A rogue passenger riding Winnipeg Transit punched a city bus driver in the face while passengers on different buses made death threats against drivers Friday night.
"'I'm going to kill you' and the other one was a throat-slashing motion," said John Callahan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 15 Saturday afternoon.
Callahan said the rogue passenger, who was part of a group of four fare-evaders, punched the driver as he got off the bus while others cursed at him Friday night.
The incident is just one of many attacks against Winnipeg Transit drivers that have recently occurred on city buses. Callahan said 20 have been reported in 2017 alone.
Callahan said attacks against city drivers aren't new but have been in the spotlight since the February slaying of driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, who died after being stabbed at his last stop of the night at the University of Manitoba on Feb. 14.
"Bus operators have been cue balled, they've been punched, they've been slapped, they've had had beer bottles thrown in their face," Callahan said.
The transit union wants the City of Winnipeg to provide more training to bus operators and transit inspectors who patrol the city, but he said so far transit management has been unco-operative.
"They were just making excuses," Callahan said of a Friday meeting with officials.
'Something's got to change'
A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said Winnipeg Transit is currently working on a complete review of transit safety, but didn't comment on the meeting with the transit union.
All Winnipeg Transit buses are equipped with digital surveillance cameras and GPS-based automatic vehicle location technology, she said.
Safety on public transit was top of mind for about 50 people who showed up at forum put on by the Council of Women of Winnipeg Saturday.
"Something's got to change," said Kelly-Anne Stevenson, the council's president.
Stevenson said the council started planning the forum to address safety on public transit and in cabs long before the recent public attention surrounding transit on city buses started.
"If he's not safe then I'm not safe," she said speaking of a bus driver.
The council plans to compile the feedback they receive Saturday into a resolution they'll send to the city and province.