Transit Policy Draws Cheers and Jeers

Winnipeggers wait for the bus
Photo Credit: Mike Sherby

Higher bus fares aren’t the only changes that came into effect for transit riders in the New Year. Along with a twenty five cent fee hike to $2.25, passengers will now hear every stop on their route announced by the bus driver.

The new program is being implemented by Winnipeg Transit in order to make taking the bus more accessible. The policy came into effect over concerns that visually impaired passengers could miss their bus stops.

The new rule follows a legal battle in Ontario. On July 6th, 2007 The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that all bus and streetcar operators in Toronto would be required to announce all of the stops in order to accommodate more people.

The decision by the City of Winnipeg to implement this policy has drawn large amounts of praise and criticism. Human rights advocates claim that it’s a step right in the right direction, but some bus drivers are saying that it’s distracting them from the jobs, and that it could prove dangerous.

The new policy has created quite a stir on a facebook page created by Winnipeg Transit drivers. Some drivers believe the policy is dangerous because they’ll have to be constantly looking down at their stop schedules to see the names of upcoming stops, as well as having to use a microphone while operating a vehicle.

Some on the site believe that management isn’t listening to the workers complaints. One driver posted a remark saying “drivers need to stand together on this issue or else we will fail…having a safe work environment and coming home to my wife and kids every day is my first priority. Don't let the old boys club upstairs scare you. I for one will not call out stops.”

Transit passengers are divided on the policy. Kevin Vandenberghe, a third year engineering student at the University of Manitoba, rides the bus to and from school everyday. He says “it would be pretty damn annoying if I’m trying to sleep…I guess it’s a good service, but they should only do it if people need it.”

Janet Friesen thinks that having the driver announce the stops could benefit everyone. Friesen, who rides to work every day, says that it doesn’t bother her to hear the stops called. “I’ve been on buses where I haven’t been sure when to get off. I think this will help.”


Karla Burr of Spacecadet Design » Jan 3rd 2008, 09:51


I wonder what the cost would be to have a pre-recorded system, similar to the ones that exist in major centers like Tokyo or London. Safety is important, but so is accessibility and one should not be compromised for the other.

The trick is paying for it. If fares went up, or it was paid for with public money, Winnipeggers would be lose it. As we hate paying for things more than we hate to have our bus-naps interrupted.

Chris Clarke of Spacecadet Design » Jan 4th 2008, 09:34


I think that it is a good idea, although I think that it should be automated. The system works very well in Toronto. You can go 'half-asleep' as a passenger and feel like you won't miss your stop.

Several bus drivers already call out streets, which I think is a good thing. How distracting is it to call out street names on a route that you drive most every day? I can understand if it is a route you do not know, by a driver that is not a regular, but after 2-3 runs knowing the streets is pretty easy. But automated is a much better way to go. Maybe I have a better memory, though.

I think that Transit should be doing everything possible to make life better for passengers. It will be one of the key areas to encourage people to use transit on a regular basis, and thus ensure the drivers have jobs.

Shannon Dewey of Spacecadet Design » Jan 4th 2008, 10:42


I don't commute by bus - so it doesn't seem fair for me to comment - however, I couldn't imagine anything more annoying than a bus driver screaming out street stops every 30 seconds. Soft, automated voices with speakers on the bus would be ideal. As far as who pays for it, it seems the bus fare already goes up every year anyways, no? As well, I'm not a bus driver, but I would imagine that concentrating on streets/maps/microphones/managing people, etc could potentially be very dangerous for bus drivers. Aren't there several studies (and...uh, proof) that more and more people are getting into collisions because of being distracted by their cell phones, etc while driving? I can't see this being any different for bus drivers, whether they do the same route everyday and know the streets by heart or not. It's still a distraction for them. I'm also not sight-impaired, so I can't imagine how frustrating this issue would be if I was having trouble taking the bus for this very reason. And I would imagine there are many of these people who take the bus daily. But wouldn't a sight-impaired person have been sitting at the front anyways, and wouldn't they mention to the driver "I'm sight-impaired, could you please call out the stops for me?" And wouldn't a transit driver comply? I'm assuming, but don't know. Hm, tough one. We need safer streets and happy transit employees. But we also need people to take the bus and do everything we can to make commuters feel comfortable. Particularly those with disabilities.

Ross McDowall of Visual Lizard » Jan 4th 2008, 11:56


It has come to light that the eventual implementation of GPS and an automated announcement system is in the works. All praise the technology. One of the reasons I take the bus is that it is usually quite quiet. People are listening to their MP3 players or reading for the most part. I would agree with Shannon that the distractions make driving more dangerous, especially for someone driving a 5 ton bus with 60 to 80 people on it. That is distracting enough as it is. The city should concentrate on safety and service on the buses over shelter and stop beautification.

Not to say making our bus stops cleaner is a bad thing, but I think beauty in transit should take a back seat to good service. I have heard recently that in some places that assaulting a bus driver now has the equivalent penalty to assaulting a police officer. I would hope that people who use the transit system remember that these drivers are taking you to where you want to go. Please show them some respect, their job is very stressful and shouting or attacking them will not get you to your destination more quickly. Anyone who has driven in rush hour traffic can tell you that it can be a very stressful experience. Image what it must be like for a person who does it for a living.

Karen Yuskin » Jul 27th 2008, 09:14

no image

I don't think the bus operators should be calling out the street names. The City of Winnipeg should do their job and get the automated system that should have been in place already.

The City of Winnipeg has slacked off and is relying on their bus operators to do what the equipment they have hiding should be doing.

Bus operators already have enough to deal with.

Our lousy street conditions, solid pedistal seats, buses that no one else would even think of buying, management that would rather kick you in the butt for doing your job. Catering to passengers that are having a bad day and blame the bus operators. And so much more.

Leave the bus operators to do the job they are really out there for, to get you to your destination in one piece and on time.

If you need a stop called out tell the driver, they are more then willing to help.

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Mike Sherby

  • 36 years old
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • User since Sep 18th 2007, 09:24