Unruly bus passengers are in for a tougher ride.
© Nathan Liewicki
A Moose Jaw Transit bus.
The Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) and Moose Jaw Transit are rolling out a new, joint strategy to address an escalating trend of vandalism, mischief and abuse by transit customers.
“On April 1, I went out and met with city transit. I met with the manager, some of the drivers and the safety officer out there and we discussed what has been going on,” said MJPS Sergeant Cliff Froehlich. “What we want to do is try to resolve some of the issues.”
The MJPS had been advised of a growing number of incidents by Moose Jaw Transit last month, after matters came to a head when a group of youths was alleged to have boarded a bus and smashed one of its windows.
That matter remains under investigation, Froehlich said, but is far from the only issue transit operators deal with.
Some are nuisances like passengers repeatedly ringing the bell or opening emergency windows, which force drivers to stop the bus and address the issue, he said.
Other issues involve vandalism, such as graffiti on bus walls and seats, or cutting or ripping into seat cushions.
Though many of the incidents have involved students, there are adults who cause issues as well.
Froehlich couldn’t pinpoint the precise reason for the upswing in incidences, but had a few ideas.
“Once it gets to be in the public’s eye or once it gets to be a joke in the eyes of students, people tend to build on it or dwell on it,” he said. “I think the people who are involved continue to build off of each other.”
To address the problem, Froehlich said, Moose Jaw Transit is “going to develop some policies about when (operators) draw the line … when the bus has to be stopped, or when drivers have to radio dispatch or call police.”
In addition, the transit authority will aim to provide a standardized level of training to operators so that they are properly prepared to deal with difficult people.
Meanwhile, the MJPS “is going to put out information” and “going to be a little more diligent in dealing with unruly passengers on the bus,” said Froehlich.
“This is a warning,” he said. “It’s a warning that if police are going to get involved and there’s enough information and evidence to write a ticket, people are going to get tickets.”
Further, he said, if the problems are serious enough, “people are going to get charged.”
“There will be no more warnings,” added Froehlich.