PRESS RELEASE - March 18, 2024

ATU Local 1505 Reflects on Initial Weeks of Transit Community Safety Officers in Winnipeg

Winnipeg, Manitoba – March 18, 2024 – ATU Local 1505 Transit Union would like to offer some insights into the newly implemented Transit Community Safety Team, shedding light on its early impact and operational dynamics.

According to social media, there is a growing acknowledgment from both riders and the public about the presence of the new transit community safety officers, indicating initial positive reception. However, despite this recognition, the full impact of the safety team remains to be seen, with uncertainties surrounding its effectiveness.

“One notable concern” remarked Chris Scott, President of ATU Local 1505 “is the lack of information provided to transit drivers on how to engage the new safety team.” The newly established Transit Community Safety team has been active in enhancing safety measures within the transit system, with visible presence on the streets of Winnipeg. However, despite their evident efforts, transit operators have expressed concerns regarding the lack of communication from the department regarding how they can access assistance from the safety officers. While the presence of the safety team is reassuring, clear channels of communication need to be established to ensure that transit operators feel supported and informed about accessing help when needed.

Despite this, we would like to note that the safety team operates independently of transit control and has its dispatch center within the current control center for transit. This partnership is seen as a positive step, ensuring the team's autonomy while collaborating with transit authorities.

While reports confirm the presence of the safety team on transit buses, drivers have expressed a desire for more consistent visibility. “Our members really want more of a visible presence on Winnipeg Transit buses, even if the safety team members are riding the bus from one patrol area to another, we want to see them on Winnipeg Transit buses. This would go a long way in easing some of the safety concerns of our transit operators.” stated Chris Scott, President of ATU Local 1505.

Nevertheless, the union remains optimistic about the effectiveness of the safety team, citing a slight decline in reported safety incidents compared to the previous year. For example, ATU Local 1505 would like to highlight a recent incident where the team swiftly intervened to remove an erratic individual from a bus, averting a potentially dangerous situation. This was the most recent incident where the safety team officer was almost bitten. The incident originated on a transit bus and a quick-thinking transit operator saw members of the transit community safety team on the street and flagged them over to help with the incident. This is clear example of the effectiveness of the safety team, as our transit operator and the riding public was able to avoid further confrontation with an erratic individual due to the team’s intervention.

ATU Local 1505 expresses appreciation for the diligent efforts and visible presence of the new safety team on Winnipeg streets, emphasizing the importance of their role in enhancing transit safety.

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