Saskatoon bus driver assaulted in 3rd transit-related assault in May

The Saskatoon Police Service is investigating an assault on a Saskatoon Transit bus driver, the third reported transit-related assault in May.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old man was hospitalized after being stabbed on a bus. In another incident last week, a 20-year-old man and 15-year-old girl were hospitalized with stab wounds after an altercation on a bus.

Then on Monday, Saskatoon police say they were called at about 3:30 pm about an assault outside an Access Transit bus on the 200 block of Fairmont Drive, which is near 22nd Street West and Circle Drive.

The 55-year-old man was sent to hospital and is now recovering at home, according to Saskatoon Transit.

The driver reported he was attacked by two male youth, who both fled the scene, police said in a news release.

Darcy Pederson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615, said the level and frequency of violence in Saskatoon is increasing.

He said that in the incident on Monday, the driver was returning to the bus after escorting a client to their residence when the assault began.

Pederson is calling for order on city buses, for rules to be enforced and for community support officers on transit to be given the authority and ability to manage alterations on buses.

“We need to get ahead of this,” he said.

Saskatoon Transit plans to expand a community support officer program to buses to help deal with the situation. That is expected to begin July 1.

Those officers are meant to play a role as a uniform presence and assist in accessing support for someone who is agitated or in crisis, according to an emailed statement from Saskatoon Transit director Mike Moellenbeck.

He also said Saskatoon Transit is providing its staff with post-incident support following the reported assault on Monday.

Moellenbeck said the driver was pushed into a wheelchair lift while outside the bus.

“Saskatoon Transit has put a number of measures in place in response to increasing violence across the transit system, including increased strategic patrols by commissioners and transit supervisors at the downtown transit terminal and the expansion of patrols at the Market Mall and Confederation Mall terminals,” he said.