A teenager is recovering at home after a vicious assault at a Winnipeg Transit stop. She was transferring from one bus to another when she was approached and attacked by three people.
Around 10 pm last Thursday, 18-year-old Carissa Chaput was beaten and robbed by three people after getting off a bus in south Winnipeg.
“They were saying, ‘Do you want to get shot?’ And I said ‘no’ and I thought they were joking, so I just scoffed it off,” said Chaput.
She said two of the people, both females, attacked her. She tried to defend herself, but she was overwhelmed.
“They were stomping on my neck, punching me, pulling my hair. I have bald spots on my head from them pulling out my hair. They bit me.”
This is just the latest in a series of incidents affecting transit passengers and drivers alike.
“It’s reaching epidemic proportions,” said Chris Scott, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505.
So far this month, ATU said there have been eight reports of assaults against transit workers.
“Starting back in ’99, assaults were the exception, not the rule. And they’ve become such a common occurrence now, it’s disheartening.”
The union wants a multi-tiered security force put in place as soon as possible, one that could be a combination of inspectors, security officers with the right to detect people, and a division of the police force.
It’s an idea that Coun. Janice Lukes, the chair of the Transit Advisory Committee, supports.
“It’s a huge priority…we have to somehow bring to an end these horrific incidents that are happening on the bus,” said Lukes.
Despite wanting the change, she warns it will take time to secure lasting funding and hire peace officers, should this plan be approved.
In the meantime, Chaput said she will be finding another way to get around the city.
“I don’t feel comfortable taking buses right now,” said Chaput.
In a statement to CTV News Winnipeg, the city says Winnipeg Transit is committed to safety for all users and employees.
It added the Transit Advisory Committee provides guidance for all potential new safety initiatives and it’s premature to discuss potential outcomes.