Union seeks protections for bus drivers in the Downtown Eastside IG News

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The bus drivers’ union is raising safety concerns for its members, saying tenting Hastings Street in Vancouver is making work “very difficult”.

It’s been nearly four months since Vancouver’s fire chief ordered the removal of tents and other structures from a section of East Hastings Street, citing major safety concerns.

But many tents still remain, some right in front of the bus stop. The union says this is a problem.

“With things like this in the way, it makes our job very difficult,” said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111.

“Sometimes the drivers have to go a little forward or back (stop) and then they are verbally abused.”

In addition, Mann said that driving through the Downtown Eastside is dangerous because the road is very congested and people often walk in front of buses.

“Going through that zone of dread, you’re always thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next?'” he said.

Mann said the issues have only gotten worse since January, when 26 buses were damaged by someone with a BB gun.

In March, a driver was sprayed with beer by a passenger, and there have been a few documented incidents of passengers being assaulted.

Just last week, Mann said, a passenger “opened a beer can and poured it on the driver.”

Metro Vancouver Transit Police say the incident occurred on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. on a bus traveling on Nanaimo Street at East Hastings Street – an area that is not part of the Downtown Eastside – and they are investigating .

Because of these safety concerns, Mann said last month her union requested security guards be placed on buses traveling through the Downtown Eastside, saying they could board the bus on Granville Street downtown and East Hastings. Street around Gore Avenue, then make another trip. direction.

This is not likely to happen. TransLink said about 1,300 buses pass through the Downtown Eastside on an average weekday and that the number of operator strikes “has gone down this year compared to the same time last year.”

In a statement, a TransLink spokesperson said employee safety is a top priority, while adding that “transit security and transit police will respond to the incident to deploy security and police resources proportionately to keep our employees and customers safe.” uses data.”

government action

B.C.’s new Premier David Abbey said his government will take a “leadership role” in addressing the issues of the Downtown Eastside.

“This is not an acceptable situation in the City of Vancouver,” Abby said Friday, adding that his approach would work with partner agencies and other levels of government.

“We’re going to have to work in partnership to transform that neighborhood. It’s not going to happen overnight, but people will see the direction we’re going.”

Vancouver City Councilor Lisa Dominato said that although the city has not spoken directly to the bus drivers’ union, it is aware of several safety concerns at DTES.

“We’ve heard those concerns and share those concerns,” Dominato said. “It’s really important that we have provincial partnerships and national partnerships around these issues. They’re very complex. Working together.


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