City monitoring buses for overcrowding
WINNIPEG -- The Amalgamated Transit Union 1505, is calling on the City of Winnipeg to reconsider Winnipeg Transit’s reduced schedule plan — as businesses begin to reopen in the province.
Effective Monday, Winnipeg Transit began operating on reduced schedule due to a drop in readership amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a move which resulted in the temporary layoff of 253 drivers
Now, as the province slowly reopens its economy, there are concerns busses are getting overcrowded.
“I was actually taking the bus from here to go to St. Vital and the bus was so packed that I just left, I waited for the next one, cuz I don’t want to get sick,” said Transit user Tammy Goldwaldt, who awaited the bus on Osborne Street Tuesday.
That concern, is being echoed by Adrien Sala, MLA for St, James, who took to twitter Monday to express his concerns.
“Public transit is incredibly important, it’s moving us around, it’s helping healthcare workers get to their jobs and we need to ensure they can do that safely,” said Sala.
“We’d like to see the province improve communication with the city identify what those safe numbers are and make sure Winnipeg transit has the funding it needs to get around safely.”
UNION CALLS FOR CHANGE
According to the City Of Winnipeg, riders are responsible for ensuring proper social distancing on transit — not the drivers.
The transit union says it has received at least 40 reports in the last two days of overcrowding on buses, in some cases with more than 40 people on a bus.
“I understand it doesn’t happen everywhere, but there are specific routes that need more buses,” said Romeo Ignacio, President or Local ATU 1505.
The union is calling on the city to reconsider it’s service reduction plan and recall some of the employees who were laid off.
“It doesn’t have to be all of them at the same time, we just need to be able to adjust to the increasing need for transit service,” said Ignacio. “This is not about our operators, this is about providing a safe transit service.”
The City of Winnipeg said it’s monitoring the situation with transit, and says it deployed extra buses Monday to alleviate overcrowding.
“A reduction in services was due to a reduced demand in riders of approximately 70 per cent, the service was reduced by about 30 percent so there is a buffer,” said Mayor Brian Bowman, during a press conference Tuesday.
“If we start to see overcrowding patterns develop efforts will be made to adjust the service to spread out the passenger loads,” added Jay Shaw, Assistant-Chief of Emergency Management for the City.
The City also said effective Monday, in order to help meet physical distancing guidelines, express buses will stop at all bus stops to help increase service
Meanwhile, riders like Gowaldt are hopeful to see changes sooner rather than later.
“Especially if stuff’’s going to be reopening, they can’t have minimal buses, this is a city that a lot of people depend on the bus,” she said.