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.”
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