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Winnipeg Transit Union Calls for Rear-Boarding to Protect Operators

March 24, 2020 6:07 PM | News

Osborne Street BRT Station

Osborne Street BRT Station (WINNIPEGTRANSIT.COM)

The union representing Winnipeg Transit employees is calling on the city to immediately implement a rear-boarding policy to protect bus operators during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The Amalgamated Transit Union 1505 also wants Winnipeg Transit to suspend fare collection and install clear signage surrounding social distancing.

“We’ve brought this issue up multiple times over the last few weeks and we keep hearing that we’re going to get an answer on it,” said James Van Gerwen, ATU vice-president.

“Frankly, we’re sick of waiting for the city to be one of the last transit departments in the country to protect their front line workers. Transit’s director must take a proactive approach in protecting their front line operators.”

A handful of other Canadian cities have implemented rear-boarding policies, including the City of Brandon.

“We’re tired of watching other cities act while Winnipeg Transit is still considering their options,” said Van Gerwen. “The best time for Transit to act on this was last week. The second best time is right now.”

In response, the city said passengers will continue to board at the front of the bus, but Winnipeg Transit is only using buses in its fleet that have shields installed to protect bus operators.

Starting Wednesday, Winnipeg Transit will also begin running messaging to promote social distancing, such as electronic signage and stickers on bus shields.