PRESS RELEASE - April 11, 2024

Fare evasion on Winnipeg Transit

Winnipeg, Manitoba - April 11, 2024 - The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505 acknowledges the ongoing challenges posed by fare evasion within the Winnipeg Transit system. As representatives of the hardworking individuals who operate and maintain our city's public transportation, we are deeply concerned about the impact of fare evasion on both our members and the community at large.

Recent estimates indicate that between January 1 and October 31, 2022, Winnipeg Transit incurred a significant loss of revenue, ranging between an estimated $5.3 million to $6.7 million, due to fare evasion. This trend persisted into 2023, with approximately 4,400,000 instances of underpayment recorded, though precise monetary figures for the loss of revenue in 2023 remain unavailable at this time.

“Fare evasion not only results in financial losses, which can negatively impact the level of service provided, but also contributes to a heightened risk of violent encounters.” Stated Chris Scott, President Business Agent for ATU Local 1505. “Our members have been subject to incidents where fare disputes quickly escalate into aggressive behavior, posing a threat to the safety and well-being of both transit operators and passengers.”

The current fare evasion policy implemented by Winnipeg Transit includes a one-time verbal warning for fare evaders. While this approach aims to balance enforcement with de-escalation, it often proves insufficient in preventing confrontations. Even a single warning can escalate into aggression, endangering the safety of all individuals involved. In 2024, approximately 60% of safety incidents involving operators, the aggressor also did not pay bus fare, whereas in 2023, this figure was 75%. It's important to note that these statistics only pertain to incidents involving operators, and there are additional incidents involving violence against passengers.

ATU Local 1505 expectations are high for the Transit Community Safety Team, as they play a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of transit buses and passengers. Enforcing respectful workplaces on transit buses is paramount, as it fosters an environment of mutual respect among drivers and passengers, ultimately enhancing the overall transit experience. Additionally, with the potential future task of addressing fare evasion issues, the team's diligence and professionalism are crucial in maintaining the integrity of fare collection systems while also promoting equitable access to public transportation for all members of the community.

Avoiding paying fares and the increasing incidents of violence on Winnipeg transit deeply affect both staff and passengers, causing significant psychological distress. It's crucial to consider the mental health consequences when addressing these challenges. We are optimistic that both the Winnipeg Transit and the Transit Community Safety team will continue to tackle the rising problems on Winnipeg Public transit.

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