BC Transit highlight CCTV upgrades after man arrested in bus driver assault

A North Saanich man has been arrested after assaulting a bus driver and fleeing on foot.

Police in Sidney arrested a man accused of assaulting a BC Transit driver on Jan. 29.

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP members responded to a serious assault on a bus driver in the area of Lochside Drive and Bakerview Place in North Saanich, just after 7 a.m.

The driver suffered facial injuries and it was reported the passenger suspected of assaulting him fled on foot with a duffle bag.

The suspect was identified and arrested on Tuesday evening. The North Saanich man was released on the condition that he not enter or travel on any BC Transit bus.

Unifor Local 333, a union that represents BC Transit workers, is concerned at attacks on their members and are calling for more security measures to be implemented.

“I’m extremely frustrated it’s happened yet again,” said Ben Williams, Unifor Local President. “The only thing that will prevent these assaults are barriers and I have no idea why BC Transit continues to drag its feet on this.”

READ MORE: Greater Victoria bus driver assaulted by male passenger

BC Transit say that they ‘place the highest priority on safety’ and have installed CCTV cameras in over 600 buses across B.C.

In all, 373 buses have cameras installed by the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). Another 230 buses are new buses to be delivered with the technology already installed. The remainder of the BC Transit fleet will have cameras installed in new buses as older models are replaced over the next few years.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support these vital safety improvements to BC Transit buses across the province,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, via a press release. “Having CCTV cameras on board will help reassure passengers that taking public transportation is a safe option no matter where you live.”

Since 2015, BC Transit has used CCTV footage to support 360 police investigations.

BC Transit say they have made significant investments in both training and tools for its transit safety system, including driver training, partnerships with first responders, enhanced communication technology on board the bus and a proof of concept for a full driver door.

Williams says that he supports the cameras but they are used to investigate offenders rather than prevent assaults.

“There are people with mental health and substance abuse problems and don’t care if a camera is there. People react poorly, without thinking and cameras aren’t preventative.”

Williams reports that in the last few weeks two drivers have been assaulted with a beverage being thrown on one and another spat on.

Police ask witnesses who observed this most recent assault, or can identify a suspect are requested to contact the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Detachment at 250-656-3931, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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