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Some attacks on transit drivers: Assaults often sparked by fare spat

Some attacks on transit drivers in Canada

Winnipeg transit bus driver Irvine Fraser died in hospital early Tuesday morning after being seriously stabbed by a passenger at the last stop on a route to the University of Manitoba. Union leaders across the country have voiced concern for years about attacks on transit drivers. A common reason is a dispute over fares. 

Here are some attacks on bus drivers in the last 10 years: 

August 2016: A video posted online appears to show a Winnipeg driver fighting back after being spat upon over a fare dispute. The driver leaps from his seat, pursues a man outside and attempts to tackle him. The man, who is later charged with assault, attempts to grab the back of the driver’s head and knocks off his sunglasses. A union spokesman says there needs to be a different way to collect money from passengers.

August 2015: A bus driver in Delta, B.C., is hit in the face with bear spray by a man who boards without paying. The man runs off and threatens to spray a citizen who gives chase. A suspect is arrested 14 months later on the SkyTrain and found with drugs, an extendable baton, a butterfly knife and a set of brass knuckles. He is charged with various weapons offences.

February 2011: A bus driver in Burnaby, B.C., is sucker-punched by a passenger who is angry that he has been told not to board through the back door. Charles Dixon’s face is shattered and will require multiple surgeries to insert a plate and screws. He also suffers a concussion, nerve damage and cognitive problems. Del Louie later pleads guilty to assault. A provincial court judge cites Louie’s troubled childhood and aboriginal ancestry and spares him jail time. She sentences him to an 18-month conditional sentence in a rehab facility.

December 2009: Bus driver Tom Bregg is viciously beaten and stomped on during morning rush hour in Edmonton. A drunken man who did not want to pay the $2.50 fare hits the driver repeatedly, drags him off the bus and stomps on his face more than a dozen times. Bregg suffers brain injuries and loses an eye. Gary Mattson later pleads guilty to aggravated assault and is deemed a dangerous offender. In February 2015, federal legislation called Bregg’s Law is passed to allow more severe penalties for attacks on bus, taxi and limo drivers.

August 2008: A woman on Toronto public transit starts screaming at a female bus driver and attacks her with a hammer. The woman is believed to be angry because the driver did not pull over at her stop. The driver needs care in hospital for her injured and swollen hands. A 23-year-old woman faces six charges, including assault and assault with a weapon.

March 2006: A lone and drunken passenger realizes he has missed his stop and starts swearing and yelling at Winnipeg driver Murray Tarvis. The passenger becomes increasingly agitated as the bus returns downtown. The driver twice calls for security. The man charges Tarvis, pulls him out of his seat and punches him in the face, breaking his glasses. Rick Ganton later pleads guilty to assault and mischief and is sentenced to 26 months in prison.

The Canadian Press

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