Many riders still paying bus fare despite transit union's job action
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019 4:42PM CST
A rare opportunity for many in Winnipeg Tuesday, a free bus ride.
"I am neither enforcing nor advising on fares today," said one bus driver.
Without a contract since January, the transit union instructed drivers not to collect fares on Tuesday in order to make a point.
"I think it's good that they're standing up for their rights, they're doing something they believe in," said one bus rider.
Despite the possibility of a free ride, it appeared many were still paying.
"No I didn't, cause I wanted to see if he would actually stop me and he didn't so, but people in front of me were paying and people after I think I was the only one who didn't," said bus rider Miranda Alfred
City of Winnipeg chief corporate services officer Michael Jack says the city received similar feedback.
"A lot of riders recognize that their fares go to support the operation of the transit system so we're encouraged when we hear that,” he said.
While encouraged by the paying public, the city is not taking the job action by the union lightly. It calls this an illegal move and wants the labour board to weigh in on whether the tactic was above board.
“So we've applied to the Manitoba Labour Board seeking injunctive relief or an order or other relief for this action," said Mayor Brian Bowman
On top of that, Winnipeg's transit director sent a memo calling on the transit union to call off the job action, citing safety risks.
Greg Ewankiw wrote that he’s worried about conflict between drivers who continue to collect fares and riders who believe they don't have to pay creating "unruly passenger behavior and creating a safety concern for the bus operator and/or other passengers."
Jack reiterated that concern.
"The stunt ATU is pulling is causing an area of confusion,” he said.
The Amalgamated Transit Union is confident its actions are legal and accuses the city of fear mongering, calling into question the theory this could create conflicts on board.
“When you take the fare out of the equation how would you get fare, assaults caused by a fare, like it doesn't make any sense to me," said union president Aleem Chaudhary.