‘He was stabbed 13 times’: Union boss calls for more security after bus driver attacked, Edmonton Alberta

The president of the union representing bus drivers is calling for 24-hour security at transit centres after a bus driver was stabbed 13 times early Wednesday morning, the second attack in about one week.

And Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said “there’s more work to do” on security measures at transit and LRT stations.

The bus driver who was stabbed multiple times early Wednesday at the Mill Woods Transit Centre was released from hospital, the city said Wednesday night.

The 65-year-old driver was at the transit hub on Hewes Way in southeast Edmonton when the attack happened at around 3:40 a.m., police said.

Paramedics treated him at the scene before taking him to hospital suffering serious, but non-life threatening injuries. A 15-year-old boy is in police custody.

In a statement, a city spokesman said they had reached out to the driver to offer ongoing support.

‘Stabbed 13 times’

Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 which represents bus drivers, feels transit peace officers need to be present at transit centres overnight.

“I think the only solution is to have that presence at all those transit centres 24 hours … you have to have that presence, we have to make the buses a safe place not only for our operators but also for the public.”

“They want to increase ridership, that’s where you start.”

Tetterington said he had been told by the transit branch manager that the driver was stabbed around a dozen times by a youth who asked him for a ride downtown.

Tetterington said the youth approached the driver and asked if he could get a ride in that direction because the bus was out of service and returning to the garage.

The driver phoned control to let them know the youth was stranded and needed a ride. He was told a peace officer would be sent out to drive the youth downtown.

“He was stabbed 13 times,” he said. “By the grace of God, he’s still alive. I got an update on his condition from the branch manager, and he said that he’s going to be released amazingly in a couple hours. They’re all just stitches. They never hit any vital organs or veins or arteries, which was a miracle.”

Tetterington said the bus driver was able to escape to the terminal long enough to call police.

Tetterington said retractable driver shields are being installed on some buses as a pilot project. However, a shield doesn’t protect drivers while they’re in transit stations, he said.

‘Hits close to home’

Iveson reacted to the stabbing Wednesday saying it “hits close to home” for all Edmontonians, and that the city is taking concerns from the public about safety on the transit system “very, very seriously.”

“I continue to use transit because it’s an important part of my commute and I feel safe generally on the system,” said Iveson. “So that’s been my experience, but I do recognize and understand that some people do not feel safe and that for women, in particular, their transit safety concerns particularly in the evening and quieter times on the system.

“I’ve chatted with a couple of the councillors already, heard from the transit union and there’s clearly more work for us to do.”

Last week, a 19-year-old man was stabbed multiple times in the chest in an unprovoked attack on Sept. 18 at the South Campus LRT station platform.

Iveson said there are a lot of deterrents to crime on the city’s transit system, including security cameras, the presence of other people, operators and transit peace officers.

“With two high-profile incidents close together, questions have been raised about safety on the system,” said Iveson. “And that’s why we’ve added police and additional transit peace officers in recent years in order to try to have more patrols on the system, added more cameras as well. And those cameras at the end of the day will help hold accountable people who behave inappropriately on transit. So I’m hopeful that the cameras will be able to help with the investigation, whatever happened here.”

Bus drivers regularly face violence on the job

According to freedom of information data requested by Postmedia last year, which covered Jan. 1, 2014 to July 6, 2017, there was an average of one attack on a transit operator per week in Edmonton. Across Canada, there are 2,000 bus driver assaults every year according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, and more that go unreported.

Around one-third of the Edmonton incidents involved a driver who was punched or kicked. Cases where an operator was bitten or spit on made up another 30 per cent. Pushing or shoving incidents were the next largest category, followed by thrown objects — including coffee, liquor, garbage and, in one case, a “small block of cheese” chucked at an operator’s face by a man who was refused a free ride. Four instances were classified as sexual harassment.

Of the 193 attacks since 2014, 33 resulted in an arrest and six led to criminal charges. The No. 8 bus, which runs from Abbotsfield Mall to Mill Woods, was the most dangerous route, with 27 incidents.

ETS driver stabbed by 15-year-old suspected bus thief at Mill Woods Transit Centre

More U.S. Public Sector ATU locals in NON-RIGHT-TO-WORK STATES AT 100% MEMBERSHIP


It’s been a few months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s treacherous Janus decision and ATU public sector Locals in non-right-to-work states have been mobilizing to get 100% of their members signed up and recommitted as ATU members. We are happy to report more and more Locals have been successful. To date, Locals 192-Oakland, CA, 265-San Jose, CA, 285-Steubenville, OH, 726-Staten Island, NY, 752-Bloomington, IL, 824-New Brunswick, NJ, 842-Wilmington, DE, 880-Camden, NJ, 883-Everett, WA, 1027-Fresno, CA, 1070-Indianapolis, IN, 1241-Lancaster, PA, 1249-Springfield, IL, 1336-Bridgeport, CT, 1499-Muncie, IN, 1574-San Mateo, CA, and 1704-San Bernardino, CA have 100% of their members committed to ATU! Get involved, and get your Local 100% committed, too.

Despite national trend, public transit
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ATU has been saying for years, invest in public transit and riders will come. Look no further than Connecticut, which has seen a 5.4% increase in bus ridership while many other states have seen ridership plummet over the last few years. Why? The state put more money towards transit – expanding bus service including more routes for college students. Also a new commuter rail line was opened in June and ridership doubled on the line, which was formerly Amtrak-only service. The rail line operates like a bus line and a subway with more stops – and the trains are newer and nicer. Hopefully other states will follow Connecticut’s example and invest in more and better public transit. Read more.

Saint John Local: Facing our transit future

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Minneapolis Local crashes event
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A Koch brothers backed celebration of Janus vs. AFSCME, featuring the infamous Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs, got a surprise as ATU Local 1005-Minneapolis joined other unions in protesting outside the event. Chanting “Who are we? Union!” and “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” More than 100 union members converged on the Minneapolis Hilton where the event was being held. Local President Ryan Timlin addressed a raucous crowd with spirited remarks about the importance of collective action and how every right that workers enjoy today was fought for by union workers of the past. Read more.

Another day, another attack on a bus driver

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Happy Labor Day

This weekend we celebrate Labor/Labour Day in the United States and Canada with family and friends. ATU can be proud as our members are mobilizing from Birmingham, AL, to Saskatoon, SK, to Milwaukee, WI, to Halifax, NS and countless other communities. We have created a video to show our members working to demand more transit funding, to fight privatization efforts, to push for safer bus driver workstations and more. This Labor/Labour Day remember “We are a Proud Union Family”! Watch video.

Harrisburg transit workers rally for more,
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Another attack on a transit worker,
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It’s déjà vu in Winnipeg, as yet another transit worker was attacked. This time it was a Winnipeg Transit supervisor assaulted on a bus when a dispute over an insufficient fare escalated into an attack. A man and two male youths boarded the bus, but one didn’t have enough money to pay the fare. They became verbally aggressive and the supervisor asked them to leave the bus. Instead of leaving they punched the supervisor, violently dragged him off the bus and kicked and punched him. Police just happen to be nearby and intervened. The assailants were charged with assault. While the supervisor isn’t an ATU member, Local 1505 -Winnipeg, MB, President Aleem Chaudhary says more protection is needed for workers. Read more.