1 person stabbed on bus in Saskatoon

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 said one person was stabbed on a Saskatoon bus Wednesday evening on Broadway Avenue. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 said one person was stabbed on a Saskatoon bus Wednesday evening on Broadway Avenue. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)

Saskatoon's bus drivers' union is once again speaking up about violence on the city's transit system.

It comes in the wake of a stabbing on a bus in Saskatoon. Police said it happened Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. CST.

An 18-year-old man was stabbed at 12th Street East and Broadway Avenue. He was taken to hospital and is "believed to be in stable condition."

The suspect fled the scene before police arrived and the serious assault unit is investigating.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), an argument got physical and led to one person being stabbed and taken to the hospital. The perpetuator fled the scene, it said.

"These occurrences are happening more and more and this is an example of what we're seeing, said Darcy Pederson, president of ATU Local 615.

"Last week we saw an assault on a passenger and we also saw an assault on an operator," he said.

Pederson said there have been 143 assaults on Saskatoon transit buses so far this year, more than the total for all of last year.

"Last week we had a bus operator get assaulted for answering a question. Someone reached around the barrier and punched him in the face because the passenger didn't like the the answer."

Saskatoon Transit disputed the union's figure, saying the "143" number includes all negative interactions, including intoxication, verbal altercations and acts of aggression. A Saskatoon Transit news release said physical assault makes up around six per cent of negative interactions.

Transit said that supervisors have been riding on routes that have more negative interactions. Last month, more than 100 ride-alongs were performed.

As well, Saskatoon Transit plans to begin a program this summer with Community Support Officers riding on buses in an attempt to deal with the situation. The program is expected to begin July 1.

The news release also said supports were being provided to staff affected by the stabbing.

Meanwhile, Pederson said he wants people to understand that the transit system has a zero-tolerance policy against violence.

"We just need them to stand behind that and stand behind our work, our members, and provide a safe working and riding environment for our operators and the riding public," he said.

CBC Saskatoon has previously reported on the union's claims of increasing violence and calls for safety policies on buses.

"They're getting kicked, punched, spat on, threatened and bear-sprayed," Pederson told CBC's Saskatoon Morning host Candice Lipski in April. "We've seen, in recent months, knives and guns on the buses as well."

LISTEN | The union representing Saskatoon Transit workers says the city is failing to respond to escalating violence: 

Pederson said the attacks have been random and are becoming more violent — not only against transit operators but also against the riding public.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said in an interview last month that he believes violent incidents on buses are linked to the city's toxic drug crisis.

"Saskatoon in many ways is a place that more and more people from across the province end up coming to because we have more services," he said. "It is overwhelming our systems."

Clark said the city needs more supportive housing to help people with complex needs.