contractor to offer as much as 150 new transit buses, it included the choice of getting such a system to “forestall sudden intrusion into the bus operator’s space.”
Nonetheless, these methods had been optionally available and weren’t included within the last design of the buses.
Wilson stated he was informed throughout a labour administration assembly final month that it’s as a consequence of the price of the system, which may run about $10,000, relying on the bus it’s being put in in.
“For a metropolis employer to place value over security sends off all types of crimson flags and bells and alarms,” he stated.
Wilson famous that having safety cameras on buses is obligatory, and stated having the shields ought to be prioritized over cameras.
“The cameras are good for the employer to watch their gear, their property,” he stated. “However a digital camera’s solely going to document an operator getting assaulted. It’s not going to cease the assault.”
World Information has reached out to town for remark.
In the meantime, Wilson wish to see different security measures thought of as properly, equivalent to hiring law enforcement officials particularly for transit, to guard drivers from being assaulted on the job.
“I believe all people — each Canadian, each employee on this planet — deserves to have the ability to go to work and are available residence and never have the chance of being assaulted or, God forbid, lose your life,” he stated.
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