On this week’s edition of Rank and File Radio – Prairies Edition, host Emily Leedham speaks with Aleem Chaudhary, President of the ATU Local 1505 representing Winnipeg Transit workers, and Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg, and Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba.
Winnipeg Transit’s problems of worker safety, stress leave, provincial funding cuts, rising fares, and threatened route closures have made are all important in the conversations you’re about to hear. For more, including links, read on.
It is a rough time to be a transit driver in Winnipeg. In February 2017, a transit driver was stabbed and killed after waking a sleeping rider. Last week, a bus was briefly hijacked by a man spraying bear mace. The Workers Compensation Board release numbers that showed a dramatic increase in drivers on stress leave to cope with the day-to-day harassment and violence they experience on the job.
This all comes in addition to the struggles Winnipeg transit has had delivering reliable service.
The PC government led by Brian Pallister cut the 50/50 funding agreement, which had been in place since the 70s, where the province and municipalities split funding for transit.
The federal government recently announced 530 million dollars in infrastructure funding, but that funding does not go towards actual service – increasing the number of routes and their frequency. According to a comprehensive study released by McGill university, service is the number one factor to increase ridership.
The city threatened to cut 22 routes last year citing low ridership but, after sustained organizing led by Functional Transit Winnipeg and other groups, agreed to keep them running. They did however, increase the fare by 25 cents.