Transit violence on Winnipeg buses has seen a steady increase annually
On August 3, 2022, Don Woodstock spoke about his proposal to make public transit safer in Winnipeg and his action plan if elected Mayor. Woodstock starts his speech by addressing the amount of violence and attacks that have been happening on public transit and its effects. Woodstock says that in the past four years, with the increase in violence, many drivers and workers have quit or taken early retirement.
The people who work on transport and those who use it are afraid of attacks that make people hesitant to use the transit. Woodstock mentions how the problem needs to be addressed before more and more workers quit or fewer and fewer people use public transportation. The lack of workers could cause people to start driving more which would have other adverse effects on traffic and carbon emissions.
Woodstock describes this inflected fear as an attack on the people’s freedom. He said, “an assault on our public transit is an assault on our freedom to move around.”
Don Woodstock proposed a two-step plan of action. The first part is ‘operation safe ride.’ Operation safe ride includes reducing the number of transit supervisors and having them return to driving. The decrease in the number of supervisors would allow for the salary of at least 13 plain-clothed first-year police officers.
The big push with this plan is that the supervisors cannot step in when an attack or trouble is happening, while a police offer can and make arrests. In addition, Woodstock pointed out the higher wages that the supervisors make compared to the officers who can step in to stop the violence.
In operation safe ride, the first-year police offers will ride the routes with the most trouble and are allowed to make arrests and take the passage off the bus. The bus will be able to continue on its way after the officers take action.
The second and final step in Woodstock’s plan is assessing the possibility of reducing or eliminating transit costs in the next six years. Woodstock says there is a real possibility of this taking shape as the transit department has received $500+ million from the federal government.
Woodstock advocates for the money to be used for the people and highlight’s how Councilor Scott Gillingham proposes an increase of supervisors instead.
Don Woodstock finishes his speech with a declaration to keep the innocent, hardworking people of Winnipeg safe on their travels and that they must act before it is too late.
There are currently 13 registered candidates running to be the city’s next Mayor. Winnipeg voters head to the polling station on October 26, 2022.