The Amalgamated Transit Union is pushing for a greater presence of transit peace officers, after an Edmonton Transit bus driver was stabbed multiple times early Wednesday morning.

Police were called to the Mill Woods transit centre at about 3:40 a.m. for a report of an assault. When police arrived, they found an ETS bus driver who was suffering from multiple stab wounds.

Police say the attack started on the bus, then moved outside.

Mark Tetterington, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, told CTV News the 65-year-old bus driver was stabbed 13 times.

Tetterington said the teenager told the driver he was stranded at the Mill Woods Transit Centre, and asked the bus driver for a ride downtown then the teen reportedly pull out a knife and attacked the driver.

The driver followed protocol, according to the union, and called for a peace officer to pick up the 15-year-old boy

The injured driver managed to get away and made his way to a washroom, where he called police.

The driver was rushed to the University of Alberta Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. The union said the driver was released from hospital later Wednesday.

When officers arrived, police say the 15-year-old boy was in the driver’s seat of the bus, apparently trying to drive away, but he couldn't figure out how to release the brake. He was taken into custody.

Officers and ETS officials remained on scene into rush hour Wednesday morning, and part of the terminal was closed as a result of the incident and investigation. It reopened at about 9 a.m.

Union pushing for more peace officers

Tetterington said the operator had been with ETS since 2012 and is expected to be OK.

The union is now calling on the city to provide improved security for bus drivers.

Currently, Tetterington said there are 55 transit peace officers working in Edmonton. The union wants the city to fund officers 24-7, at every transit centre in the city.

“I don’t care what the cost is, public safety and operator safety is paramount,” Tetterington said.

“We’re asking for more security, not only for our operators but for public safety,” he said. “We want to increase ridership for the whole system…but the first step in doing so is making sure we have a safe system.”

Mayor Don Iveson said the city has worked with police on peace officers deployed for transit, but said the city was open to suggestions.

“I think we’ll be asking more questions about transit safety for operators and patrons after these incidents,” Iveson said.

One option being considered by administration is shields to protect bus drivers.

“We’re having that shield discussion as well, and the union has suggested that we pursue that, so I’m open to looking at that,” Iveson said. “Ultimately I want to see the type of transit system where people kind of feel safe and don’t need barriers. But we’ll look at all our options.”

Last year, the union said there were 70 assaults on bus drivers reported in Edmonton. As of the end of August 2018, 50 assaults had been reported and two of those were considered serious (including Wednesday’s stabbing).

The first serious assault took place in July, and Tetterington said the driver injured in that incident had not yet returned to work.

With files from Bill Fortier