This is a very unusual, incident that happened in the life of Winnipeg Transit, it is very important to disclose this info based on the fact that there are a lot of people outside that abuse ?the system and on top of that, they get away with everything specially when it comes to fares. ?Please read it carefully because I believe it’s a strong message to be delivered to all the citizens and Winnipeg Transit riders.753 – Forgery Conviction
What the bus driver saw
By: Tom Oleson Posted: 07/30/2011 1:00 AM
This August long weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Free Press’s relocation from the grungy glory of downtown Winnipeg to the wretched wasteland of the Inkster Industrial Park. It was kind of like hauling the Old Lady of Carleton Street out of her comfortable downtown domesticity and plunking her down in the desolation of a Libyan oil town.
Why this happened, no one really knows. There were reasons for it that were bandied about at the time, but 20 years later none of them makes any sense. So here we are and here, one supposes, we are going to stay, unless we can elect a government stupid enough to buy this building, which is as good a reason to vote NDP as I can think of.
Just two or three years prior to the Free Press follies, my family moved from the comfortable confines of St. Boniface to the wretched wasteland of south St. Vital’s equivalent of a Sudanese oil town. Twenty-three years ago, south St. Vital was just about as desolate a section of the city as you could find.
It looked pretty much like Transcona South (it’s better now — there are actual trees — but it’s hard not to be better than Transcona) and it is also just about as far away from the Inkster Industrial Park as you can get unless you are going to Stonewall or Gimli.
Well, poor Tom, you might be thinking already, but you don’t know the half of it yet.
About the same time that I was dragged out of St. Boniface by my aspiringly suburban wife, my driving privileges were, shall we say, revoked by an unsympathetic and uncompromising provincial government.
Ever since, I have been taking the bus from south St. Vital to Inkster Park and back again, every day, both ways, five days a week.
If you are one of those world-wrecking, gas-guzzling gangsters who drive past me at the bus stop every day — twice a day actually — sitting in solitary splendour in your selfish sedan and never offering me or anybody else a ride, you can’t even imagine what it’s like to spend one-and-one-half hours, twice a day, five days a week, riding a bus from one end of the city to the other. And you don’t deserve to know what it’s like, polluters as you are.
Because it really is actually great. The city I see from the bus is obviously the same city as you see from your solitary seat in the isolation of your car, but I share my view of the town with maybe 30 other people on the bus every day, looking out the window and around me as the city passes by, while you spend your time looking up the rear end of the car in front of you. The city looks entirely different and a lot more interesting when it is seen from a bus. You can see it changing on a daily, a weekly, a monthly, a yearly basis. Even the face of the people changes.
The other day I was waiting at the bus stop in South St. Vital, heading towards the northern wilderness and wondering whether the bus would be crowded and if I’d get a seat or if I’d have to stand, when I started counting the people who were waiting with me. There were seven altogether, not counting me, which is not a good sign for a bus rider, seat-wise, but what suddenly struck me was the fact that six of these seven people were black and one was Asian. I was the only white person there.
Later in that same week, I was riding on the Mountain bus, and I realized that I was the only white person on the bus — everybody else was aboriginal, black or Oriental. It is a glimpse of a changing city, an insight into a new and changing population that you will never get from a car. It is Winnipeg metamorphosing as we watch, Winnipeg in real time, Winnipeg winding its way through a wonderful motion that sees buildings rising and falling and the complexion of the city changing on almost a daily basis.
They say that in the future — the not too distant future as populations migrate — the colour of all humanity will be tan; Winnipeg is the kind of city that might see that first. That’s not a comforting prospect for Coppertone and other such companies that sell tans for a living, but for people who are genetically predisposed to pink, as I am, it’s kind of a nice thought.
Bus drivers perhaps have the best view of this city, this Winnipeg as it can only be seen from a bus, this city of changing colours and complexities.
What bus drivers see, however, from the vantage point over the years of street cars, trolley bus and diesels, which most of us don’t, is not just the different landscapes and complexions of the city; they see, every day, the way that people’s behaviour changes, how manners, good and bad, how attitudes, good and bad, evolve, for better or for worse.
