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Proposed $100 fine for singing on Winnipeg city buses sparks outcry

Musical transit riders in Winnipeg, Canada may be singing the blues, but they better not do it on a city bus or they could be slapped with a $100 fine.

Winnipeg’s executive policy committee approved a new transit bylaw Wednesday that says if you sing on a city bus, you could get a $100 ticket, Canadian news site CBC reported.

The committee voted to pass several transit rules along with the tickets-for-tunes policy, including fines for not paying bus fare, carrying a firearm, urinating, and spraying graffiti on a city bus.

The rule isn’t limited to crooners. Transit riders cannot play an instrument or offer any live musical performance on a city bus without permission from Winnipeg Transit.

In a CBC poll Wednesday, more than 76 percent of 2,800 readers rejected the new rule. Most readers in the poll and on the news site’s Facebook page expressed anger and wondered why the city is addressing singing on the bus when it has more pressing problems.  

"I remember when I was working downtown… and the bus driver was either singing or whistling. The people on that bus really enjoyed it, and also listening to little kids singing just makes a person's day. I think this is ridiculous, " reader Linda Yager said on the CBC website.

Reader Mike Styczen met the news with a dose of sarcasm. "That's really the problem with Winnipeg buses. Too much joy," Styczen wrote.

There were some readers who agreed with the city committee’s decision, noting that some loud music and singing can disrupt others' rides, as well as the driver's concentration.

"A little intense, but I hate people who are loud and intrusive on buses. Library rules apply, in my opinion. I especially hate those jerks who play music too loudly,” Joshua W. Brown wrote.

The public outcry made an impression on city officials, who said Thursday they would consider adjusting the rule. “The intent of the proposed Transit by-Law is to provide improvements to Transit safety and security, and to provide a mechanism to manage disruptive behavior on the Transit system,” Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop stated in a news release Thursday.

“With some revised wording, we expect that the purpose of the proposed by-law will be clearer that the intent is not to limit freedom of expression,” the statement said.