New Jersey Transit bus operators are calling for several protocols they say would improve their safety if a passenger gets physical.
A recently introduced federal law, the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act, would set aside $125 million for bus safety improvements and programs. Ray Greaves with the Amalgamated Transit Union says operators across the country have little protection from violent passengers.
“There is no excuse for any of these. Our operators are stabbed, shot at, strangled, punched, kicked, brutalized while doing their job getting our passengers to and from one place,” Greaves said. “Thousands of transit bus and rail workers are assaulted in the course of performing their duties. Many of these brutal attacks occur while massive busses are travelling down our roads presenting a danger to everyone in their way.”
Bus operator Ivy Boston was assaulted while on the job. She says bus manufacturers need to create a better shield between drivers and passengers.
“She reached over the barrier, the little thing that we have that’s supposed to protect us and hit me here while I still had my foot on the brake,” Boston said. “It was a shock to me. I need everyone to know that we need safety on the bus. We need protection on the bus. Please.”
The law has several other pieces regarding passenger safety. US Senator Bob Menendez is one of its co-sponsors.
“Strategies like driver assistance technology, new barriers to protect operators, de-escalation training and upgrades for busses to reduce risky blind spots. This is especially important for pedestrian safety,” he said.
The law would create a database, requiring transit agencies to report assaults on workers to the US Department of Transportation.