John Ryan has been driving a bus since he was 19 years old, which was almost 30 years ago. These days he drives the 88 Mountain/Fife bus, a friendly little feeder route that scoots around Inkster Park and the north end of city. It’s a useful route but not a particularly busy one. Ryan knows most of his regular customers by name and he can and will, if pressed, tell you a story about each and every one of them, except, of course, about me.
During his career, Ryan has driven different routes, not all of them as driver-friendly as the 88, and he has seen the city change on a shift-by-shift basis. He has watched the renovation of Main Street, as the city planners like to call it, and deterioration of Portage Avenue that was a consequence of that. The denizens of the Main Street hotels that the city shut down had to go somewhere, and Portage Avenue and its surrounding hotels beckoned.
But it’s not just neighbourhoods that change. In fact, it is not really neighbourhoods that change so much as the people who live in them.
Ryan “inherited” his route — bus drivers get to pick their runs by seniority — from Pat Ahoff, who retired this year after 30 years of driving. When Ahoff began driving in 1981, he says, there was a certain respect for the uniform of a bus driver, a common regard for the fact that there was a public service being done here. Now, he says, the general attitude is that Transit Tom is just “an asshole driving the bus.”
It’s not the demographics of Winnipeg’s population that have led to a decline in civility — this has always been a city that has been a centre of welcome and warmth towards immigrants since its very beginning — but rather that “changing generations have led to a change of attitudes.”
Young people used to get up and give their seats to old ladies — even old men — but usually they don’t anymore. People used to expect to pay the fare when they got on the bus, but they frequently don’t anymore. Ahoff says that it is a common joke among bus drivers that only suckers buy bus passes because so many people now get on the bus and expect to ride for free — and do.
The excuses for not paying are many and varied, but perhaps the best one was the guy who rode free for a week, and, like Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons, said I will gladly pay you Friday for a bus ride today. Friday, he said, was payday, but when it came along, he still couldn’t pay. “I had to buy a case of beer and flowers for my wife,” he explained. So what’s a poor bus driver to do?
The city doesn’t change just by generations, however. It changes by the hour. Driving a bus at noon is a lot different than driving a bus at midnight.
“The city changes after 6 p.m.,” says Ahoff and it doesn’t change for better. Main Street is better now that six hotels have been shut down.
Back in the day, passengers would pour out of the beverage rooms at closing time and board the buses, many of them without money but carrying cases of beer. Beer, in fact, became a kind of currency. A bottle of beer bought a bus ride and drivers would sometimes end up at the end of the week with 30 or 40 bottles, depending on when the government cheques — pensions, disability, welfare, unemployment — came out.
You can still tell when the cheques come out by the number of people on the bus.
But if Main Street is better, Portage Avenue is worse, as any veteran bus rider can tell you. You could see the change, Ahoff says: “Light went to dark” as the city’s focus shifted, and it is darkest on a Sunday night in winter when there is not a single person on the street that you really want to meet.
That, too, may change, as Winnipeg wanders into the future. Winnipeg Transit will change as well. We are talking a lot about rapid transit that will speed university students from downtown to wherever, but a lot of people who actually use the bus think that money might be better spent on more buses on more routes with more frequent timetables. Most of us aren’t in that much of a hurry anyway.
What most Winnipeggers aren’t in a hurry to do is take the bus. Cars are too convenient, even if they are often lonely and isolated places. Cars keep you from being part of the city.
Bus rides, on the other hand, are social occasions. They can be pleasant or they can be miserable, just like life, but whichever they are, the bus is a place where you can see other people, even talk to them, a place where you can watch Winnipeg as it changes on a daily basis.
An hour or two every day of doing nothing is an opportunity that is not to be sneered at.
You don’t have to honk your horn, you don’t have to give the finger to other motorists or mutter obscenities under your breath — although the bus gives you plenty of opportunities for that.
All you have to do is sit back and watch the world as it goes by. There’s a lot to be said for that.
Fleet: 535 buses
Daily ridership: 110,000+
Operator: City of Winnipeg The Winnipeg Street Railway operated a horse car operation from 1882 to 1894. It was rendered obsolete and acquired by the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway (1892, later Winnipeg Electric Railway and Winnipeg Electric Co.), which ran electric streetcars, regular buses from 1918, and electric trolley buses from 1938. The system was purchased by the City of Winnipeg in 1953 and was renamed the Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission. The Commission oversaw the end of streetcar services in 1955 and trolleybus services in 1970. The Commission was merged into the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg from 1961 until 1972 when the amalgamated City of Winnipeg absorbed both entities under the current name of Winnipeg Transit. Winnipeg Transit has a staff of 1,366, of which 950 are bus operators.
