Report shows rise in 'negative interactions' involving Saskatoon bus drivers and passengers

A city report is shining a light on confrontations city bus drivers sometimes face while on the job.

It says over the last four years, there were 308 "negative interactions" reported involving bus drivers for Saskatoon Transit.

City administration reviewed data from 2017 through 2020. In 2017 and 2018, 51 negative interactions were reported each year. That number rose to 76 in 2019, and 130 in 2020.

The report says the rising number of negative interactions could be attributed to changes in the way incidents are reported.

“Saskatoon Transit Administration (STA) believes the changes to reporting, combined with reminders and instructions to Operations staff to report all incidents, have led to an increase in reported incidents beginning in 2020,” the report said.

Of the 308 interactions identified, the report says 28 involved assaults on an operator in the driving compartment and while nine were outside the driving compartment.

The report defined an assault as when physical contact is made with a bus driver, which includes spitting, hitting, touching, throwing objects or spraying substances.

Most incidents involved verbal altercations, followed by intoxication and fare disputes.

The report includes a map showing the interactions happened at various bus terminals around the city.

The information was requested by council as part of their approval for funding for a driver barrier phase-in program for fixed route busses. It’s included in the agenda for the next transportation committee meeting scheduled for Monday.