WASHINGTON, DC -- Thursday, the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689 called for more to be done to protect Metro Bus drivers after a string of recent attacks.
Just Wednesday, police arrested a man for throwing an empty sterno can at a bus driver along the X2 route.
Prior to that a woman was arrested for throwing a cup of urine on a driver and another woman was arrested for throwing a container of sunny delight on a driver.
“It has been open season on transit workers at Metro.”, said one union representative.
The ATU 689 is now calling for six immediate actions to be taken to deter such attacks including having a consistent police presence on “trouble lines”, moving the fare box to minimize interactions between drivers and the public, and to stop placing the blame on drivers.
“What we’ve done is come up with reasonable, responsible requests for WMATA to become proactive instead of reactive to the incidents that are out here.”, said International Representative, Anthony Garland.
In a statement, Metro said, while it is impractical to put police officers on every bus, it’s taken steps to keep colleagues safe and agrees with the union that when a bus operator is assaulted everyone is at risk.
Metro says laws need to be strengthened to enact tougher penalties for such assaults.
However, the union also alleges that when such attacks take place, more often than not, the bus operator is disciplined rather than taken up for.
Barry Wilson, whose been a Metro Bus operator for 18 years said, “I had a passenger, spat in my face. It was out of hand and you know, the way i was treated after that situation with WMATA wasn’t right.”
According to Metro, every bus is equipped with an alarm system, cameras, and a third are outfitted with protective shields, and police patrols have been increased along the X2 route.
Metro also said in its statement that neither incident of bus driver assault resulted in any injuries.