There are about 6,000 bus stops across Greater Winnipeg, 800 bus shelters and 1,500 transit benches.
To facilitate use of the system, Winnipeg Transit’s website provides a service called Navigo, which allows users to specify a starting location and destination (either by address, Winnipeg landmark, or intersection) and the desired time of arrival or departure (specified as “before” or “after”). It then produces all the available bus routes that meet the criteria, estimating how much time is spent walking to bus stops and waiting for buses, as well as how many transfers are required to arrive at the destination.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2011 J1
We’ve launched a new and improved Union?website?-www.atu.org.? The new site contains all the news and information on developments at the ATU which members have relied on for years, as well as exciting new multi-media features in an attractive, user-friendly format.?
In short, this website is about you – the ATU member. We hope you will enjoy it, tell your co-workers about it, and come back to visit again and again.?Check it out at:??www.atu.org
Edmonton bus driver Tom Bregg, who was viciously beaten a year and a half ago, is now fighting the WorkersCompensation Board for benefits.
Bregg was savagely attacked by Gary Mattson, a passenger who punched and stomped on him in north Edmonton Dec. 3, 2009.
Mattson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault last year.
The attack left Bregg partially blind and brain injured.
Bregg was supposed to begin a new job this week. Edmonton Transit planned to slowly reintegrate Bregg back into the workplace by having him shadow dispatchers for three hours a day.
But Bregg rejected the offer which threatens the bulk of Bregg’s WCB benefits, said Pamela Kirkwood, the city’s director of labour relations.
“We were told if he didn’t return to work they would suspend his benefits,” she said.
Bregg decided he wasn’t capable of working or even job shadowing for any length of time in his current mental state, said Stu Litwinowich on behalf of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
WCB must now review Bregg’s case, said Litwinowich, but he is hopeful it will be worked out.
“We’ll work hard again together to try and find another position for Tom.”
CBC News Canada
An OC Transpo bus driver has been awarded for heroism by the City of Ottawa, after saving four people from a west-end house fire last spring. Larry Langevin was driving his bus route last April when he noticed the blaze on Cavan Street, near Kirkwood and Merivale. He stopped the bus, ran to the homes next door to the burning property and began alerting neighbours to evacuate. He then helped four people escape the house fire. Langevin also sheltered the displaced residents on his bus and administered first aid to a woman who had injured herself after leaping from a second-storey window to escape. The bus driver tried to return to the home to rescue a fifth occupant, but was forced back by the extreme heat. That occupant was killed in the fire. The city has recognized other OC Transpo bus drivers in the past for acts of heroism.
From CBC New Canada
An Edmonton man who viciously attacked a city bus driver read a letter at the conclusion of his dangerous offender hearing admitting responsibility and blaming alcohol.
Gary Edwin Mattson pleaded guilty in May 2010 to aggravated assault for attacking Tom Bregg on his bus during the morning rush hour on Dec. 3, 2009.
Gary Mattson is shown here on a bus security video moments before he attacked Tom Bregg on Dec. 3, 2009. Edmonton TransitThe Crown is now seeking to have Mattson declared a dangerous offender and kept in prison indefinitely.
In the letter Mattson read Monday, he takes full responsibility for beating Bregg and stomping on his face 15 times. The attack put Bregg in intensive care for two weeks and left him blind in one eye.
Mattson called himself “a terrible drinker” and said “I underestimated the alcohol in me” at the time of the attack.
Crown prosecutor Patricia Innes said despite the comments, Mattson should be declared a dangerous offender.
Tom Bregg spoke to reporters in Ottawa last March when Edmonton Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber introduced legislation to increase sentences for people convicted of assaulting transit operators. CBCShe said Mattson needs a “stable lifestyle imposed on him.”
The attack, which put Bregg in intensive care for two weeks and left him blind in one eye, was caught on the bus security camera.
Mattson’s dangerous offender hearing started in December and has continued intermittently over the past seven months.
Courtesy of CBC