1 person stabbed on bus in Saskatoon

Union President says violence towards drivers, public on transit is growing

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. 

There have been 143 assaults on Saskatoon transit buses so far this year, Pederson said, and that number is higher than the total number of assaults on buses 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."

He 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 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."

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.