Next stop: a better transit system?


Winnipeg transit advocates are hoping an event series could spark a movement calling for improved bus service in the City of Winnipeg.

Advocates who are worried transit is “very rarely talked about in Winnipeg” have a plan to change that this year; it involves “humanizing transit” for riders, city councillors, and soon, a new transit director.

Joseph Kornelsen, who chairs the citizen group Functional Transit Winnipeg, said outside of safety concerns and rapid bus lines, decision-makers and Winnipeggers alike seldom look critically at the city’s existing transit service.

He explained how that lack of widespread criticism and the notion that “we’re a car town because that’s what Winnipeg was built for,” has siphoned momentum off support for a better public transportation system.

The result has been, by Kornelsen’s assessment, an underfunded, infrequent service that doesn’t serve people as well as it could on many of its often circuitous routes.

“So what we’re trying to do is reframe the conversation so we’re talking about how the service actually works,” Kornelsen said. “We want to bring to the forefront what it means to have a good service, show people what an effective transit service looks like.

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I am looking forward to seeing everyone next week in London for our annual conference.

Paul Thorp
ATU Canada, President

Winnipeggers say city needs transit police: survey

Ever since the fatal assault of a transit operator in early 2017, the local transit union has been calling for more dedicated transit police.

The union representing transit drivers has learned Winnipeggers share its desire for more dedicated police riding city buses.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local President John Callahan said it’s telling that a “broad range” of residents surveyed for Probe Research between March 13 and 28 support the union’s call for increased enforcement.

“It seems to be that people using transit as well as people who are not using it hear what’s going on and understand the issue,” Callahan said, referencing the “almost daily occurrence” of operator assaults, which were brought into the public eye after one such assault in February had fatal consequences.

Of the 600 adults polled, Callahan said the fact 64 per cent agree a dedicated transit police force is needed means the union’s call for such protection isn’t just anecdotal, and wouldn’t just be welcomed by drivers who fear for their safety.
“We wanted these real numbers,” he said. “They speak for themselves.”

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Random drug testing could lead to discrimination

A recent decision that paves the way for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to begin randomly testing its workers for drug and alcohol use later this month is problematic on multiple levels, and could lead to discrimination against employees, Toronto labour, employment, and human rights lawyer Christopher Achkar tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

As the article notes, in Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission 2017 ONSC 2078, Ontario Superior Court Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco dismissed an application from the transit workers’ union for an injunction against an amendment to its “Fitness for Duty Policy” during arbitration.

The policy implements drug and alcohol testing of employees in safety-sensitive, management and executive positions, says The Lawyer’s Daily.

According to the ruling, this testing will deter people prone to using drugs or alcohol around their hours of work, which will increase public safety, the article reports.

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Peterborough Transit driver lost pay after refusing overtime shift driving city bus with pro-life ads on it


A Peterborough Transit driver was sent home without pay because she refused to drive a bus with the controversial pro-life ads, says her union – a claim that one city director has refuted.

A grievance was filed by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1320 and obtained by The Examiner. It calls for compensation for the driver who was sent home.

The grievance says the driver – a woman – was assigned to work overtime on April 4, the first day that pro-life ads appeared on the exterior of two buses.

“Her assigned bus featured anti-abortion ads which she found offensive, discriminated against her and poisoned her workplace,” states the grievance.

It also says the driver feared she would face “vexatious” comments from the public.

“She was removed from her assignment and sent home without pay,” the grievance states.

One city official says that’s inaccurate.

Wayne Jackson, the city’s public works director, spoke about the issue because transportation manager Kevin Jones was unavailable for comment.

Jackson said the driver had accepted an overtime shift, but then balked when she was expected to drive the bus with the controversial ad.

She declined the overtime, Jackson said, and another driver took the shift in her place.

“No one was sent home – she chose not to do the overtime work,” he said. “Now she’s decided she should get paid (for work not done).”

But Tyler Burns, the president of the union, doesn’t see it that way.

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Court upholds TTC’s random drug-testing policy


A judge has upheld the TTC’s plan to randomly test its employees for drug and alcohol use, ruling that the need to protect public safety outweighs the risk of infringing on transit employees’ privacy.

In a 23-page ruling released Monday, Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court Frank Marrocco dismissed an application from the TTC workers’ union for an injunction against the policy, which was to have gone into effect Mar. 1.

The TTC said it now plans to begin random testing later this month.

In a statement the secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents more than 10,000 TTC workers, said employees were “disappointed” with the court’s decision. Kevin Morton alleged the policy “violates basic human rights” and is “an abuse of employer power against the hardworking women and men who safely move this city.”

However, in his ruling Justice Marrocco agreed with TTC management “that there is a demonstrated workplace drug and alcohol problem at the TTC, which is currently hard to detect and verify.”

He found that random testing would increase the chance that an employee who is prone to abusing drugs or alcohol at work would either be detected or deterred, which, in turn, would increase public safety .

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$19.4 million to be invested in Guelph Transit infrastructure


March 31, 2017, Guelph, Ontario – The governments of Canada and Ontario are making investments to create jobs and grow the middle class while building a foundation for a strong, sustainable economic future. Investing in public infrastructure supports efficient and affordable transit services that help Canadians safely get to and from work, school and other activities on time.

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Federal government invests $9.7 million into Guelph’s transit system


The federal government is investing about $9.7 million in Guelph’s transit infrastructure and related projects.

The funding, announced by local MP Lloyd Longfield at the Guelph Transit garage on Watson Road, is Ottawa’s share of a total of $19.4 million to be spent on five projects in the city. Across the province, federal funding for 312 transit projects was announced on Friday.

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