Canada’s Largest Transit Union Calls for a National Operator Safety and Pedestrian Protection Act in the wake of Brutal Assault on a Bus Driver in Hamilton

HAMILTON, JULY 10, 2019 -- ATU Canada President John Di Nino is calling for reform after a vicious assault on a GO Transit bus operator in Hamilton.

“As he has done for the past 30 years, an ATU operator working for GO Transit pulled up to a bus stop, except this time a passenger unleashed a barrage of punches and kicks on him resulting in hospitalization. Twenty-two other passengers had to witness this traumatic assault,” said Di Nino.

The victim is a 74-year old operator with many decades on the job. The incident occurred in broad daylight with many witnesses in a busy, urban centre in Hamilton. The man arrested stayed at the scene and was taunting the operator after the assault. A suspect was taken into custody.

“The only salvation is in serious preventative measures on a national scale. All levels of government must come together and pass a Canadian version of the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Safety Act in order to identify and assess the risk of violence on each and every transit system in Canada and approve concrete measures to mitigate violence,” said Di Nino.

Di Nino is referencing a bill in the United States that calls for assault mitigation infrastructure, de-escalation training, modification to bus specs to address blind spot and ergonomic issues, and a national database to track assaults on operators and pedestrians. This bill is a bi-partisan effort that is making its way through Congress with the help of the international union.

“Sadly, violence against passengers and operators is so commonplace. In the last four years we have seen a fatal stabbing in Winnipeg against an operator; a fatal stabbing in Tampa, Florida; a stabbing in Edmonton against an operator; and over 4000 sexual assaults against passengers. It’s a national crisis that Ottawa should be addressing through a national transit strategy with dedicated operational funding and a national database of operator and pedestrian assaults. Politicians go to work and expect to leave their office alive at the end of the day, transit professionals do not have that luxury. Ottawa must take action now.”

Di Nino is also drawing attention to the linkage between fare disputes and violence against operators. In many cases, arguments over fares escalate into violent altercations. The Canadian ATU President thinks we will see more cases like this as provincial governments implement operating budget austerity in public transit.

“Only 24-hours ago the Ford government and Metrolinx announced cuts to discounted GO Transit fares. We believe that cutting operating funding creates the conditions for operator and pedestrian violence. We think the Ford government should think about reversing the funding cuts,” added Di Nino.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Canada is Canada’s Largest Transit Union with over 34,000 members in vehicle operations and maintenance.


Media Contact:

John Di Nino

ATU Canada President

Cell: 416-938-0746

Image credit: Brian Thompson / Postmedia Network / Files