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Nearly half of Winnipeg Transit staff eligible for retirement in five years: report

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Daily rider Dennis Williams says he would never want the job of driving the bus.

"They're harassed, if they don’t let a person on for what ever reason you get cussed at, you get spit at.” said Williams.

He says some of the drivers on his regular routes aren't there anymore.

"I had a friend who did it for two weeks, he had to quit because he was stressed out." said Williams.

Winnipeg Transit is facing a driver shortage. A new report says transit has lost 100 bus operators to retirements, resignations and terminations so far in 2023.

That number could rise because of an aging workforce.

"I was shocked, I was honestly I was shocked." said Public Works Committee Chair Janice Lukes.

Numbers show that of the 1,374 staff represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, 388 or 28.2 per cent are now eligible to retire, and 608 or 44.3 per cent are eligible in five years.

"With all the other challenges we're having getting bus drivers when I saw the retirement numbers yah my eyes popped,” Lukes said.

Even ATU president Chris Scott was caught off guard by the statistics as he says overtime is already relied on to deal with current shortages.

"To see 44 per cent of the workforce eligible in five years is astounding and will put more pressure." said Scott.

The city report says transit is actively hiring, doing blitzes and shortening the training process from nine months to nine weeks. On the retention side, larger security shields are being looked at, and a transit security force is on the way.

On top of this, Lukes hopes a new collective agreement will be passed soon.

"It's going to be appealing for more people to come on board, be part of the transit team," she said. "So I'm optimistic there are a lot of positive things happening."

The report also says that 118 new bus drivers have been hired so far this year.

Williams hopes there are enough drivers down the road.

“We need them, as a pedestrian with no driver's license, we need to get from point a to b," he said.

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