Although I am sure some people do take issue with the idea of being surveilled, I personally do not oppose the installation of cameras on buses (they began installing cameras on buses years ago). I do, however, take real issue with the governments' claim that this will somehow improve transit service within Winnipeg.
Transit has been my primary means of transportation for the seven and a half years that I have lived in Winnipeg, and I have travelled the city extensively on various different routes. I have seen unruly and rambunctious people creating problems while riding on the bus. In these situations, it was not the presence of a camera, but the actions of a fellow bus-rider or bus-driver that resolved the issue. Therefore, I question Vic Toews' assumption that the presence of cameras will “deter potential criminal activity.”, although that footage may be a useful source of evidence for the criminal justice system after the fact. They began adding cameras on buses years ago and for the average bus rider the installation of cameras has had little effect on their transit riding experience; I doubt that adding a few more cameras will make much of a difference.
Yet according to the politicians the installation of the cameras will incite the public to clamber onto the Transit buses, possibly exclaiming: "I'm on T.V.!"
Steve Ashton boasted this was part of "...the province’s vision for a clean and green economy by providing Manitobans with alternative transportation choices." Likewise Gord Steeves proclaimed: "With increased ridership, we must continue to improve our existing transit system to capture that increase and provide positive transportation alternatives to our citizens."
Wait a minute guys...I'm a little confused? How does placing cameras on the transit buses already in operation 'provide Manitobans with alternative transportation choices'? If our ridership is increasing, (or if you would like it to increase as part of the plan for a greener Manitoba), would it not be more logical to improve our transit system by running more buses, more frequently, rather than installing more cameras on the buses already in operation?
The key to getting more people to ride the bus is to provide good service at a fair cost. If the buses in Winnipeg had attractive fares and the bus came every five minutes, ridership rates would skyrocket. But all too often bus-riders are stuck waiting in the blistering cold 10-40 minutes for the next ride. I wonder how often Ashton, Steeves, or Toews have faced the daily challenge of waiting for their bus in the deep chill of Winnipeg winter?