Metro Vancouver bus drivers’ union calls for increased security amid violent incidents

The union for bus drivers in Metro Vancouver is calling for increased transit police and security presence at SkyTrain stations and bus loops across the region.

The calls come after a 17-year-old boy died after being stabbed on a Surrey bus Tuesday night — just the latest in a series of violent incidents in recent weeks.

Given this stabbing and other recent violent incidents on transit systems, Unifor 111 President Balbir Mann says he wants more police officers and security personnel stationed at major transit hubs.

“We are going to sit with the employer and discuss more safety measures and raise our concerns with the employer,” Mann told CityNews Wednesday.

Not only is the union concerned for riders, but also for its some 4,000 members across the Lower Mainland.

“I know they can’t be present everywhere in all the buses, but we need [that]. That’s what the discussions are that we’re going to have with the employer, so we can deploy more resources out there to make sure our members are safe out there,” he said.

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Mann says Coast Mountain Bus Company has “to get serious” about addressing safety.

“They need to prioritize because this is the second serious incident that has happened in the Surrey system,” he added.

One bus rider told CityNews that safety concerns are not just limited to Surrey — they go well beyond the city’s boundaries and are regional.

“I feel like Surrey gets a bad rap but honestly, I was more scared when I worked in like Burnaby because like I saw crazier people there. You know what I mean? It’s just kind of everywhere at this point,” she said.

Another transit user told us she definitely has a fear of using transit after dark, saying, “Whether it’s empty or it’s full, you don’t know what’s coming at you.”

“I work at a shelter in Surrey here and I feel comfortable with those people, but that’s because I’ve gotten to know them. So many people are very unpredictable and it’s actually not really that safe out here,” she told us.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has now been called into Surrey after Tuesday’s death. According to the Surrey RCMP, officers received reports of an “assault with a weapon” on board a Coast Mountain bus in the area of King George Boulevard and 100th Avenue just before 9:30 p.m.

This incident is not believed to have any links to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.

On April 1, there was a random slashing on a Surrey bus that led to terrorism-related charges. Last weekend, there were assaults reported on the Millennium Line in Burnaby, with an attempted slashing of an officer.

Then, just days ago, there was a stabbing at the Columbia SkyTrain Station in New Westminster that left one person with stomach injuries.

-With files from Mike Lloyd

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