ATU Seeks Federal Probe of Attacks on Transit Driver

WASHINGTON (PAI)—The Amalgamated Transit Union wants the federal government to probe passenger attacks on transit drivers after a spate of assaults – and one outrageous local transit agency response – highlighted the problem.

The most recent attack, on Feb. 10, saw a female passenger assault a D.C. Metrobus driver – a member of ATU Local 589 – with a can of Mace.  The outrageous response was in Wisconsin.  Kenosha Area Transit fired a driver for protecting himself and his passengers from a violent attack, ATU reported.  A Pittsburgh bus driver was attacked on Feb. 4.  Attacks against New York City transit drivers rose 30% in 2012.

The feds can investigate the issue because local bus and subway systems receive federal money.  “A bus driver now gets assaulted every three days in the United States.  Getting kicked, punched, stabbed and shot and the lower-profile offenses – spitting and verbal harassment – have almost become ‘routine,’” the union said.

“KAT’s senseless punishment of the victim sends an unwitting message to those who would commit such crimes that it’s ‘open season’ on transit operators,” ATU President Larry Hanley warned.  “ATU is calling for KAT to immediately reinstate the Kenosha driver and the Federal Transit Administration to investigate this attack.”

The union also proposes protecting drivers through enclosures, driver’s side escape doors and more transit police and patrols on buses and subways.