Saskatoon Transit sees third violent incident in under a week

By - Hayatullah Amanat CTV NEWS Web Journalist (May 30, 2024 - 6:29pm)

A 19-year-old Saskatoon man was arrested and charged following an altercation on a city bus Wednesday night.

At around 10:30 p.m., officers were called to a bus stop in the 1200 block of 8th Street East for reports of an altercation involving three men, the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said in a release.

According to police, a man allegedly made inappropriate comments towards underage girls on the bus when he was confronted by two other men.

The suspects fled the scene following a physical altercation. Officers later located one of the men, who they believed to be intoxicated.

A short distance away attempting to gain entry onto a separate, uninvolved, stationary city bus. During his arrest, the man spit in the face of a constable,” police said.

As a result, the 19-year-old Saskatoon man has been charged with assaulting a police officer and failure to comply with court-imposed conditions.

The two other involved males were not located by police.

The incident comes in the wake of two violent incidents on Saskatoon Transit in less than a week.

On Thursday night, a 20-year-old man was stabbed on a city bus in the area of 20th Street West and Avenue N South.

On Monday a 55-year-old bus driver was assaulted outside his Access Transit bus by two male youths, according to police.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Saskatoon Transit said the driver was pushed into a wheelchair lift by the two youths before they fled. The driver was treated in hospital and sent home to recover.

Earlier in May another teen boy was stabbed on a city bus at the intersection of 12th street East and Broadway Avenue.

Following the incident, Saskatoon Transit Union acknowledged it has seen an increase in "negative interactions" on public transit.

The transit department said it has logged 124.5 negative interactions per one million rides so far this year, the statement said.

Of those interactions, 26 per cent were verbal altercations, nine per cent were acts of aggression, and six per cent were assaults.

In April, the transit union came forward with complaints of escalating violence on city buses.

According to the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615, in recent months, drivers have reported being punched, kicked, and spat on while serving the public.

Bus riders have come forward with similar complaints as well.

In February, a Saskatoon woman said she was assaulted and robbed while waiting for the bus on her way home from work.

A City of Saskatoon spokesperson told CTV News that Saskatoon Transit has put "a number of measures in place in response to increasing violence across the transit system."

These measures include increased strategic patrols by Commissionaires and transit supervisors at the downtown transit terminal, and expanded patrols at the Market Mall and Confederation Mall terminals, the city said.

Starting July 1, the Saskatoon Fire Department will assume control of the community support officer program, and the city says they will be deployed in targetted areas and transit routes that have seen more frequent incidents.

"These personnel will play an important role as a uniformed presence to de-escalate situations or to assist in accessing supports for someone who may be agitated or experiencing a crisis."